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Valley Students Set For Trip to Mountains

By Staff | Apr 6, 2016

Valley High School’s Outdoor Odyssey trip can perhaps be credited to these little guys — trout. A Earth Sciences class trip to Pocahontas County to set the trout free has evolved into a school-wide trip full of fun outdoor activities for all students. Photo by Lauren Matthews

With it now being the month of April, several Valley High School Sportsman’s Club members are officially counting down the days until the third annual trip to the mountains of West Virginia.

Travis Leek, David Morgan, and Tyler Stoneking are three VHS sophomores excited for their second “Outdoor Odyssey” trip.

All three boys hunt, fish, and trap. Leek said he loves the trip because he loves being outdoors.

The origins of Outdoor Odyssey can perhaps be traced back to VHS’ Earth Sciences class, where students taught by Aaron Allen participate in the “Trout in the Classroom” program. This nationwide club works to have trout flourish in the streams of West Virginia and other states. VHS first became involved in the program after reaching out to WV Fly Fishing School Dean Bubba Holt, who suggested the program.

A trip to the mountains to release the fingerling trout exploded into so much more in 2014 as Outdoor Odyssey, organized by the Sportsman’s Club, was open to the entire VHS student body.

Students who have gone on the trip have never been required to be a member of the Sportsman’s Club; however, the past two years students have had to “earn” their seat by participating in five activities sponsored by the club. These activities include helping out at the Sportsman’s Club’s bow shoots, assisting at the Pine Grove Sons of the American Legion’s annual fishing derby, and helping out at the annual picnic organized by the Wetzel County Coalition Against Drug Abuse and Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office. By giving back to the community by participating in just five of these projects, a VHS student has earned his or her way on a trip that includes plenty of fishing, spelunking, or workshops by various experts on nature. Individuals who gave presentations during last year’s trip include Zac Evans, federal trapper; Roy Moose, forestry service, and Bubba Holt, Trout Unlimited.

“More kids should get into it,” Leek emphasized of the trip.

Though the trip takes place in an area where there is no cell phone service, all three boys did not even seem to pause when reflecting on such, even agreeing that they would have liked for the trip to last longer. Leek noted that he was never bored and “slept good” at night.

The trip also offers a chance of students to step out of their comfort zones. For instance, Tyler Stoneking willingly allowed to have a snake draped across his neck. The trip wasn’t just for engaging in such adventure though.

Leek, Stoneking, and Morgan can all readily give random nature-related facts that they learned from seminars. One such fact is that it is illegal to kill a snake in West Virginia. Snapping turtles are the only reptile that can be killed legally.

Stoneking did receive an award for his bravery, as prizes and awards are given to campers for various accomplishments.

This year students will perhaps return from the mountains of West Virginia with a new collection of nature-related information. Kristi Earley, an advisor of the Sportsman’s Club, explained that on this year’s trip, two Ph.D. students who are working with the DNR on a bobcat study will be sharing information.

Earley is also in the process of gathering Brenda and Woody Harman as guest-speakers. The duo was recently featured in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia magazine for their broom making skills. Earley also stated that Woody has a portable blacksmith shop.

Earley, along with other adults involved on the trip, are careful to give credit to those who have helped to make Outdoor Odyssey such a success, such as local law enforcement.

Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Donald Bordenkircher, who is a Prevention Resource Officer at VHS, has attended each Sportsman’s Club trip. Bordenkircher has been able to bring his wife, WCSO Deputy Mary Bordenkircher, along with him on the trips. Last year, WCSO Deputy Roger Spragg, along with his family, attended the trip.

Sistersville Police Chief Rob Haught was among law enforcement who participated in the trip. Stoneking noted that Haught showed students how to build a fire.

Besides taking the opportunity to teach students and engage with them in activities such as skeet shooting, law enforcement also took turns patrolling the camp at night.

Other credit is given to the county commission, who has provided monetary support for the trip again this year; Dominion provided hard hats for cave spelunking, while Harrison County Parks and Recreation allowed students to use its lamps.

Besides the WCSO deputies, other chaperones included Billy and Melissa Midcap, Heather Bassett, and Robert Brown. Bassett is credited for often cooking for the masses, including frying fish that have been caught. It was noted that all trip attendees do take turns on kitchen cleanup however.

Martin?s Hardware, The Trading Post, and Cabelas have all supported the trip with items, and furthermore, Scott Shannon of the Valley Diner made salad dressing and hot dog sauce for the Sportsman’s Club to take on the trip. Mike McGuane has been credited for being a continued supporter of the Sportsman’s Club.