State must find way to keep young people

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — At Camp Pocahontas, on the other side of our state, young people from all over the country are participating right now in the 2015 National Youth Science Camp, for a few weeks of science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities and outdoor fun.

Such an event is important for the Mountain State, but also highlights one of our biggest problems:

“The economy’s not so great in West Virginia,” said Capital High School valedictorian Sarah Clifford, at the kickoff event for the camp. ” … everyone gets what they can from West Virginia and then they’re out.”

In fact, the lecturer for the event, Appalachian Power President Charles Patton explained an offshoot of that problem when he said “while I may want to advance certain technologies, … I always have to keep in mind the … capacity of my customers to pay for that technology. For me to deploy that technology, I have to raise rates.”

And, in West Virginia, the poverty level is such that such an increase might be crippling.

Bright minds like those attending the National Youth Science Camp are precisely what we need to help break that vicious cycle. And, yet, when so many of them get their diplomas and flee as quickly as possible, our losses are only compounded.

Fortunately, we have a combination of natural beauty and human potential, here in West Virginia, that is unmatched and is being used by places like Camp Pocahontas to show off to young people – both natives and those from other states – the assets we do have to offer.

Coal and natural gas are not the only things being extracted and exported from our state. Just as we struggle to reap the benefits from those industries, lawmakers, educators, parents and communities must also take up the task of keeping our greatest resource – the incredible intellect and energy of our young people – here in the Mountain State, where it is so desperately needed.

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