Four graduate students in the School of Visual Communication's photojournalism program are documenting stories of rural America this summer to help inspire support for conservation and sustainable forestry activities.
The Athens-based National Network of Forest Practitioners and the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Ky., awarded the fellowships to Jim Korpi, Peter Hoffman, Michael DiBari and Sherry DiBari.
Korpi and Hoffman are spending 10 weeks in New England and the Midwest to create photo essays focusing on how rural people and communities are connecting with the land in a positive way. Korpi, originally from New Hampshire, will cover New England, while Hoffman, who is from the Chicago area, will photograph stories in Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.
Michael DiBari will photograph stories in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. Sherry DiBari will manage field aspects of the project and organize and archive photographs. The DiBaris live in Athens.
Among local stories the grad students are exploring are the forestry activities of the Ohio Premium Pine Cooperative, the Chesterhill Produce Auction, the Rural Action Summer Watershed Day Camp for 10- to 13-year-olds and the Organic Sister's Garden Project. These stories will be complemented by several from other regions, including the innovative practices of the Living Forest Cooperative in Wisconsin's Northwoods and a New Hampshire enterprise that takes wood products from the "forest to the front door."
School of Visual Communication Director Terry Eiler said the fellowships offer a quality documentary experience for the grad students, all of whom have completed their graduate coursework, and the school.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for VisCom to partner with a local group that has national impact," he said. "This also allows some of our best visual journalists to expand their reportage into new areas of community impact."
NNFP has set up a "People and Land" blog that tracks the students' work throughout the summer.
-- From staff and provided reports