Charleston, WV –  On Wed. July 20, the National Youth Science Camp said goodbye to 120 delegates from over 40 states and 12 Western Hemisphere nations. 

The NYSCamp has been a preeminent West Virginia-based STEM program since its inception in 1963 as part of the state’s Centennial. This year’s virtual camp presented the most interactive STEM education programming in its 59-year history, comprising 320 interactive sessions from 95 presenters. It included 15 keynote lectures, four panel discussions, two concerts, and virtual tours of the National Gallery of Art and the Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory. 

The program featured keynote lectures, panels, and presentations from many current and former West Virginians. This programming included:

  • The lecture “STEM and Drug Control Policy” from Rahul Gupta, MD, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and former West Virginia Health Department Official
  • The lecture “Science Communication and Podcasting” from Sydnee McElroy, MD, Assistant Professor and Family Physician at Marshall Health, and co-host of Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine, 2005 Marshall University Yeager Scholar 
  • The lecture “Gonads: History, Anatomy & Diversity” from Suzanne Strait, PhD Professor of Biological Sciences at Marshall University and Associate Director, Division of Science and Research at the WV Higher Education Policy Commission
  • The Martha Wehrle opening lecture “Neuromodulation: Clinical and Experimental Applications” from Jessica Frey, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology at West Virginia University, and 2008 PA NYSCamp delegate
  • The panel discussion “How Data Informs Digital and Social Media Strategy” from Alex McPherson, Vice President, Director of Business Intelligence at Methods+Mastery,  7-time International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication award-winner, 2020 West Virginia University Reed College of Media Young Alumnus, and 2007 WV NYSCamp delegate; the panel was hosted alongside global executives from YouTube and Lululemon

Additional West Virginia presenters included:

  • Alyson Wilson, PhD West Virginia University alumni
  • Anna Mummert, PhD Professor of Mathematics at Marshall University
  • Bill Gardner Associate Professor in the Cyber Forensics and Security program at Marshall University
  • Brian Kinghorn, PhD NYSCamp Director and Associate Professor Curriculum, Instruction and Foundations at Marshall University
  • David Trowbridge, PhD Associate Professor of History at Marshall University
  • Scott Simonton, PhD Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Marshall University
  • Ellie White Marshall University Yeager Scholar 
  • Rick Walker, MD Huntington resident and former Marshall University professor
  • Ryan Haupt, PhD National Youth Science Foundation WV Programs Director
  • Ryan Sincavage, PhD National Youth Science Foundation WV Programs Assistant Director
  • Sue Ann Heatherly, Senior Education Officer Green Bank Observatory

Delegates and presenters alike were impressed by the NYSCamp, which gave them a new appreciation for STEM and the state of West Virginia. 

“The NYSCamp is a tremendous resource that needs to be brought to more people’s attention. It is a true hidden treasure,” said Dr. Chuck Clevenger, Professor and Chair of Pathology and Associate Director of Precision Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. “First and foremost it is a valuable experience to the delegates as a chance for them to explore, listen, learn, and hear cutting-edge science. It’s very hard to get all these things all in one place, and the NYSCamp does this very well.”

“The NYSCamp’s work to bring together delegates from across the country and world is not only vital for STEM awareness, but it is important as a place for future leaders to discuss the art of science as they cultivate lifelong friendships. It brings about the future of STEM in a way that does not happen often. It is invaluable,” said Dr. Gupta.

As early as the second day of camp, delegates were suggesting they should make a pilgrimage to West Virginia. 

“We should have a special camp in December where we all meet up for a few days in person in WV. That would be so fun to complement this!” said Siddharth Chitta of Florida. 

“My camp experience has been amazing. I love every activity that we’ve done! I think that the seminars scheduled are just so informative and I love the knowledge that I’ve got these two weeks,” said David Salas Mendez of Costa Rica at the camp’s midpoint. “This second week was just so great and I am so grateful for those people who are trying their best to make our camp experience better! This time in camp will always be in my heart and I hope one day to visit West Virginia, so I can know the National Youth Science Camp in person!!!” 

By the end of the camp’s Farewell Banquet over 30 delegates spoke about their NYSCamp experience, leaving not a single dry eye on the Zoom call. 

“It didn’t feel like it was virtual at all,” said New York delegate Anitta Kottai. Argentina delegate Gabriel Antequera added, “Best three weeks of my life.”

“The last few weeks have been tremendously humbling and they made me rethink the purpose in everything that we do and the greater impact that science can make on generations to come,” said California delegate Aadity Sharma. “The ending of camp has left some beautiful memories, and I hope that we all stay lifelong friends, and we keep in touch forever.” 

Since its inception in 1963, the NYSCamp has honored over 6,200 students, giving them the opportunity to participate in a rigorous STEM enrichment program. Operated by the National Youth Science Foundation, its mission is to inspire lifelong engagement and ethical leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through its proven educational model for mentoring, challenging, and motivating students.