ELKINS, W.Va (WBOY) — The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area is set to receive over one million dollars as a continuation of Volunteer West Virginia.

Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area conserves, interprets, and promotes forest heritage to enhance landscapes and communities in sixteen counties of West Virginia and two within Maryland. AFNH hosts an AmeriCorps program that pairs individuals with different organizations throughout the region for particular service projects to better local communities and habitats.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito announced in a recent press release, that AFNHA was one of five organizations in total to receive over six million dollars total in funding, specifically for WV AmeriCorps programs.

12 News spoke with Ben Duvall-Irwin, Communications manager for Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area, on why this funding is so essential.

“The AmeriCorps program provides a huge benefit to members, organizations, and communities. Members get to learn all kinds of professional experience; they can earn money to go to school and pay off loans. It’s a great way to get their foot in the door for certain organizations. The impact on the community is huge, for example, in our last program year we had thirty-three AmeriCorps members. They supervised over four hundred volunteers in their organizations and those volunteers altogether served over seven thousand hours of volunteer time.”

AFNHA plans to utilize this funding by increasing the number of members within the program, the living stipend provided to members and by covering travel and training costs for members as well.

The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area is currently accepting applications for its AmeriCorps program in the 2023-2023 term, you can find information on that here. AFNHA has also initiated a shorter twelve-week term for the summer as well, you can find more information here.

AFNHA has also launched the Appalachian Forest Discovery Center, a museum with engaging exhibits that explore AFHA’s four focuses: Forestry, Nature, Culture, and History. The facility is located at 101 Railroad Avenue in Elkins or the Darden Mill as locals may remember it, with The West Virginia Railroad Museum occupying the second floor. The Appalachian Forest Discovery Center is open Thursday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.