Wayne National Forest Supervisor Tony Scardina and AACA Board President Ed Pauley sign a partnership agreement between the two organizations (photo: Bryan Gibson/WOUB)

Local Group Partners With Wayne National Forest To Promote Arts

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Representatives of the Athens Area Citizens for the Arts (AACA) and the Wayne National Forest gathered earlier today at the Wayne National Forest Headquarters for a signing of a partnership agreement to contribute to a “culture of health.”

The purpose of the gathering was to “demonstrate the importance and value of the arts in rural economic diversification and cultural resource conservation in forest and/or natural resource-dependent areas,” according to a statement issued by the Wayne National Forest Public Affairs Office.

The partnership’s origins date back several months ago to conversations between AACA founder Bob Winters and Wayne National Forest staff. The agreement, originally to be signed on Aug. 12, was postponed due to the untimely passing of Winters that day.

Winters’ son, Daniel, was present for today’s signing and echoed his father’s enthusiasm for the new partnership.

“I know this was something that he was very, very excited about,” said Daniel. “It’s really wonderful to be here and see this moving forward.”

Through shared projects, the partnership will improve federal and state efforts to support sustainable, community-based activities.

“I think it’s an interesting concept, because it’s not one that, to be honest, I’ve explored: arts and national forest management,” said Wayne National Forest Supervisor Tony Scardina, who added that he comes from a musical family and has a great interest in the arts.

The agreement will provide educational opportunities at the Wayne National Forest Headquarters, such as artist workshops, and support other programs designed to improve the health and wellness of the community, said AACA Interim Director Stacia Davis Moore. A display of works by the Athens Photographic Project was featured in the lobby, with future exhibits being planned.

“This space is just spectacular,” remarked Moore. “What a welcome to our [arts] community and all its rich assets. It’s really about connecting, and this seems like a great spot for that to happen.”

Bridging the gap between groups focused on either nature or the arts was part of what Bob Winters saw in forging the relationship between AACA and the Wayne National Forest, according to Wayne National Forest Public Affairs Staff Officer Gary Chancey. To Winters, the partnership was part of a broader focus on holistic health and community well-being, aimed at improving the quality of life for all citizens: a “culture of health.”

“This is a great day,” said Chancey. “All of us here today have a common thread: Bob Winters. His work is finished, and now it’s up to us to carry it on.”

For more information about the Athens Area Citizens for the Arts, visit To learn more about the Wayne National Forest, visit