There isn’t a love in this world that can parallel the love West Virginians have for their state. It runs deep – but it isn’t exclusive to those born on West Virginia soil. For some, they adopt the state as their own or, in the case of former Pocahontas County man Wayne Worth, the state adopted him.
Wayne had a difficult childhood that began in Connecticut. After being shuffled through some turbulent years in the foster care system, Wayne was adopted at age 11 by Jud Worth, who was living in Minnehaha Springs at the time.
Wayne quickly became a part of a family, with two brothers, two sisters and loving parents. He also became a West Virginian.
“I became a child of the mountains,” Wayne said. “Growing up in Pocahontas County not only defined my connection to the land, but also instilled in me the value of family and community. The principles that I stand for and the success I experience in life all originated in Pocahontas County. My experience of being supported with the utmost love and compassion for who I was, the goals I set for myself and my contribution, had a profound impact on my future and was something that I wanted to share with the world.”
As a way to give back to the state where he found family and an unconditional love he never saw coming, Wayne set out to create something through which to share personal experiences of his home.
It began in 2005 when he visited the 55 county seats to learn more about his adopted state.
“I wanted to gain a better understanding of a state that provided me with a family, community and opportunities for success,” Wayne said. “I thought what better way to do that than to travel to all fifty-five counties – mainly all the county seats. Then in 2007, I made a second trip to all of the counties to see the areas that I didn’t get time to see during the first trip.
“The third time I traveled through all of the counties, in 2009, was one I did with my brother, Christopher Worth,” Wayne continued. “He wanted to see and learn about every county. Through my travels, I learned a whole lot about our history and how politics, economics, industry, faith and our mountains played a role in our heritage and culture.”
In 2011, after moving to Clarksburg, Wayne decided he wanted to take the knowledge he gathered through the three trips and share it with the world. Through brainstorming with others, Wayne reached the decision to make a documentary.
“It was an ex-girlfriend that gave me the idea of making a video documentary of the history of every county told by the people in every county,” Wayne said. “I thought ‘wow, now that was original.’ I took the idea, refined it a little and boom, ‘Journey into the Wild and Wonderful’ became a reality in March 2012.”
“Journey into the Wild and Wonderful” is a series of 55 documentaries – one per county – featuring interviews with people talking about the history and beauty of each county.
While it’s hard enough to create one documentary, Wayne knew one just wasn’t enough.
“The one thing I learned in my travels, is that every county has its own culture, politics and local pride,” Wayne said. “Maybe it’s because of how our mountains isolate us. Whatever the reason, all history seems to be local in our state, so I thought to capture the history of all fifty-five counties told by people who are invested in preserving and promoting that history, would be to capture West Virginia’s complete history.”
To date, Wayne has interviewed nearly 90 people and completed 42 county documentaries, including Pocahontas County. Wayne hopes to have all 55 complete and online by November 2015.
“I will provide this complete history of West Virginia told by our wonderful people to everyone free of charge,” he said. “It will be an online documentary broken up into fifty-five segments. My main goal is to have every eighth grade West Virginia History teacher in the state to incorporate it into their lesson plans, where they can access a website and easily play a twenty to forty minute video of the history of any county.
“I believe it’s important that our youth get even more of an in-depth understanding of our history, beyond the textbook,” Wayne continued. “I want everyone who watches the ‘Journey into the Wild and Wonderful’ videos to come away feeling connected to that history – our history.”
The documentary series may be found online at www.journeyintothewildandwonderful.com
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org