POINT PLEASANT – Two days, 50 bikes, snakes and hundreds of children.
Put them all together and you have the Mason County Outdoor Youth Expo, held last week at the county school board complex.
Fourth, fifth and sixth graders from Ashton, Leon, Roosevelt, Beale, New Haven and Point Pleasant Intermediate elementary schools had the opportunity to attend four different half-day sessions. The event has been held since 2000, with the exception of the last two years due to COVID-19, and its mission is to promote awareness of positive, safe, and drug-free recreational activities for students and their families.
Presentations were given by Gabe Roush on bike safety, as well as Roy Moose and Jim Fregonara on “Snakes Alive”.
Roush told students to remember their ABCs while observing bike safety. The letters mean: A – air pressure in the tyres; B – brakes which must be in good working order; and, C – strong, oiled, rust-free chain. He also stressed the importance of having the right size bike, wearing protective gear like a helmet and wearing closed-toe shoes.
The “Snakes Alive” presentation is always popular with children, as they are shown a variety of live snakes native to West Virginia. The students were told that snakes play an important role in the state and that it is illegal to kill one because they are endangered. These brave enough students were allowed to hold both small and large snakes.
Over 50 bikes were given away over the two days to lucky ticket holders. Other prizes were also given out to help children enjoy the outdoors, such as sleeping bags, fishing rods and various sports balls.
The students were then released to visit the booths and activities. They appreciated gifts like books, snacks, book bags, stress balls and cowbells. Activities included face painting, making first aid kits, archery, playing musical instruments and a petting zoo.
Dr. Keith Burdette, superintendent of schools, opened the sessions, with former superintendent Jack Cullen acting as master of ceremonies. Cullen asked the students to thank those who organized exhibits and activities. He praised the corporate sponsor, Pleasant Valley Hospital, which he said has been involved with the exhibit from the start.
Members of the exhibition committee include Jack Cullen, Joann Cullen, Leigh Ann Shepard, Lorrie Wright, Paul Nichols, Randy Searls, Rodney Wallbrown, Tracy Call, Rachel Ayers, Amy Mullins, Howie Mullins, Josh Russell, Shayla Blackshire and Ed Lowe.
Those hosting exhibit booths and other features were Aetna Better Health, Andrea’s Army, Branches Domestic Violence Shelter, DARE Program, ICL, Mason County Animal Shelter, Mason County Bus Drivers, Mason County CEOS, Mason County Convention and Visitor Office, Mason County EMS, Mason County Health Department, Mason County SADD – Wahama, Mason County Schools Curriculum Department, Mason County Schools Food Service, Mason County Solid Waste Authority, Mason County Teen Community Leaders, Mason County Career Center FFA,
Ohio Valley Bank, Pleasant Valley Hospital, Pleasant Valley Hospital Wellness Center, Point Pleasant Bike Trail, Point Pleasant High School Marching Band, PPJSHS Cheerleaders, Snakes of WV US Forest Service Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, Thomas Do It Center, UniCare Health Plan of WV , US Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit, Western Conservation District – Soil Conservation, West Virginia Department of Agriculture Animal Health Division, WV National Guard, WV State Police, WVDNR Operations Center/Wildlife Diversity Program and WVU Extension Mason and Wayne counties.
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Gabe Roush from Pleasant Valley Hospital presented a bike safety course at the Outdoor Youth Expo. He told the students that the proper size of the bike they use is important.
Jim Fregonara of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources is pictured with students at the Outdoor Youth Expo, holding gear that shows the size of the world’s largest snake.
A petting zoo was featured at the Outdoor Youth Expo, including farm animals.
Prizes allowing students to enjoy the outdoors were awarded during the Expo jeunesse plein air. In the photo, a girl won a scooter and a helmet.
More than 50 bikes were given to lucky ticket holders at the Outdoor Youth Expo. Pictured is one of them.
The Point Pleasant High School Band had a variety of musical instruments for the students to try out for the Outdoor Youth Expo.
Volunteers from Andrea Army High School painted the faces and hands of those who attended the outdoor youth exhibit last week.
Students had the opportunity to make small first aid kits at the Outdoor Youth Expo, offered by Pleasant Valley Hospital. They also received a lesson on the amount of sugar in soft drinks and juices.
Holding snakes is still one of the most popular activities at the Mason County Outdoor Youth Expo, which was held last week for fourth, fifth and sixth graders. The two-day event allows the six elementary schools to enjoy half-day sessions, where they learn about fun outdoor activities, as well as safety. The students had the opportunity to try their hand at archery during the Outdoor Youth Exhibition. Although the exhibition started in 2000, it has not taken place for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at [email protected]