Nine Otsego County students will be enjoying a week at a DEC camp this summer, thanks to an essay contest sponsored by the Otsego County Conservation Association.
Students ages 11 to 14 were invited to compete in the contest, which called on them to write in 75 words or less: “What does the phrase ‘think globally, act locally’ mean to you with regard to the environment?”
The winning essays were chosen from 120 submissions. The students can chose which camp and which week they will attend based, OCCA Executive Director Darla Youngs said. OCCA is a private, nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to promoting the appreciating and sustainable use of the county’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research and planning.
“I feel really strongly about the importance of writing in environmental education,” Youngs said, adding that it’s easier to change behavior in students before they’re more set in their ways.
OCCA will sponsor the trips, thanks to funds provided by private donors. Alternates will be rewarded with a cash prize and the opportunity to attend if a spot opens up.
“Our goal for next year is to have even more teachers incorporate the essay into their class work,” she said.
One of the teachers who participated was Amy Parr, a seventh-grade science teacher at Cooperstown who was not part of the judging panel. The contest offers a great way for students to use what they are learning, to form their own opinions and be able to communicate their ideas, she said, adding that she has been involved for several years.
One of those who won from Cooperstown was her daughter, Sarah Parr, who is 12.
“I was surprised,” because she knew was competing against so many, Sarah said. Her essay talked about recycling and the value of organic products for humans and animals, she said.