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Education

W.Va. Mom Creates Environmental Stewardship Program For Youth

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Sara Martin Prior (left) and her children Ava Prior, age 9 and Eli Prior, age 6, frequently venture into the woods in West Virginia.

As the pandemic hit and more people ventured outdoors, one West Virginia family saw how the additional visitors affected state public land. Regular hikers found more litter and traffic. One mother saw it as an opportunity to share stewardship with young people.

“Even though it was awesome to see folks discovering the beauty of our home state, it was also alarming,” Fayette County mom and project creator Sara Prior said. “These observations caused my children to start asking questions about the influx of litter and they often showed frustration because of this.”

The program is called a Stewardship Adventure and uses resources from the Leave No Trace program.

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Ava Prior, age 9 and Eli Prior, age 6, frequently venture into the woods in West Virginia and pick up litter.

“As a mom, I wanted to encourage them to be a part of the solution and turn those negative feelings into something positive,” Prior said. “We discussed what we could do to help care for these special places and decided that picking up litter was what we wanted to do to help.”

When Prior saw how the work impacted her children, she wanted to share the story with other families.

“I felt this would be a wonderful way to teach the students at my children's school about environmental stewardship and to take pride in their home state,” Prior said in an email.

The project was funded through the “Meet the Moment” microgrant program. It’s part of the non-profit organization called VELA, which doesn’t require applicants to be affiliated with another non-profit organization.

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Eighteen students will receive a Leave a Stewardship Adventure kit that includes a backpack, nature journal, colored pencils, first aid kit, and litter clean up kit.

Each student will receive a backpack filled with a nature journal, first aid kit, and a litter clean up kit. The students will also receive a scholarship to pay for a service adventure with their family. Students can choose to pick up litter, clear downed branches from a hiking trail, pull invasive plant species, or help park maintenance.

Prior distributed an activity guide earlier this month at Trinity Learning Center in Fayetteville.

Students and their families will have one year to decide how to spend their stewardship scholarship.

Corrected: January 12, 2022 at 12:13 PM EST
The following information was added after publication:
The program is called a Stewardship Adventure and uses resources from the Leave No Trace program.

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