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Youths can connect with nature at 76th annual West Virginia State Conservation Camp

Youths can learn to protect and preserve West Virginia's natural resources at the West Virginia State Conservation Camp held Monday, June 12 through Saturday June 17, hosted by the West Virginia University Extension Service.

High-school-aged youths ages 14-18 interested in exploring natural resource-based careers or expanding their knowledge of the environment, outdoor recreation and conservation are encouraged to apply. In addition to hands-on learning in areas of forestry, wildlife management, nature awareness and more, the camp will offer traditional camping activities such as nightly campfires, recreational sports and other group activities.

According to Mike Hall, WVU Extension Service agent in Webster County, one of the most beneficial aspects of the camp is that it matches participating youths with natural resource management professionals in various disciplines.

"This face-to-face interaction allows youths to see how the professionals work within the natural, economic and social environments to manage and protect the state's natural resources," said Hall. "Campers gain knowledge and skills through hands-on activities that will help them become effective decision makers about conservation issues, regardless of their eventual career path."

Since 1941, more than 16,000 youths have attended the award-winning camp, which is the longest-running youth conservation camp in the nation.

Each morning during the week, campers will participate in natural-resource-focused science, technology, engineering and math programming designed to provide them with a better understanding of the natural world. Campers may find themselves ankle-deep in streams learning about fish shocking — one of many tools biologists use to study fish populations — or pushing through the forest to learn about the diverse flora and fauna in the surrounding environment.

In the afternoon, educational sessions will give way to recreation periods for campers to explore activities such as boating, fishing, outdoor cooking, shooting sports and more.

Interested campers can register online. Full and partial scholarship opportunities are available from many local community organizations and agencies. 4-H members should contact their local Extension office to be matched with a 4-H specific Conservation Camp scholarship—the preregistration deadline for scholarships is May 12, 2017. Other scholarships and registrations are accepted until June 2, 2017 at

The camp is supported and staffed by professionals that are responsible for the management of West Virginia's natural resources, such as local, state and federal organizations and agencies, and the WVU Extension Service.

To learn more about WVU Extension Service and how it works to bring 4-H and other youth development activities to young people throughout West Virginia's 55 counties.