At the kick-off lecture for National Youth Science Camp Thursday, Tim O’Neal, the new director of West Virginia operations for Dow Chemical, encouraged more than 100 delegates to collaborate on ideas and support one another at camp this year.

He also asked parents to support the delegates in their pursuit of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

“I’ll say this to the parents, STEM, it really needs to be the sport your child plays,” he said.

O’Neal, who was speaking at the University of Charleston, noted there are 64 female delegates this year, out of 107 total delegates. He encouraged not only diversity, but inclusion at well, both at camp and in the workplace.

O’Neal explained, “Diversity is saying I’m here. Inclusion is I belong here.”

The 2018 NYSCamp delegates spent the morning at the University of Charleston, School of Pharmacy and completed a round robin with several university professors, including Dr. Gannett Monk, Mr. Joe Murphy, Dr. Susan Gardner Bissett, and Dr. Sarah Embrey.

WOWK-TV also stopped by to cover the camp kick-off. Reporter Haley Kosik interviewed West Virginia Delegate Swagat Bhattacharyya. After attending Purdue University, Bhattacharyya hopes to bring back what he learns to West Virginia. 

Across the Kanawha River from West Virginia’s Capitol, delegates enjoyed free time on the lawn of the university and stretched their legs before heading to Camp Pocahontas.

The delegates had their first dinner in Laura Dill Dining Hall, followed by a tour of camp and staph* introductions.

A more extended photo gallery can be found here.

*Staph is a traditional spelling for “Staff”; our enthusiasm and energy are infectious!