CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY)-The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) has canceled three events set for spring and summer 2021 because of concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the second consecutive year, the Make It Shine Earth Day Celebration, West Virginia Youth Environmental Day and state Junior Conservation Camp will not take place. All three events were canceled in 2020 because of COVID restrictions.
“It is with heartfelt sadness that we are announcing the cancellation of these events,” said Annette Hoskins, director of the WVDEP’s Youth Environmental Program (YEP). “We understand how important they are to the young people of our state and we recognize their tremendous value from an environmental education standpoint. But, after much discussion regarding logistical issues and taking into account the significant amount of uncertainty still surrounding COVID-19, we did not feel we could move forward with the events and guarantee the safety of all those involved.”
Sponsored by the WVDEP’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP), the Earth Day Celebration is typically conducted in late April on the outdoor plaza at the Clay Center in Charleston. It annually attracts hundreds of grade school-age students for hands-on environmental education, conducted mostly by WVDEP staff.
Youth Environmental Day, sponsored by the YEP, had been set for May 15 at North Bend State Park in Ritchie County. During the event, young West Virginians are recognized for the outstanding projects they have completed throughout the year that benefit the state’s environment and their communities. Youth Day, which has been in existence since 1964, brings together hundreds of 4-H club and scout troop members, school groups and their families. Hoskins said youth projects will still be judged and winners recognized this spring. More than $15,000 in cash awards is annually presented to the winners.
Junior Conversation Camp, also sponsored by the YEP, was scheduled for June 21-25 at Cedar Lakes in Ripley. The overnight camp, which originated in 1981, normally attracts close to 200 young West Virginians, ages 11-14, from throughout the state. Camp instructors include staff from the WVDEP, along with personnel from the state Division of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and West Virginia University Extension Office.