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Inside a open floor dining room and kitchen, people sit and around a table and around the room, talking and making conversation. Some are Dartmouth students, some are community members from Montgomery, West Virginia

Last time on my Energy Immersion Trip Reflection…

In the prior post I outlined the structure of the 'Appalachia Energy Immersion Trip' I went on with the Dartmouth Sustainability Office over spring break. In this post, I'll cover my favorite days!

My Favorite Visits…

Fracking Site & Coal Mine

Two of the most impactful days of our trip were definitely those spent visiting the fracking site and the mountaintop removal coal mine. Seeing these places in real life and getting to ask questions of those who owned and operated on the site was a surreal experience. Seeing these worksites and watching these extraction processes play out in real time was an incredible opportunity to put visuals to concepts and really internalize the scope and impacts of these projects that we had read about.

Morris Creek Watershed

We spent a few days in Montgomery, WV with a fellow named Mike King. It was a super fun couple of days involving creek stomping & sampling macroinvertebrates from rivers with acid mine drainage, trying our hand at a lineman's school lesson, and attending a cookout and talking to people from the town about their lives and perspectives on the coal industry (which had left the town a few decades ago and taken most of the jobs with it) as well as what they believed the future will look like for West Virginia. 

Mine Wars Museum & Appalachian Citizens Law Center

My favorite day involved visiting the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum and learning about the early 20th century conflicts between laborers and the coal companies. The miners were fighting for better pay, safer working conditions, and the right to unionize – and every step of the way, the companies ignored their pleas and murdered their leaders. It was a harrowing history to learn, but an important one. 

That same day we also visited the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, which is a nonprofit law firm that represents coal miners, their families, and other individuals affected by extractive resource industries. They also work with grassroots organizations and help advocate for policies that will hold the coal industry accountable for its destruction of land and the impacts it has on both the environment and people in the region. Hearing about the work they were doing was a bright spot on our trip – a reminder that there are good people looking out for those who are affected by these industries' irresponsibility. At the same time, it was a reality check — a reminder that change is not happening as fast as it needs to, and it is often a thankless job for those who are pushing for it.


I am immensely thankful that I was able to go on this trip, and I want to conclude this post with why I applied and why I would apply again. 

I have always been deeply interested in environmental issues, and though it is not an interest I plan to major in or pursue academically, I was very excited to find this opportunity and take advantage of its immersive, practical approach to issues that have always fascinated me. By the end of the trip I had learned a lot, made eleven new friends, and had an overall fantastic time – I would sign up again in a heartbeat. And, I plan to sign up for the Gulf Coast Energy Immersion trip in a future term.

So: if this post interests you, stay tuned for a future installment about another learning opportunity I plan to take advantage of during my time at Dartmouth. Gulf Coast, here I come!

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