When asked what Olivia “Blue” Stegall thought of mountaintop removal coal mining she described it as “eeewy.” This was the word that Appalachian Voices’ youngest and highly dedicated volunteer had to say about people blowing up the mountains. Blue, a Johnson County, TN native, attests that it makes her sad when she sees destruction of the land she calls home. Instead of just complaining, she and her mother, Mar decided to do something about it.
For two months, Blue and Mar have volunteered at Appalachian Voices as part of a weekly service-learning class. Mar describes service-learning as an educational method which empowers students to become pro-active in the community and work towards change. In this case, Blue is committed to environmental protection for the southern mountains and her homeland. Volunteering engages Blue to sustain interest in community affairs and alternatively enables her to have a voice. Even at age four, Blue is an awe-inspiring and productive member of the Appalachian Voices family. If she is not teaching the staff some of her Spanish vocabulary then she is working hard to spread laughter and happiness throughout the office.
Blue is especially passionate about animals with her 2 rabbits, 3 dogs, 2 cats and multiple fish and yet manages to have time to spread the love to unwanted and abandoned animals. She is an active citizen not only with Appalachian Voices but also with The Humane Society and The Watauga County Library. One day Blue hopes to be the president of The Humane Society where she will help other volunteers clean cages and have fun with the cats and dogs. This ambitious career for a four-year old could only come from someone who is dazzling the community with her selfless efforts.
In her free time Blue likes playing in the mountains and building fairy houses made out of sticks and other items she sustainably gathers in the woods. Her favorite part about working at Appalachian Voices is the people she has met, in which we second that emotion. Blue hopes that through her efforts she will encourage more children to help in saving the mountains and the earth we all call home. She has learned that it doesn’t matter how little you are, you can still make a difference. We feel pretty strongly that one of these days this inspiring activist will be saving the world, and we will be right there with her, each step of the way.