Allegheny Mountain Institute Fellows to Present 2017 Capstone Projects


Before the eight Fellows at Allegheny Mountain Institute, or AMI, complete Phase I of their program at the end of October, they will present information about community and farm projects they’ve been working on for months.  Jessa Fowler, AMI’s Education Director, has more details on these upcoming capstone projects.

Ms. Fowler says, “The Fellows have spent a lot of time this season on our farm, growing food and preserving it.  They’ve also spent some time here in the community at the farmers’ market, working at the school garden, but one of the other things that they’ve been working on while they’ve been in Highland is a capstone project.  In the past, the capstones have just been a project that has been interesting to the Fellows or a reflection of their experience on the mountain.  This year’s a little different, because we’re asking the Fellows to still think about what’s interesting to them and create a project based on an interest of theirs, but we’re also challenging them to apply that to a need they see in the community to show opportunity, either in Highland or on the farm at AMI.

“The capstone projects have quite a bit of variety, so a couple Fellows worked on a project looking at community interests in a community garden here in Monterey and a garden mentorship program.  Other Fellows have looked at the trails around AMI, about the idea of having a dairy, and another Fellow is working on a business plan for a farm-to-food truck venture that would help connect folks to fresh local food.”

The capstone projects will be presented at The Highland Center in Monterey on Wednesday, October 11th.  There will be a community potluck at 6:00 p.m., and the presentations are expected to start no later than 7:00 p.m.  No R.S.V.P. is needed, and folks are encouraged to bring a dish.

Ms. Fowler continues, “This is the culminating event before the Fellows begin their Phase II positions in Highland and Augusta Counties, and so, this is really a time to celebrate the work that the Fellows have done in this community, and the ways they’ve given back, and I know they’d appreciate the support of the folks that they’ve met here in the county, especially for those, for instance, who filled out one of the surveys for the community garden, community park.  It would be great for you to come and see what results the Fellows collected.”

Though Phase I of this year’s AMI program is coming to a close, there are new experiences and opportunities ahead.

In conclusion, Ms. Fowler says, “The Fell zows will leave Highland County on October 31st, and then several will be coming back January 1st to start their Phase II positions, where they’ll be working with non-profits in our region.  We are also in the process of getting ready to open applications for our 2018-2019 cohort.  Our applications for next year’s Fellowship will open on November 1st, and those folks will be arriving in late April.”

For more information on the capstone projects or Allegheny Mountain Institute in general, folks can call 540-468-2300 or visit .


Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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