Bill Lynch, Mason Adams, Kelley Libby, Roxy Todd, Chris Schulz Published

O Pioneer, Turtle Travels And Throwing Rocks, Inside Appalachia

Two people stand next to each other in front of a blue background.
West Virginia documentary filmmakers Jonathan Lacocque and Clara Lehmann have a new film out, "O Pioneer."

Appalachians are often called mountaineers — but are they also “pioneers?” A new documentary reckons with what it means… to be a pioneer.

In Michigan, an Appalachian mountain man competes in a championship tournament for skipping stones — and we wade into a mountain wetland to search for one of the region’s most elusive creatures. 

You’ll hear these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

  • O Pioneer Shares A Vision Of Appalachia
  • A Rock’s Throw Away
  • In Search Of The Bog Turtle
  • Trouble Finding Teachers

O Pioneer Shares A Vision Of Appalachia

O Pioneer blends animation and documentary to track the lives of three West Virginians. It explores the question of what it means to be a pioneer — and how those qualities show up in our day-to-day lives.

Producer Bill Lynch recently viewed O Pioneer and then met with filmmakers Jonathan Lacocque and Clara Lehmann.

A Rock’s Throw Away

If you’re standing next to a body of water — like a lake, or river, or even a tiny creek — and there are flat rocks lying there, the impulse to skip them is just about irresistible. Just about anybody can do it. But, some people are really good at it.    

Kurt Steiner of Western Pennsylvania is considered one of the best in the world at skipping rocks. 

In July, Steiner went to Michigan’s Mackinac Island to compete in a stone skipping tournament where he met Dan Wanschura of the Points North Podcast.

In Search Of The Bog Turtle

A bog turtle.

Bog turtles are the tiniest turtle in North America, and among the most endangered. Their habitats are disappearing.

Radio IQ’s Roxy Todd went along with biologists, who are researching how many of these rare turtles still exist. 

Trouble Finding Teachers

Across the country, schools are forced to double up on, and sometimes even cancel classes because of teacher shortages. The problem is felt here in Appalachia, too, where vacancies are often filled by substitutes who lack formal teacher training.

WVPB’s Chris Schulz reported on West Virginia’s efforts to keep schools staffed.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Jeff Ellis, Erik Vincent Huey, Frank George, Lobo Loco, Mary Hott and Gerry Milnes.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Zander Aloi is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens.

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Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.