The conference was filled with environmental activities for youth ages 13-18, who are members of the West Virginia Youth Environmental Program.
"This is an annual event and we move it around the state," said DEP Youth Environmental Program Coordinator Diana Haid. "This year with the addition of the Chief Logan Lodge and Conference Center we felt it would be a terrific opportunity to visit the southern part of the state."
The conference began on Friday evening when the youth participants were given an assignment which they had to find an answer to during a tour of a mine site.
"We told them that they could only find an answer if they paid attention during the tour," said Haid Saturday afternoon at Chief Logan State Park. "When we get back to the conference center there will be a program where each one will get up and talk about the assignment they were given."
On Saturday morning, the youth were transported to Arch Coal's Coal Mac operation in Logan County to watch a strip mine in operation.
"Youth Environmental Conference participants toured Arch Coal's Coal Mac mine site Saturday morning where we got to see some production where they had the big excavators putting in big shovels filled with rock in the back of large dump trucks," said Haid. "The students were allowed off the bus to compare their height against the unit."
Participants were also taken on a tour by Coal Mac to some reclaimed strip mined sites.
"We also toured some reclaimed sites, areas where they had taken down the mountains and the valley fill they had put up. They had restored the mountains to almost their original contour. That was very interesting to them," Haid said.
The youth also watched a video concerning Coal Mac which described the company, their workings, number of employees and such. Coal Mac also treated them to lunch where they were able to intermingle with Coal Mac employees one-on-one.
"One of the interesting things in the video was a cooperative effort by Coal Mac and West Virginia University where they are planting switchgrass. Switchgrass is being uplifted as being an alternative fuel source and is also used for cattle," Haid said. "This is in the very early stages and hopefully we will see more on what happens with that."
At Chief Logan State Park, participants, along with other activities, visited Museum in the Park and the Wildlife Center.
"We are watching the Hatfield-McCoy Feud video and then we're going to visit the museum, along with the locomotive," Haid said. "We'll also talk about some of the trees and the bark and let the participants do some bark impressions on paper.
Participants were also involved in a program with GPS (Global Positioning System) units where they could set their own coordinates to try to find cache's hidden by organizers of the conference, sort of a treasure hunt.
"Caches are little boxes. We give the kids coordinates and they select one. They use the units like a compass