POINT PLEASANT — Outdoor activities can come in many forms from fishing and bird watching, to planting flower gardens and even reading, as students learned at this year’s Outdoor Youth Expo.
The expo was held Wednesday and Thursday at the National Guard Armory near Point Pleasant, and is sponsored by Pleasant Valley Hospital. The purpose of the expo is to promote awareness of positive, safe, and drug-free activities for students, families, and communities.
Fourth, fifth and sixth grade students from Mason County Schools were transported to the expo as a part of their school day. They were treated to presentations, exhibits, and activities. Hundreds of prizes were given away to those attending, including bicycles, fishing poles, camping gear and more.
The Three Rivers Avian Center of Brooks, WV presented “Birds of Prey.” The students were given the opportunity to see hawks, eagles, falcons and owls, while learning about each.
The center takes in around 250 birds per year, from hummingbirds to eagles. Many have been injured or attempted to be kept as pets, and are non-releasable. The children were also taught ways they can help wild birds avoid the problems they face.
School psychologists Lauren Ott and Debra Eddy presented “Bullying 101,” an anti-bullying campaign in which the children learned the “Big 3.” If a situation includes the Big 3, then it is truly bullying. They are: 1.) intentionally trying to harm someone, either physically or emotionally; 2.) presenting an imbalance of power, as in, “I’m bigger than you,” or “I’m stronger than you,”; and, 3.) doing these things repeatedly.
Ott and Eddy also told the students what they can do if they are being bullied or see someone being bullied. The children can speak up, reach out, and be a friend.
Many businesses and organizations come together each year to participate in the expo. Superintendent of Schools Jack Cullen said all should be recognized for their dedication and commitment to the event. He noted sponsor Pleasant Valley Hospital, as well as longtime exhibitors Ohio Valley Bank and Thomas Do-It Center. Both provided activities for the students, as well as prizes. Many others do the same, as well, he added.
Randy Searls served as emcee of the event, which was dedicated this year to the memory of George Shell, an expo committee member who passed away in January.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.