Dr. Jessica Martell's first-year Watauga Residential College students successfully participated in this year's Appalachian Teaching Project, a student research training grant funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
In fall 2021, Dr. Martell's class partnered with a local nonprofit, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA), to help develop a new market channel for the High Country Food Hub called the LocalFAM Food Box program. (FAM stands for "Food As Medicine.") LocalFAM is a weekly subscription to a box of fresh, healthy produce provided free of charge to food insecure households. Since August, students helped BRWIA pack 600 boxes, which served 50 families a week. Local farmers were paid over $17,000 to participate.
Next, the class designed a research presentation that they delivered at the Appalachian Teaching Project national conference. Students from fifteen universities around the Appalachian region presented their research at the virtual conference from November 30 to December 3, 2021. Dr. Martell's students also delivered their research presentation to Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture's board and staff and LocalFAM farmers.
Mr. Tom Hansell and Dr. Julie Shepherd-Powell--professors in the Appalachian studies program in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, which also houses Watauga Residential College--supported Dr. Martell and her students, having taught Appalachian Teaching Project-linked classes in the past. Owen Smith, a graduate assistant and MA student in the Appalachian studies program, also supported Dr. Martell and her students. Classes in the Appalachian studies program have participated in the Appalachian Teaching Project for almost two decades, 2021 being the first year in which Watauga Residential College students represented Appalachian State University.
Dr. Martell notes, "It's been gratifying to foster this interdepartmental collaboration with Appalachian studies, immerse more undergraduates in the study of the Appalachian region, and increase access to high quality local food in our mountain community."