A self-introduction by Cory Chase
Hello Highlands Voice readers! My name is Cory Chase and I was recently hired as the new Program Director for the WV Highlands Conservancy (WVHC). I’m very excited to join this group and its network of organizations that do the hard work to preserve and protect WV’s natural resources for generations to come.
A little about myself: I was born and raised in Canaan Valley, WV, and I currently live in Dryfork with my daughter and our pets. We have a good view of the north end of Dolly Sods from our house. We love to go camping, garden, swim in the river, hike, mushroom hunt and ski. Many of you probably know my parents Chip Chase and Laurie Little, who own and operate White Grass Touring Center in Canaan Valley.
I must attribute most of my concern for the environment and people to my parents. Growing up in an outdoor Mecca, I am reminded daily how special the highlands of WV really are. My upbringing at White Grass created an early and strong network of good people all over WV and beyond.
I attended massage therapy school after high school and worked in WV (and a couple other states) as a massage therapist for 17 years until the pandemic started. I graduated with honors from WVU in 2009 with a Liberal Arts & Sciences degree and a Philosophy minor. A broad knowledge base has served me well in a world of growing hyper-specialization.
For me, activism is my lens to view politics, and politics is important because the decisions that our representatives make can and often do literally affect all of us. I made two attempts to become a WV Delegate in 2018 and 2020. While it was an exhausting effort and I was unsuccessful, I gained valuable knowledge about organizing, networking, canvassing, events and small town and statewide issues. I am sure those skills will be used and honed even more with this work and I am grateful for that.
This job and environmental work as a whole also present challenges. Since WV has been an extraction state for decades and decades without investing much in its people, it’s hard to expect more people to have the time and resources to devote to this sort of work. Kudos to those who do, of course, but I sense that the critical mass that we really need is still not present in many of today’s movements.
Although WV is not a bastion of environmentally sound policies, I decided long ago that I could not choose to plug my ears and check out. Despite how bad things can get (and how awful they are in the WV Legislature), I have always felt that WV is worth defending and that I should work to make it better here. I honestly hope that I can fulfill that goal here with WVHC. I also know that many people doing this work share that conviction. And achieving that goal literally requires your help and support. Without critical mass, we will likely never slow or stop the threats to our state.
As much as I am excited to be joining WVHC, I also can’t escape the sense of urgency that we face as a species on this rapidly changing planet. Climate change is here–now–and again I feel that we have no choice but to knuckle down and do what we can to address the challenges it poses, regardless of the perceived or expected outcomes. I hope everyone that reads this knows that they have a say in our future, that they can take actions and support causes that stand for their principles, and that they can and should be part of the movements that we need to make systemic changes that benefit all of us, not just a select few.
If you can, please consider asking some family or friends who share your love for the WV Highlands to join WVHC as members and stay involved in the issues that we face. We have already seen some of our members take the lead on the new Dolly Sods Wilderness Stewards Program, which is being spearheaded by Dave Johnston and a host of other members. That is just one of many ways you can help WVHC! Civil Rights leader Bob Moses said it well: “Leadership is there in the people. You don’t have to worry about where your leaders are, how are we going to get some leaders…If you go out and work with your people, then the leadership will emerge.”