At the September 10 Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, county native Beth Henry-Vance addressed the board concerning her new position as the District 3 Coordinator for the Youth Environmental Program (YEP), which is part of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Henry-Vance explained that her district covers 10 counties in the state, including Pocahontas, and she wanted to make the board aware of the programs offered through YEP.
“It provides an incentive for young people to actively participate in environmental projects within their communities,” she said. “This program offers more than fifteen thousand dollars in cash prizes and other awards each year, including a four-year college scholarship.”
Projects through YEP include planting trees, building nature trails, performing litter clean-ups and recycling programs.
Both schools and youth groups can enroll in YEP and become eligible for the monetary awards by actively reporting on the projects they implement in their communities and counties.
Along with the awards, Henry-Vance said there are several camps and educational programs available through her office which can be implemented in the classroom.
“Our activities include a Junior Conservation Camp for one week in June for ages eleven to fourteen, and a Youth Environmental Conference for teens during one weekend in October,” she said. “They all have hands-on activities about recycling, wildlife and clean water. Scholarships are available for students who are part of schools and clubs that are enrolled in the program.
“It’s kind of like 4-H camp,” she continued. “It’s really fun. Tons of stuff going on. They’re divided into eight different color groups, and they learn all kinds of cool environmental-related things, and they get to go fishing, which is the big draw.”
The educational programs include Project Learning Tree and Project WET which Henry-Vance is trained to present at schools.
“They meet state and national academic standards in science, math, language arts, social studies and other subjects,” she said. “They’re for PreK through twelfth grade,” she said. “They can fit into just about any classroom and meet the standards for curriculum. I went through the training, and I have a couple of nice big books of fun stuff.”
Henry-Vance added that the coordinators for both Project Learning Tree and Project WET are available to offer training to teachers in the county for those who are interested.
Along with the youth programs, Henry-Vance mentioned several programs the DEP has implemented including Adopt-a-Highway, Adopt-a-Spot, Make It Shine and Operation Wildflower.
“There’s also a program called Operation Wildflower which accepts donations to create wildflower sites in memory of or in honor of a loved one or for a club or business,” she explained.
Henry-Vance provided handouts which have information on the YEP and the many programs offered through the DEP.
“I just wanted to introduce myself and reach out,” she said. “I’d also be happy to meet with teachers and principals in Pocahontas County to hear about their ideas for projects or existing programs that are already going on.”