DOI / VISTA Team Projects

New River Gorge National River

DOI / VISTA: Rachel McDowell
Supervisor: Adrienne Jenkins
Address: P.O. Box 246, Glen Jean, West Virginia 25846-0246
County: Summers, Nicholas, Raleigh and Fayette Counties
Voice Telephone: 304-465-2634
Email: adrienne)
Web site:
Congressional District: 3
Bureau: National Park Service (NPS)


The National Park Service was established to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.  New River Gorge National River was established as unit of the National Park Service in 1978 with the purposes of preserving an important free-flowing segment of the New River; preserving, protecting, and conserving outstanding resources in and around the New River Gorge; and providing opportunities for public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the park’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources.  This rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons is among the oldest rivers on the continent.  The park encompasses more than 70,000 acres of land along the New River that is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.  

About the Surrounding Community

The 53 miles of the New River Gorge National River flows across three counties in West Virginia including Fayette, Raleigh, and Summers.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service report, the percent of total population in poverty in these counties in 2012 was 21.4% in Fayette, 18.5% in Raleigh, and 26.5% in Summers County.  The VISTA program benefits the park in helping to build capacity in these areas with local partners and volunteers to expand program offerings and increase economic benefits.  In 2013, a National Park Service report illustrated that 1.2 million visitors to New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area spent more than $51 million in communities near the park that supported 673 jobs in the local area.  An AmeriCorps VISTA can focus on specific capacity-building projects to provide an even greater benefit to surrounding communities.        

Project Overview

The DOI/VISTA serves at New River Gorge National River to develop programs that significantly address the underserved community surrounding the New River Gorge National River. The DOI/VISTA's project is to develop programming and secure funding for Camp Brookside.  The DOI/VISTA interviews local partners, community members, and stakeholders to get their input on what type of programming will be available at Camp Brookside.  Two current ideas the project is exploring is to establish a residential youth camp that will provide paid work experience for diverse 15-25 year olds from across the nation; and to establish an environmental education center to host high school and college students engaging in outdoor field research. The DOI/VISTA’s work to develop programing and seek funding is critical to build the capacity of New River Gorge National River to ensure long term stability and success of education and recreation programs for impoverished youth throughout the community. 

Sponsors and Partners

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