July Council Day

On Friday, July 24, the Coalfield Development crew gathered at West Edge for our Coalfield Council Day event, a once-monthly occurrence where the Coalfield Development team mingles and makes strides in personal and professional development.

Staff Accountant Yang Zhang kicked off the day’s events, leading with a talk about his experience immigrating from northeast China and how he’s found his home among the hills. Twelve years ago, Zhang moved to Huntington, and he’s been here ever since.

“When I first got here, I was surprised by the forest resources and the coal resources and the mountains and the rivers — they’re very pretty, and I really liked it,” Zhang said of Appalachia.

Prior to becoming a full-time staff member at Coalfield in 2019, Zhang collaborated with and worked in various capacities with Coalfield Development. As a contracted accountant, he said he was always impressed by the “healthy” finances, as well as the overall talent of the team. He recalls working for Coalfield when the organization had 10 employees — a fraction of the staff it has today.

“At that time and that moment, I wished that maybe I could work for Coalfield,” Zhang said. “My dream came true, and I’m a member of Coalfield now.”

Joining the Coalfield Development team, Zhang said, helped him redefine — and achieve — his American dream.

A word from our interns, Paige and Ralph

This summer, Marshall University business students Paige Leonard and Ralph May IV have worked closely with CEO Brandon Dennison to refine our existing personal development journal curriculum.

When we think of West Virginian leaders who embody the very resilience and ethic Appalachians take pride in, we often think of the same figures, both modern and historical. But beyond the list of celebrities and the folks often featured in the media, there are plenty of local leaders who fly under the radar — and these are the individuals we want to incorporate into our personal development materials.

On Friday, we collected responses from each crew member to highlight a living, everyday West Virginian leader who they feel best represents those qualities.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be assembling a list of these individuals who our crew can meet and interview in person. Once the interviews have ended, our crew will write profiles on these individuals to include in our new personal development curriculum.

“We’ve been working on ways for us to improve the personal development journals that the Coalfield employees do use here, so we’ve been using the design thinking process,” Leonard said. “We partnered with the Marshall University iCenter (Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation). We’ve gone around all summer to talk to people about what they like, dislike so that they have a solution they love.”

For this project, it’s critical that we show that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes and that becoming a leader is an attainable goal for all of us.

Protecting our environment

Jacob Hannah, Conservation Coordinator, spoke about the ways we can help protect our environment by recycling and composting discarded materials.

Growing up in Wayne County, Jacob said he and many others lacked access to recycling options — a reality most West Virginians can identify with, in both rural and urban settings. But thankfully, options and opportunities to recycle are growing, and it’s important to do our part by using the available recycling receptacles at West Edge Factory.

“Not only is recycling keeping ties and rubber out of rivers and water sources,” Jacob said. By taking the time to recycle used materials, he said, “you’re helping enhance the health of everyone in your region.”

Following his presentation, Jacob answered questions from the crew and addressed common misconceptions about recycling, acceptable materials, and ways we can reduce waste in our daily lives.

Cleaning and painting a nearby viaduct

After lunch, our team divided into groups to tackle multiple service projects at the 10th Street viaduct. Each crew split up to take turns painting the viaduct and collecting litter around the structure. 

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