Conserve Environment Essay Contest

COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Conservation Association has announced that it will send eight Otsego County school students to Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Education Camp this coming summer through a countywide competitive essay contest.

Otsego County students ages 11-13 are invited to compete for camperships via the essay contest (campers must be 11 by December 16, 2017). This year’s contest question is “What would you tell President-elect Donald Trump is the most important environmental issue facing the United States today?” Contest winners will receive a week-long stay at New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Summer Camp, where they will spend their week immersed in the natural environment and enjoy a balance of environmental education, sportsman education, and outdoor fun.

“It’s very important for kids to get outside and connect with nature,” said OCCA Executive Director Leslie Orzetti. “I’m thrilled that OCCA can continue to offer our children this great opportunity. Our past winners have loved the experience they had at DEC camps.” In 2016, OCCA provided camperships for nine students.

Winning essays will be chosen from participating Otsego County schools and Otsego County applicants at large. The deadline for essay submissions is January 27, 2017. Winning essays will be chosen by February 1 and notified immediately. Contest winners will be given a special code by OCCA which will be used to register for DEC camp.

“We’re hoping teachers will be able to incorporate the essay contest into their classroom lessons, but recognize there’s a quick turnaround,” Orzetti said. “Camp registration opens on January 25 and we know they fill up fast.”
Complete contest rules and requirements are available by e-mailing or by calling (607) 547-4488. Teachers who plan to assign the essay to their students are asked to contact OCCA in order to be recognized as a participating school.

OCCA is a private, non-profit environmental membership organization dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, planning and practice. For more information on OCCA, or to support programming, call (607) 547-4488 or visit



Aquaman looked out on the Indian River Lagoon in disgust. After being chased by millions of robot sharks made by Gizmo, the leader of the H.I.V.E., he was tipped off by a fish to go to the Indian River Lagoon. It told him that since the water there was not the water that Gizmo’s robot sharks work in (Gizmo’s sharks only work in salt water, not brackish water), he should go there. Aquaman had heard rumors about the Indian River Lagoon. They were all based solely on the fact that the water was full of trash; the water was dirty, etc.…. Though, Aquaman thought that they were exaggerated and besides, it wasn’t like he couldn’t just stay afloat on top of the water. Still, he was slightly reluctant to go there anyhow. But he would rather go there instead of getting incinerated by millions of robot sharks, though. After looking back at the increasing number of sharks behind him, he thanked the fish and quickly swam away, towards the lagoon. When he had arrived at the entrance the sharks transmitted Gizmo’s angry words and swam away. He snaked past the entrance without being seen and arrived at the shore. “I guess the rumor wasn’t exaggerated”, he said. The water was keeping afloat some soda bottles, machine parts, and was brownish, like there was some other type of liquid other than water in it. He suspected motor oil. “I guess it would look better without the trash and the oil”, he thought out loud. Then, he decided to find the source before picking anything up, because what’s the point of cleaning things up when it just going to come back. After a half an hour of searching he found a pipe with trash coming out, afloat on oil. Aqua man did a victory dance in his head and swam up the pipe. It did not take Aquaman long to swim through the pipe, mainly because e didn’t want to accidently swallow some oil. When he had gone through the whole pipe, he emerged and saw a manufacturing plant. There were hundreds of conveyor belts with things like robotic metal shark fins, teeth, and heads. The pipe up, which he came, was connected to other smaller pipes labeled: Defective parts, Expired/Unused oil, and Gizmo’s trash disposal. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what to do. Aquaman took a piece of metal from a conveyor belt and broke each conveyor belt and pipe. Then, he broke the 3 pipes leading out to the Indian River Lagoon. Fortunately, the oil pipe was above a large fireplace (the H.I.V.E. isn’t good at science, or anything in fact, so they didn’t know that oil fuels fire). Soon enough, the whole manufacturing plant was in flames. By that times though, Aquaman was already gone. When he came out of the pipe, he called his evil fighting companions, the Teen Titans to head to the Indian River Lagoon. They arrived within minutes. Robin and Starfire were responsible for disintegrating trash, Beast Boy and Raven for getting the oil out of the lagoon, and Cyborg for disassembling the machine parts. Within an hour, the 6 had taken out all the trash, oil, and machine parts out of the lagoon. The he asked the Teen Titans for one more favor. They agreed. 10 minutes later, they had arrived at the H.I.V.E’s headquarters. They sneaked inside, into the robot shark control room they went. Gizmo was sitting in a chair fast asleep. Raven said, “Asarath, Mestrion, Sindos!” and Gizmo was transported out of the HQ into the mass of robot sharks. Then, Aquaman hit a button that says: Self-Destruct all fully manufactured robot sharks (or SDAFMRS if you want an acronym). After that, the 6 of them looked out the window and saw lots of bubbles rising to the surface and some pop out and becoming fireworks. They said, “I’ll get you need time Aquaman!” After sneaking out of the HQ and heading back to the Teen Titan’s tower for a delicious dinner, Aquaman thanked the Teen Titans for their help and said to ask him for help if they needed it. Then he headed home, only to find out that it had been blown up by the exploding robot sharks. It looked like Aquaman was going to be busy for a little while…

Jacob, Westside Elementary, 5th grade

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