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June 27, 2013

Local students win chance to attend DEC camp

Following a competitive essay contest, the Otsego County Conservation Association has awarded nine students from three participating schools the opportunity of a week-long stay at New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Education Camp.

Working with the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, OCCA selected the winning submissions from more than 70 essays written by Cooperstown, Milford and Oneonta middle-school students. The top three essay writers, and alternates in the event that the winners cannot attend camp, are:

• Cooperstown: Lydia Williams, John Kelley and Grace LeCates (Catherine Thompson, alternate)

• Milford Central School: Toby Harmon, Finn Hall and Lauren Saggese (Grace Brennan, alternate)

• Oneonta Middle School: Joshua Grimm, Hafsa Mohammad and Gabriella Basdekis (Emma Tavarone, alternate)

OCCA will sponsor the campers at $350 per student, thanks to funds provided by DOAS and a private donor. Alternates will be rewarded for their hard work as well with a small cash prize. Emily Kuhlmann of Oneonta Middle School, who authored the best essay written by a student not applying to attend camp, will receive $50.

Otsego and Delaware county students ages 11-13 were invited to compete for camperships via the essay contest. In 750 words or less, they were asked to consider “Why Environmental Stewardship is Important” and to examine why a healthy, well-managed environment is essential to them now and in the future. Middle-school teachers were welcome to incorporate the essay contest into their lesson plans.

“Many thanks to middle-school teachers Kathy Hardison, Eamonn Hinchey and Amy Parr, who were willing to make the essay-writing exercise part of their class work,” Darla M. Youngs, OCCA executive director, said in a media release. “We went from less than 20 entries last year to more than triple that number.”

“Thanks as well to Jim Hill and Susan O’Handley, who joined me in reading all these wonderful essays. The students’ work provided great insight into how they feel about the environment and their concerns about the issues that face not only their generation but also those to come,” she continued. 

OCCA is a private, non-profit environmental membership organization dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, and planning. For more information on OCCA or to support programming, call, 547-4488 or visit

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