Original research projects are the central focus of academic activities of YSDE, but the National Youth Science Foundation recognizes the value of balance and variety in developing experience and wisdom.  All of our programs complement academic pursuits with arts and outdoor activities in order to expand comfort zones and perspective.  Along those lines, students and teachers set out on an 11-mile backpacking trip between the Blackwater Falls Lodge and the town of Davis.

The hikers benefited from an impressive collaboration and connectivity achieved by many local land management interests and trail advocates, including Canaan Valley Institute, the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the National Youth Science Foundation, Blackwater Falls State Park, Tucker County Trails, and the Heart of the Highlands Trail System.  The route featured some beautiful miles on the new Splash Dam South Trail (below), thanks to hard work from HoH, TCT, AmeriCorps, and Tucker County High School.

A few students unable to backpack due to injury or illness enjoyed a tour of the White Room Gallery in Thomas, WV with artist and gallery co-owner Nathan Baker.  Representatives from AmeriCorps NCCC, who were in the area working on service projects, spoke to YSDE students Monday evening before a presentation by Josh Stevens of slides and equipment from a mountaineering expedition on Denali.

With tired feet and a little fresh air in their lungs, YSDE teams will dive back into finalizing their research results tomorrow for presentation at Wednesday’s closing colloquium.

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