KEYSER - Each summer, hundreds of volunteers provide life-changing experiences for West Virginia youths.

KEYSER - Each summer, hundreds of volunteers provide life-changing experiences for West Virginia youths.
Through the WVU Extension Service Energy Express summer reading program, AmeriCorps members, volunteers and others are helping to enhance reading and comprehension skills for students throughout the state.
Energy Express is an award-winning, a six-week reading and nutrition program offered in rural and low-income West Virginia communities. The program helps children entering first through sixth grade overcome the ‘summer slide’ that occurs when youths fall behind academically between school years, while also providing nutritious meals for the students.
Applicants interested in serving through AmeriCorps as mentors or community coordinators must be 18 years of age by June 11 to apply. Position descriptions and applications may be found on the Energy Express website. Applications must be received by March 1; the selection process begins March 1.
"Energy Express presents an incredible opportunity to serve kids in your community, and to grow yourself by showing compassion and selflessness to those who need it most,” said Craig Westfall, KMS teacher and 2019 site coordinator.
“Members will be surprised less by how much impact they make, and more by how much they are impacted personally."
In 2019, more than 3,000 children across 38 West Virginia counties participated in the program, with 68 percent of those children maintaining or increasing their reading achievement levels. In Mineral County 192 children participated and 27 college students served as AmeriCorps members. Aging and Family Services, a local collaborative partner, served 8,448 meals, and 960 take-home books related to weekly themes were given to these children.
 “Our volunteers are the very heart of our Energy Express program. Without them, we would not be able to reach these students,” said Andrea Price, WVU Extension Service 4-H Energy Express program director.
“Serving as an AmeriCorps* member is a solid summer experience in preparation for a professional job,” says Margaret Miltenberger, WVU Extension Service, 4-H Extension agent.
“It helps to prepare you for organization, planning, team work and professionalism whether you plan to work as a teacher or in another career field.”
In 2016, West Virginia’s Promise—The Alliance for Youth recognized Energy Express as the Red Wagon Award recipient for its commitment to helping West Virginia youths learn and grow through summer initiatives. Based on the success of Energy Express participants and the unique aspects of the program, the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University named the Energy Express program one of the nation’s best summer learning programs in 2009.  
For questions about submitting applications through the AmeriCorps system contact Beth Maszor, Mineral County Energy Express intern, at bethmaszor@gmail.com . Interviews will be coordinated by the Mineral County Family Resource Network (MCFRN) in March with interviews taking place the last week of March and the first week of April.
The WVU Extension Service Energy Express Office 304-293-3855 and the WVU Mineral County Extension Office at 304-788-3621 can also answer questions.
Energy Express is a program under the leadership of WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program. The AmeriCorps program is funded, in part, by grants from private foundations and corporations and Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s commission for national and community service. The Community Trust Foundation and United Way are important partners in supporting the Mineral County program.  CTF is committed to building stronger communities in Allegany, Garrett, and Mineral counties.