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Rails-to-Trails: WVU professor to talk about economic, health benefits

Christian Abildso

Could rehabilitating old railroad tracks as tourism trails be the secret for revitalizing rural Appalachian communities? Christiaan Abildso, PhD, who serves as an assistant professor at West Virginia University’s School of Public Health certainly thinks so.

Abildso will present his research on rail-trails, including their benefits for community health and growing small local businesses on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. in the Mary F. Shipper Library on the WVU Potomac State College campus in Keyser.

An avid cyclist who enjoys riding on trails and country roads throughout the Mountain State with his family, Abildso believes that businesses located along rail trails in West Virginia have an easier time recruiting and retaining talent, and that the benefits of the trails are not limited to just creating new hubs for recreation and transportation.

Abildso has primarily studied the Mon River Trail System, but his work on public health has taken him all over West Virginia.  His primary research interests include health promotion program evaluation and social-ecological determinants of physical activity, including policy and the built environment.

Abildso earned a master’s degree in education from Boston University in 2002; a master’s degree in public health from WVU in 2007; and a PhD in kinesiology in 2008, also from WVU. 

Local business owners and individuals interested in cultivating a healthier, more productive community in Keyser should come out to share their questions and thoughts.

On-campus parking will be available and free.  For more information, contact Nick Gardner, interim program coordinator, at 304-788-6901 or at