Andrea Miller, Rural Action’s new Sustainable Forestry Manager, was at a thrift store in Logan recently when something caught her eye. It was a piece of pottery that looked familiar.
Then it dawned on her. The design was painted by her great-grandmother, Ellen Milner, who lived on a farm in Perry County where Andrea spent countless hours as a child. Ellen passed away in 2013 at 93, but the influence she had on Andrea lives on.
“Both of my grandparents worked for pottery companies in Roseville for years,” Andrea says. “They also had the farm. And they took apart computers to recover and sell the copper in them. They did what any Appalachian does to get by. They diversified.”
Ellen also was a ginseng steward and had a “massive” garden, interests that clearly transferred to Andrea as she went on to earn a conservation biology degree with a botany minor at Bowling Green State University and then a master’s in herbalism at Maryland University of Integrative Health.
After college, Andrea worked in Maryland for a while, managing the university’s herb garden and working at the Green Farmacy Garden. But she knew she wanted to return home to Appalachian Ohio, which brought her to Athens, where she worked for Companion Plants for three years before joining Rural Action on Feb. 1 of this year.
“Everything Rural Action does is in alignment with my fundamental belief of sustainability,” she says. “We talked about ‘do no harm’ in herbalism. We can say the same thing about the forest. Sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do. Once that’s your core value, you see it in everything you do. It becomes a lifestyle.”
For more information on Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry program or to welcome Andrea to Rural Action, send her an email.