Hi, Joseph O’Brien checking in. As I enter my seventh week in this internship, I can only describe my experience as fulfilling. These past few weeks, I have kept busy by working at summer camps and school programs – ranging from one day to four days (not overnight) – with Extension’s Open Campus Program. Additionally, I have been working with Umatilla County’s 4-H Program to prepare for the upcoming county fair in Hermiston.
The first summer school program I had the opportunity to work with was in Umatilla at McNary Heights Elementary School, for youth who were interested and invited by their teachers to the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program held during the summer. My supervisor, Anna Browne, and I were invited to present a curriculum regarding monarch butterflies. Earlier in the year, Umatilla County was selected for a grant provided by Corteva to educate youth (K-12) in the surrounding communities about the world’s biggest natural phenomenon: the migration of monarchs. At McNary, I talked about the butterfly’s life cycle, its migration from various parts of the United States and Canada to California and Mexico for the winter, the predators that put the butterflies in danger, and the habitats required for reproduction and preservation of these majestic insects.
We also talked about the importance of pollinators and how big of a contribution they make to the food we eat and items we use daily. After learning and discussing this information throughout the days with the youth, we played different games. For example, one involved a milkweed plant, a caterpillar magnet, and other magnets representing predators and food. The object of the game was to pick up the food magnets off the milkweed five times with the caterpillar magnet without picking up the predator magnets that would kill the caterpillar. After completing various trials and evaluating how many larvae got the five food magnets, it was determined that about 1% of eggs live to become a butterfly. Shocking, right?
Another summer day camp was called, “Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs: Manufacturing Camp” (NBT Camp). During this camp, youth received presentations from Boardman Foods, Amazon Web Services, Blue Mountain Community College and Oregon State University faculty members, Umatilla Electric Cooperative, and the Port of Morrow. Additionally, the kids had the opportunity to design and create their own wooden speaker, work together during team-building activities each day, and give a presentation about their future careers/goals. Not only did the kids learn about all the amazing trades and work training positions located here in the Port of Morrow but I learned more about the history of the port.
I also learned how each manufacturing company/business (Lamb Weston, Oregon Potato Company, etc.) in the town of Boardman cooperates to create thousands of jobs, opportunities, and resources for those seeking them. One highlight from this weeklong camp was our trip to the SAGE Center located in Boardman. This location was selected for the new Amazon Web Services “Think Big Space” and will promote classes and opportunities surrounding STEAM for K-6 students. I was honored to sign the construction wall along with the kids with our “big ideas.”
In the next few weeks, I will be mainly working with the 4-H program to prepare for the Umatilla and Morrow County Fair. Most individuals have a hard time working in a fast-paced environment with multiple tasks. Sometimes, people can’t handle these high-stress situations – not me though. As I am going to enter my junior year of nursing school this fall, I know these feelings all too well. I look forward to the challenges and tasks that are bestowed upon me as we enter the fair madness! All in all, I feel very privileged to have these opportunities here in Umatilla and Morrow counties. With only three to four weeks remaining, I am determined to meet more people, collaborate with more programs/organizations, and learn/obtain new knowledge. I would love to give a special thanks to those who have made my internship more memorable so far: my supervisor Anna Browne, Kim Rill, who works for the SAGE Center and helped with NBT Camp; America Pacheco an intern for the Port of Morrow and helped with NBT Camp, Kalie Davis, director of workforce development for the Port of Morrow and camp director for NBT, Shauna Newman, who works with the 4-H program here in Umatilla County, and so many others.
Stay safe and well!