Skip to main content

Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative

With generous support from Brad and Alys Smith, we’re using West Virginia’s outdoor assets to ignite the economy, develop world-class recreational infrastructure and expand outdoor educational opportunities.

Our newest initiative — a remote worker program — will fuel entrepreneurial and innovative thinking by bringing new talent to the Mountain State.

Ascend WV Remote Worker Program

SMITH OEDC at a glance:

The Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (Smith OEDC) was created to leverage West Virginia’s outdoor recreation assets to stimulate and improve economic opportunities throughout the state. The Smith OEDC engages youth in the state through programs linking outdoor education, recreation, positive youth development, and science. By building alliances between West Virginia University, educators, state and local governments, the outdoor industry, and outdoor enthusiasts, we will redefine our state and enhance the quality of life for the citizens of West Virginia.

Connect With Us:

Photo Caption: Brad and Alys Smith at the summit of Seneca Rocks.

Ascend WV

Emphasizing community, purpose and the outdoors, the program is designed to support remote workers and their families as they relocate to West Virginia in pursuit of high quality of life and an outdoor-driven lifestyle.

Asset mapping has shown West Virginia’s outdoor recreation assets provide a significant competitive advantage as they are valuable, rare and cannot be imitated.

  • West Virginia is home to 2,032 miles of whitewater, the greatest density of whitewater in the country.
  • The state also has some of the best climbing in the Eastern United States with more than 3,500 roped climbs and 500 bouldering routes in the New River Gorge area alone.
  • West Virginia is blessed with thousands of miles of trails for all different types of activities, in which the Smith OEDC is working to enhance its outdoor recreation infrastructure for enthusiasts of all levels to get outside in the Mountain State.

With the outdoors in mind, Ascend WV communities includes numerous benefits:

  • Two-years of financial incentives
  • Free co-working space and community hub
  • Free Outdoor Recreation Package and Gear Library rentals
  • Curated outdoor trips and activities
  • Professional development and networking events
  • And more ...

Learn more about the program, its benefits and the communities chosen at

*For media inquiries, please contact Christina Petrilli at

Programs & Initiatives

Through education, research, community engagement, and asset development, the Smith OEDC is creating initiatives that improve the economy, health, and future of West Virginians.

Science Adventure School

Science Adventure School (SAS) is an adventure-based, outdoor science program dedicated to empowering and educating WV youth. We integrate adventure sports-driven STEM activities with engaging environmental curriculum. With a distinct focus on student development through experiential education, SAS offers meaningful experiences to inspire inquiry, instill confidence, and help develop the leaders of tomorrow.

Science Adventure School

Science Behind the Sport

The WVU Science Behind the Sport (SBS) makes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) real for K-12 youth. We’ve developed a series of educational programs that demonstrate fundamental principles in the context of adventure sports. Using an outdoor classroom and focusing on hands-and-feet-on learning to actively engage participants creates a unique opportunity to get youth excited about science!

Science Behind the Sport
Map Screenshot with outdoor assets around Morgantown, WV.

Asset Mapping

Mapping outdoor recreation assets in WV shows the wealth of our natural outdoor resources. Our whitewater, fly-fishing, trails, and rock climbing set us apart from other destinations.

Danny Twilley presents on the outdoor recreation economy for TEDx.

Workshops and Presentations

We partner with communities throughout the state to host workshops and presentations on outdoor recreation opportunities that will stimulate economic development.

Professor Vaike Haas with her class doing trail work.

Outdoor Asset Development

Through research and asset mapping we are working with communities to identify and develop outdoor recreation resources that enhance the quality of life for citizens of West Virginia.


Ali Profile

Ali Jeney

Director of Science Adventure School (SAS)
Alice Profile

Alice Morgan

SAS Program Coordinator & Research Specialist

Alison Profile

Alison Conroy

Program Coordinator

Andrew Profile

Andrew Hoover

Director of Science Behind the Sport (SBS)
Christina profile

Christina Petrilli

Outdoor Marketing & Communications Manager

Danny Profile

Danny Twilley

Assistant Dean of the Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative

Forrest profile

Forrest Schwartz

Director of the Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, Ascend WV

Greg Profile

Greg Corio

Assistant Vice President of the Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative

Olivia's Profile

Olivia Sauvageot

Marketing Graduate Assistant

Paris profile

Paris Winfrey

Morgantown Program Coordinator, Ascend WV

Rich's profile

Rich Edwards

Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Coordinator

Mission and Vision

The mission of the Smith OEDC is to enhance the quality of life for WV citizens by connecting people to outdoor recreation in our state and by growing the state’s outdoor recreation economy.

We are evaluating the strategies that other outdoor-oriented states have used to explode their outdoor recreation revenue, grow their population and improve the health of their citizens, and we are working towards creating those same results here in WV. This includes creating awareness of the unique wealth of beautiful spaces where our citizens and visitors can recreate in; acquiring grants to build beginner mountain biking trails and other outdoor recreation projects; developing incentives for businesses and entrepreneurs to move to and remain in WV; and developing a marketing campaign to rewrite the narrative for West Virginia.

Building a vibrant community of citizens who love to play outdoors and have the job opportunities to stay and thrive in WV cannot be done without engaging our most valuable asset, our youth. The Smith OEDC offers invaluable learning experiences to youth through the Science Adventure School and Science Behind the Sport. These programs are dedicated to empowering and educating West Virginia’s youth through linking outdoor education, recreation, and science. Sparking both their love of learning and being outside, we are building steppingstones to the next generation of innovators, educators and outdoor enthusiasts.

Reshaping the state is an undertaking only achievable by bringing together as many community partners as possible, if you are invested in seeing WV reach its potential, we want to include your voice in our public discussions held around the state. By building alliances between West Virginia University, educators, state and local governments, outdoor industry, and outdoor enthusiasts, we will redefine our state and enhance the quality of life for the citizens of West Virginia.