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Youth Cycling Coalition chooses Morgantown for pilot, OEDC partners for success

Youth Cycling Coalition

Morgantown has been chosen as the location for a groundbreaking pilot program Youth Cycling Coalition composed of 10 national, youth-focused bicycling organizations who have partnered to integrate programs that provide positive cycling experiences to youth across the nation. 

The pilot draws on each organization’s expertise, which includes road cycling, BMX, mountain biking, infrastructure, advocacy, education and positive youth development, to implement a range of programming for kids ages six through 18. Together, the coalition works to get more children on bikes and can provide a complete pathway with intersections and alternatives to keep them engaged and to foster a passion for biking as they grow into young adults.

Why Morgantown?

An already vibrant cycling community coupled with an abundance of established outdoor recreation assets, Morgantown is a growing destination to live, work and play. Recent accolades include the popular Mon River Rail-Trail System, now nationally recognized since its recent induction into the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's “Rail-Trail Hall of Fame,” and the Trail Accelerator Grant awarded to the University from the International Mountain Bike Association.

Kat Andrus, manager at the Youth Cycling Coalition, had the opportunity to visit Morgantown while conducting the pilot location selection process for the YCC.

“It became obvious that for the YCC pilot, this had to be the place,” she remembers. “Everybody I spoke with not only really wanted this, but also had a deep connection in understanding the work and how it fit into a larger desire to improve their home city and their home state.”

Andrus recognized that the combination of community support, the connection to West Virginia University, and the alignment of Science Behind the Sport would allow the YCC to take advantage of the intellectual and social capital that a university town can provide.

The OEDC and YCC connection

When the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative heard that the YCC was searching for a home, Andrew Hoover, director of OEDC’s Science Behind the Sport, took the lead in introducing YCC leaders to the potential in Morgantown.

It started with a connection that was made by Shelley Birdsong-Maddox, Senior director of Corporate & Foundation Relations, between Andrew and Mike DuVarney, executive director USA BMX Foundation. Between the Foundation’s elementary school-level STEM education programming and the Science Behind Cycling program, which serves middle and high school students, Birdsong-Maddox had identified a natural opportunity for partnership that would allow both programs to expand and enhance their offerings.

“What began as a conversation around developing hands-on STEM curriculum quickly transformed into a broader discussion when Mike began to tell us about the YCC,” Hoover said. In next meeting, the OEDC team explained how the University could support the coalition and painted a picture of the future of the outdoor economy in West Virginia. That gave the YCC a reason to seriously consider Morgantown as a potential applicant. “It was the pitch of a lifetime,” Hoover smiled. “Three weeks later Kat was in Morgantown for a site visit.”

Choosing a pilot location was a collaborative effort of several people within the YCC. After the site visit, Morgantown had to go through a rigorous application process against 33 other cities where a selection committee decided the finalists together. Final approval was decided by coalition members.

In addition to the integration with Science Behind Cycling, another reason why partnering with WVU became so desirable is the extensive and unique qualifications OEDC leadership has in creating and executing large-scale programs. Greg Corio, vice president of the OEDC, founded Adventure WV, which is now the largest outdoor orientation program for incoming freshman in the country; Assistant Dean Danny Twilley was one of the leaders in the development of the Bailey Trail System in Ohio, which won the U.S. Forest Chief’s Award in 2020, prior to joining WVU; and Ali Jeney, director of the Science Adventure School, has developed a one-of-a-kind orientation program for 6th grade youth that has grown exponentially each school year. The team’s collective programmatic background combined with access to research in STEM education and youth development led by Alice Morgan, OEDC Program Coordinator and Research Specialist, allows the YCC to harness that knowledge in support of  building a successful program.

The purpose of the OEDC and YCC partnership is to establish streamlined programming for all 10 cycling organizations in Morgantown, and then take the YCC initiative to other cities throughout the US. The OEDC will support the pilot program through logistics, operations, and research to evaluate success and guide growth to expand the program. 

Volunteer opportunities

The YCC is looking for volunteers in the Morgantown area for all 10 partner organizations, which include the USA BMX Foundation, USA Cycling, Free Bikes 4 Kidz, the League of American Bicyclists, Little Bellas, National Interscholastic Cycling Association, PeopleForBikes, Project Bike Tech, Safe Routes Partnership, and Trips for Kids. All volunteers are connected to a national support system as each organization is established in several other states.

Two of those organizations need lead volunteers to get their programs running: Trips for Kids introduces children of all ages to biking and has multiple entry-level programs, and Free Bikes 4 Kidz is looking for three to four people to take on collecting, housing, refurbishing, and distributing bikes. Those interested do not need to be an athlete but do need to have a passion for engaging kids in cycling.

Interested volunteers can contact Kat Andrus at and visit for more information.