The Otsego County Conservation Association is offering a countywide competitive essay contest that will send eight middle-school students to DEC Environmental Education Camp next summer.

Working with the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, OCCA will award eight winning essayists – seven from Otsego County and one from Delaware County, compliments of DOAS – with a week-long stay at New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Education Camp, the main focus of which is environmental education.

According to a media release, campers will spend their week immersed in the natural environment and enjoy a balance of environmental education, sportsman education and outdoor fun.

Otsego and Delaware county students ages 11-13 (including 11-year-olds who will be 12 by Dec. 1) are invited to compete for camperships via the essay contest. In 750 words or less, participants are 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.

“This is the second year of our Campership Sponsor Program,” OCCA Executive Director Darla M. Youngs said in the release. “It helps reconnect middle-schoolers with nature through their writing skills and knowledge of science, combined with introspection and real-life experiences.

“Our goal is to strengthen the connection these kids have with the outdoors,” Youngs added.

Eight winning essays will be chosen: Six from participating Otsego County schools, one from Delaware County entries and one from Otsego County applicants at large. The deadline for essay submissions is Feb.15.Winning essays will be chosen by Feb. 25.

“Although the deadline is still some time off, we are announcing the contest well in advance in order to allow teachers time to incorporate the essay into their lesson plans,” Youngs explained.

Complete contest rules and requirements are available by emailing admin@occainfo.org or by calling 547-4488. Teachers who plan to assign the essay to their students are asked to contact OCCA in order to qualify as a participating school.

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 www.occainfo.org.

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