Jen Osha Buysse
Jen-Osha is currently is the Director of the Mountain Stewardship and Outdoor Leadership School and remains on the Board of Directors of Aurora Lights, of which Mountain SOL is a major program. She was the President of Aurora Lights from 1998 to 2012 as well as a co-founder. Jen received her B.A. in English with Honors from the University of Virginia and her Masters in Forestry from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Jen worked as a volunteer English teacher for WorldTeach, and then as an environmental educator through Aurora Lights in Ecuador for two years.
Upon returning to the United States, Jen produced the benefit CD 'Moving Mountains: Voices of Appalachia Rise Up Against Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining' from 2000-2003. She taught at the university level at Salem International and West Virginia University and brought two groups of college students to the Ecuadorian highlands and amazon. She completed her PhD at the geography department at WVU where her research was focused on constructing a participatory map of Coal River Valley in Southern West Virginia, with an emphasis on visually demonstrating the social and environmental impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. Jen was the producer for the second MTR benefit CD, 'Still Moving Mountains: The Journey Home' which was released in June of 2009, and the project director for the multimedia website Journey Up Coal River, which won the E-Appalachia website of the year award. She also worked as the Project Coordinator at Coal River Mountain Watch, Education Coordinator at Friends of Deckers Creek, and continues to love working with children at the Morgantown Learning Academy.
Just last year, Jen joined with two other incredible WV women to finally make her dream of starting a school dedicated to social and environmental justice a reality. The Mountain Stewardship and Outdoor Leadership School opened for its first semester last fall, offering both in-school programs through the Morgantown Learning Academy as well as after-school programs for local students. As part of a commitment to social justice, families are offered sliding scale tuition as well as scholarships. Mountain SOL is about connection – connection to self, connection to friends, to community and to a greater circle of life. Mountain SOL classes are hands-on and allow for unstructured time in the woods as well as experiences in stewardship and self-led exploration. Jen lives happily in her mountain home with her husband Nick, boys Elijah and Rowan, and of course many four leggeds. Jen would love to talk with you about anything regarding children, the woods and mountains, connecting them, and the impacts of mountaintop removal and fracking in her home state of West Virginia.
Fellow at a Glance
Morgantown, West Virginia 26508