I have just returned from an unforgettable experience as an Idahoan delegate to the 2010 National Youth Science Camp (NYSC), held in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Living in a rustic camp in the midst of the beautiful Monongahela National Forest, far from the distractions of technology and usual responsibilities, I was free to study the intricacies of various scientific fields, explore the miraculous nature in the surrounding forest, and develop close friendships with fellow delegates. As trustees of the National Youth Science Foundation, you are an integral factor in the success of the NYSC. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the effort you expend to manage and fund such a quality program.
I am grateful for the NYSC’s commitment to exposing delegates to a variety of career options in the fascinating world of science. Lecturers from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Savannah River National Laboratory, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Google, NASA, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, and numerous universities and medical clinics presented information ranging from discussions of science policy to descriptions of the latest research in genetic diseases to explanations of theoretical mathematics. In addition, I was given the amazing opportunities to study human anatomy via a dissection of a cadaver hand and to learn about graduate school by speaking with grad students about their research projects in such fields as cancer biology, epigenetics, and tuberculosis. The NYSC provided many unique ways to deepen my science knowledge beyond the classroom and textbook.
But the NYSC experience included so much more than science education. In particular, the excellent outdoor program enabled me to step out of my comfort zone and explore new activities. I was able to go backpacking along Red Creek in the Monongahela National Forest, white-water kayaking down New River Gorge, and rock climbing in the Nelson Rocks Preserve. I will never forget the breathtaking views of the lushly wooded mountains, rhododendron-filled forests, and starry night skies of West Virginia.
Finally, the beauty ofNYSC lies in the relationships. Interacting with academically advanced students and staff members from throughout the United States, plus Germany, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago, exposed me to a variety of stories and experiences. From moments of laughter while attempting to learn Latin salsa and cha-cha dancing, to sessions of learning while explaining our science research projects, to times of intense contemplation while discussing our religious and scientific beliefs and values, each interaction deepened our relationships and helped us grow to love and respect each other. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to spend a month with such diligent, goal-driven, erudite, and friendly individuals.
The memories from NYSC will last a lifetime. I am sincerely grateful to you and the entire National Youth Science Foundation for providing such a valuable educational experience.
Nicole Clark, 2010 NYSC – Idaho