Comings and goings

A Dolly Sods vista with the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy logo overlayed

Goodbye from John

 As many of you already know, this will be my last issue as editor of The Highlands Voice.  This month our new editor, Olivia Miller, and I are doing it together.  Next month she will be ready to solo.

Solo, of course, only refers to the editing part.  The Voice has always been a collaborative effort between me and the members.   I appreciate all those who have submitted stories over the years, stories without which the Voice could never exist.  I trust you will continue to cooperate with Olivia as you have with me.

There was no particular reason I chose to leave.  I have been editor for twenty years, a good long run.   I wanted to go out like Sandy Koufax (one last obscure cultural reference for the road).  I didn’t want to wait until I was tired of editing, wait until the Voice started to feel like a burden.

It has been a privilege to edit the Voice.  I like to write; I like to encourage other people to write.  The Voice has given me an unparalleled opportunity to do both.  I appreciate that opportunity.

Although I did not plan it this way, my leaving has created an opportunity for the Conservancy.  For the first fifty years of our existence, the Voice was the only way we communicated with our members.  It was the primary way we communicated with the world at large; it was in every public library in the state and on the desk (or in the trash can) of our elected representatives.  

That’s not the world we live in today.  Even though many of us now, and always will, get their news from newspapers, much information is moving on line.  In the recent past the Conservancy has begun easing into that world.  Olivia has the skills to take us fully into that world.  Although there will always be a Voice, it will no longer be the only way we communicate with our members or the public.

Even though I will no longer be editor of the Voice, my involvement with the Conservancy will not end.  I remain Secretary.  Even though relief from the editing duties will give me more time to enjoy the psithurism, I also hope to contribute stories for Olivia to edit and include in future Voices.

As editor, however, this is it.  Writing and editing has been a joy and I am glad I did it but everything has to end sometime.  So long.

Hello from Olivia

Hello members and friends of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. I am Olivia Miller, the new communications director and editor of The Highlands Voice

My roots run deep in the Mountain State—ancestors from both sides of my family settled in what we now know as Tucker County, West Virginia, in the late 1700s. I was raised along the Cheat River in the small town of Hendricks, just minutes away from Otter Creek Wilderness Area. 

It is in the Monongahela National Forest that I developed a deep connection to and appreciation for nature. In many ways, my life so far in WV has given me everything I cherish most deeply: family, friends, community, kindness, tradition, resilience and abundant mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, and streams. I am whole-heartedly committed to protecting and preserving the bountiful natural beauty of the Mountain State for generations to come. 

I received my Bachelor of Science in journalism with a minor in women’s and gender studies from West Virginia University in 2018. Following graduation, I began working in higher education marketing and communications at WVU’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and later for the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, reporting on novel research spanning the Earth and life sciences. I continue to work as a freelance writer, independent social media and marketing consultant and yoga teacher. 

Early in my undergraduate career at WVU, I became involved in activism and spent endless hours phone banking and going door-to-door canvassing for local candidates and raising awareness on various political issues. I am a firm believer in the power of collective action and feel that we all have a critical role to play in the conservation of the environment and health of our communities. 

I am honored to be joining an organization with such a rich, long-standing history and notable reputation of environmental conservation work in WV. It is true, The Highlands Voice has been in circulation since before I was born, and I am mindful that I have very big shoes to fill in this role. With guidance from the board, the previous Voice editor, John McFerrin, staff of the Conservancy, and support from our members, I am confident that this new season of change will prove to be fruitful for the organization. 

In addition to serving as editor of the Voice, I will be elevating the mission of the Conservancy online. I invite you to join us in our mission on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

I am very excited about the future of the Conservancy. Please spread the word about the organization and our mission with your family and friends. We have work to do!