My name is Michael Burk and I am a native West Virginian who is very excited about being able to serve as a Preserve West Virginia AmeriCorps member. I am serving at the National Coal Heritage Area office in Oak Hill and am very excited to be here. After originally receiving a BS in Healthcare Administration from West Virginia University Institute of Technology, I decided to return to school and follow my true passion, history. I graduated with Honors from American Public University with an MA in American History. I currently live in Fayetteville, WV with my wife and 13 year old son.
I am really looking forward to serving with both PAWV and the National Coal Heritage Area. I think that preserving the coal heritage of West Virginia is long overdue and hope to do my part in making it happen. While here I will be working on multiple projects including interpretive signage, National Register nominations, as well as other projects aimed at promoting Heritage Tourism in the 13 southern West Virginia counties that make up the NCHA. One of the major tasks I will take part in is composing a complete inventory of all National Register places in the Coal Heritage Area that are related to the coal industry. This inventory will include current and past photographs as well as a brief history of each site.
I have been here for a short time, but I have developed a very deep passion for the preservation of the past here in the area. The sites that were so prominent during the coal boom era are slowly crumbling away. That is bad enough, but the fact that so much of the history is being forgotten is just as bad. If changes are not made, soon the sacrifices and hard work of the miners and their families will be forgotten. I hope to be able to change that as I serve the people of this area. My roots run deep in southern West Virginia, and I want to make sure that the true story, both good and bad, is told for generations to come.