[caption id="attachment_66854" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2020\/04\/Rachel-Geiger.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="400" class="size-full wp-image-66854" \/> Rachel Geiger is serving as the Watershed and Fisheries AmeriCorps for the U.S. Forest Service Bartow Ranger District. For her year in Pocahontas County, Geiger said she hopes to develop educational materials concerning the waterways in the county and the ecosystems that thrive there. Photo courtesy of Rachel Geiger[\/caption]\r\n\r\nSuzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nWater connects us all. Whether in waterways leading us to other states or countries or providing hydration, water is one thing every living organism needs to live.\r\n\r\nWater is also what led Portland, Oregon, native Rachel Geiger to study environmental science and to later become the Watershed and Fisheries AmeriCorps at the Bartow Ranger District of the U. S. Forest Service.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s been kind of funny,\u201d she said. \u201cWater is something that\u2019s always flowed through my life in different aspects. To study environmental science, often it\u2019s super broad; all over the place. You\u2019re learning about marine science, soils, forestry, biology, chemistry and with the experiences I got, one thing that tied it together \u2013 it was always around water. It was always around streams or lakes or the ocean.\u201d\r\n\r\nAs the watershed and fisheries AmeriCorps, Geiger works to help connect the communities with the water sources of Pocahontas County, and help them see all the wonderful creatures and ecosystems that are thriving there.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s been really fun and interesting, to bring people together and\u00a0to connect over water sources and to be able to explain why this resource is important; why the creatures in here are different and have different adaptations than ones on land. You can relate to a lot of people when you talk about water and things that are in the water.\u201d\r\n\r\nGeiger\u2019s primary focus is to provide outreach and education to the community through the Forest Service, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of her projects are on hold.\r\n\r\n\u201cMy position is centered around the freshwater snorkeling program that my district does,\u201d she said. \u201cDue to the virus and complications of social distancing, it is super hard to do any sort of in-person outreach interactions. So my job has shifted to reaching out to the public in ways that do not involve personal interaction, such as sign creation for interpretive signs for the forest.\u201d\r\n\r\nGeiger is also creating lesson plans for the snorkeling program, in hopes that she will be able to return to the outdoor classroom this summer or fall.\r\n\r\n\u201cAs well as creating lessons plans for future snorkeling programs, I\u2019m creating outreach to kids using interactive Junior Ranger activity books that teach kids about our endangered candy darter species \u2013\u00a0its role on the forest and candy darter outreach in general. As an endangered fish on our forest, it\u2019s been one of our goals in outreach to spread awareness about this cool species and help people understand why it\u2019s important and how we are managing its regulation.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile a lot of Geiger\u2019s programs seem to be more kid-centric, she said she enjoys interacting with interested parties of all ages.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019m reaching a wide variety of audiences \u2013\u00a0from kids to anglers to hikers to other residents of this community \u2013 so it\u2019s very exciting,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nAmeriCorps positions are usually a year long and, by November, Geiger will complete her service time in Pocahontas County \u2013\u00a0a place that has made a lasting impression on her.\r\n\r\n\u201cI heard wonderful stories about how beautiful [West Virginia] was, and I\u2019m a little bit of an adventurer and like to get out and experience new things and new places,\u201d she said. \u201cFor me, it was super important to go out there to be a part of it, to participate, to get to know people, because I had never been here before, never lived in a rural community before. That\u2019s been wonderful.\u201d\r\n\r\nAfter her time as an AmeriCorps, Geiger hopes to go to graduate school and study aquatic ecology working toward a career as a scientist and researcher.