For the next year, Jessica Linback will be serving with the Park Service at the New River Gorge National River to complete condition assessments and compile reporting on historic sites and structures within the Park. Originally from San Diego, CA, Jessica completed her MA in International Cultural Heritage Management at Durham University in the UK. While obtaining her Master’s degree, Jessica completed a work placement as an Assistant Heritage Consultant with the UK-based architecture firm Purcell, which works largely on projects involving the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic structures. At Purcell, Jessica completed an Historic Building Appraisal of the 17th century Bishop Cosin’s Almshouse which lies within the Durham Castle and Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also during her time at Durham, Jessica collaborated with several of her classmates to prepare a Conservation and Management Plan for the Galilee Chapel addition to the 11th century Durham Cathedral. This Plan was prepared as part of the Heritage Skills in Education competition, and was awarded Best Understanding of Significance and overall Best Conservation Management Plan in the University division.
Jessica spent the last twelve months as an AmeriCorps member with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) in Elkins, WV. While in Elkins, Jessica split her service hours between AFHA and the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission (EHLC). Jessica assisted in the graphic design of interpretive materials, including much of the material now on display at the AFHA Discovery Center, and developed a Thematic Tour Map, a tourism development tool which guides visitors through a selection of thematically-related sites within the AFHA region, and which will be uploaded to the AFHA website. At the EHLC, Jessica helped in the preparation of a new National Register nomination and executed a successful social media campaign to raise local awareness of the historic resources within the proposed district and the benefits of national recognition.
This year, Jessica will be serving with the Park Service as an AmeriCorps member through Preserve WV AmeriCorps. This opportunity will allow her to hone her skills in the methodologies of on-site assessment and historical research she practiced during her time in the UK. Jessica will be serving at the offices of the New River Gorge National River in Glen Jean, WV. Known primarily for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, the Park also contains a large, outstanding, and representative group of historic places that testify to the experiences of the diverse people who settled and developed this part of Appalachia from the late 18th through the mid-20th centuries. Of particular interest are historic homesteads such as the Trump-Lily farm and the old railroad town of Thurmond. Jessica’s service at the Park Service will culminate in a final report on the condition and significance of these and other properties throughout the Park, to be utilized by Park Management as an aid to determine maintenance and interpretation strategies.