UK CERH Releases Video Highlights and Photo Gallery of Appalachian Research Day: Come Sit on the Porch

Appalachian Research Day, "Come Sit on the Porch," is an annual conference hosted by the University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (UK CERH) to share results of health research conducted with communities in Appalachia. Video highlights and a photo gallery of this year's event are now available  (see links at the end of this article). The event was held in person April 5, 2023, at the Ramada by Wyndham Hotel and Conference Center in Paintsville, Kentucky.

This year’s presentations included "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of COVID-19," a keynote address by Jamie Sturgill, Ph.D., a native of Appalachian Kentucky and faculty member of the UK College of Medicine. Her presentation highlighted some of the most recent findings from research being done at UK including clinical findings related to the acute phase of the virus and long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection and implications thereof on public health for the state of Kentucky.

Other conference sessions included:

  • "Building Recovery Ecosystems in Central Appalachia," by Michael Meit, co-directorEast Tennessee State University Center for Rural Health Research, and Andrew Howard, director of policy, Fletcher Group.
  • "Increasing Access to Healthcare Utilizing Drone Technology," presented by leaders of the USA Drone Port and community health workers at Kentucky Homeplace.

High school students from across the region presented numerous projects during a shared session. Healthy WAY (Wellness in All Youth) is a youth leadership and research development program created by the UK CERH for rural Kentucky high school students. Students selected for this competitive program shared results from their school-based projects, including:

  • "Decompression and Anxiety Reduction in Middle School Students Through Yoga and Art Therapy," Jackson Independent High School;
  • "Coping After COVID," Johnson Central High School;
  • "SMILE Club," Martin County High School; and
  • "Be Safe While You Surf," Pikeville High School.

Students from Buckhorn and Perry Central high schools presented "River Water Testing Utilizing Drone Technology," a citizen science project sponsored by the UK Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES).

Poster sessions were held during the networking breakfast and lunch. New at this year’s conference was a health and research fair and a dedicated time for community group discussions. Attendees had an opportunity to sign up for research projects currently recruiting in Appalachia, visit tables for a number of free health screenings, education and COVID-19 vaccines, and participate in conversations about what they believe is important for health research and well-being of local communities.  Undergraduate students from the UK College of Public Health, under the direction of Dr. Angela Carman, led the group conversations with community members.

An awards session in the afternoon recognized poster winners in both adult and student categories.  The first-place poster in the adult category was “Filling the Gaps: Understanding Post-Hospitalization Care and Acquired Disability in Appalachian Kentucky,” by Michelle K. Roberts, Erin Koch and Nancy Schoenberg.  The first-place poster in the student category was “Implementing Relaxation Techniques with Sixth and Seventh Graders,” by Jackson City School Healthy WAY team members Nikki Napier, McClellan Sizemore, Emily Patrick and Emily Pelfrey.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth was recognized as the winner of the 2022 UK-CARES/UK CERH Environmental Health Community Engagement Award for their work with communities and citizens concerned about environmental issues.  Other nominees that were recognized were the Kentucky River District Health Department’s Tobacco Program, the Lend-A-Hand Center, Stacie Noble at the Kentucky River Area Development District and Jeff Combs of Knott County.                    

“Appalachian Research Day, Come Sit on the Porch, is all about community and coming together to talk about how we work together to be healthier. We are so honored to bring this important event to our community. It was a wonderful day that was very well attended, and full of information and opportunities to learn, talk and be involved,” said Fran Feltner, DNP, director of the UK CERH.

Check out the photos here.

Check out the video highlights here.