Rural Action’s Leadership Development and Service programs are about mobilizing energetic and passionate people to make a difference in our communities while empowering local people to grow as community leaders, building the foundation for a lifetime of service and collective impact. In Appalachian Ohio, being a leader means knowing our communities, respecting our resources, celebrating our history, restoring, conserving, and leveraging our assets, all while nurturing the skills needed to be innovators and change makers.

Our greatest asset is the people who live and work in our region. Whether it’s working in schools, with kids outside of the class, with adults, with senior members of the community, or for the planet that sustains us, we believe investing in members of our community is the greatest hope we have for building thriving communities and healthy environments in rural Appalachian Ohio. For nearly 30 years, Rural Action has provided a pipeline for people who were interested in making a difference in their community through engagement, training, and leadership development. Learn more about how we are growing local leaders through our national service programs — Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps, the Youth Climate Action Teams, internships, volunteer engagement in local communities, and more.

Our leadership programs provide hands-on experiential learning to future leaders in partnership with local officials, businesses, academia, and other nonprofits. Opportunities provided through Rural Action are linked to career pathways into promising sectors in our region such as watershed restoration and protection, sustainable agriculture and forestry, community organizing and development, zero waste, and environmental education.

Rural Action has been cultivating the next generation of leaders for more than 25 years. Learn more about our history with national service programs below.

Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps

Engaging in AmeriCorps National Service with Rural Action is a chance to Get Things Done for your community, your world, and yourself. Whether you serve as an AmeriCorps State/National member and “get your hands dirty”, or as an AmeriCorps VISTA who builds capacity behind the scenes, you service will support Appalachian Ohio people and communities; protect, conserve, and steward our natural resources; help to rebuild sustainable wealth, livelihoods, and prosperity; and provide you with the opportunities to find your place and purpose here on Earth.

Boots on the ground with AmeriCorps State/National

AmeriCorps State/National members perform direct service in communities of need. During a term of service, members gain training and experience on many types of exciting community and economic development projects, environmental restoration efforts, and education initiatives. Projects include watershed restoration, zero waste, environmental education, local tourism, public lands access, sustainable forestry, sustainable agriculture, support of local entrepreneurs, asset and gap mapping, workforce development, and sustainable solutions.

*Both year-long and seasonal opportunities available

Read about State/National

Behind the scenes with AmeriCorps VISTA

Capacity to leverage our assets to solve our own issues is a challenge for small rural organizations, and finding your place in the world can also be a challenge. National Service is an incredible resource that puts heart and soul into our work and that of many partners. AmeriCorps VISTA members help Rural Action and partner organizations to build needed capacity to reach more people and get more done in the communities we work in. Our AmeriCorps VISTA program places 10 members in year-long terms working on projects such as spanned healthcare, arts and heritage, low-income housing repair, community revitalization, and other community organizing and development activities.

Read about VISTA

Meet our Past Members

Are you curious about our current National Service members and what’s it’s like to serve as Direct Service or Capacity Service members? Learn from Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps members who have served with Rural Action.

Volunteer and Internship Opportunities

Rural Action offers many ways to volunteer and takes an active role in creating thriving communities and healthy environments in Appalachian Ohio.

Whether you want to work on restoration projects in the field, work with our youth, help out around the office, or offer your knowledge and expertise, Rural Action has a place for you to help. Ongoing, short-term, or special event opportunities are generally available. Rural Action also provides internship opportunities for high school and college students. Fill out our volunteer form with your interest to receive more information on ways you can get involved.


Meredith Hamsher

Meredith Hamsher

AmeriCorps Member Development Manager

Johna Metcalf

Johna Metcalf


AmeriCorps Program Manager

Check out all of our current AmeriCorps members.

Our Partners

Edge of Appalachia
Licking County Soil & Water
Crane Hollow Preserve
Buckeye Trail
Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council
Raccoon Creek Partnership
Ohio’s Hill Country
Muskingum Valley Park District
UpCycle Ohio
Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers
Camp Oty’Okwa
Hocking Soil & Water Conservation District
The Dawes Arboretum
Wayne National Forest
United Plant Savers

Our Story

Rural Action’s journey with National Service began with a 25-year AmeriCorps VISTA program launched in 1994 through the Corporation for National and Community Service. In 2009, Rural Action transitioned to an AmeriCorps State/National program focusing on direct service in watershed restoration in Appalachian Ohio. Since then, the program, now the Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps (AORC) has grown from 8 to 70 AmeriCorps members in more than 20 Appalachian Ohio counties. We also offer an AmeriCorps VISTA program where members serve behind the scenes to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty.

The interventions AORC employs to work toward regional community development have also grown to include watershed restoration and conservation, environmental education, waste reduction, and recycling, sustainable forestry and agriculture, access to public lands and recreation opportunities, and economic development through small business support and local heritage and resource-based tourism.

AORC members sample and monitor streams impacted by acid mine drainage, pollution, and nutrient loading. They lead lessons in schools, host summer camps, and organize community events to share environmental knowledge and eco-stories. Members provide education to property owners and the public about sustainable and profitable land use and improve public lands so more people can access and appreciate their local natural resources. Members also identify local assets and implement plans for community growth based on those assets, as exemplified through heritage tourism efforts in communities like Shawnee, McConnelsville, and Somerset. Rural Action’s AmeriCorps VISTA positions build the foundations that mean area nonprofits and agencies can do more for the communities they serve.