Pulling up to the school building after a fairly long drive I look around and see nothing really all that remarkable. My mom has been talking about sending me and my sister Nadine to this science day camp for about a week now. The car slows down and eventually comes to a stop. My mom turns to me and my sister who are in the back seat and says “Here you are! Enjoy your first day at Hydromania tell me all about it when you get home” She gives us both a kiss on the head and sends us off into the school. At the time I had no real idea about what Hydromania was, so I was very excited to start going every day. However, I was soon disappointed due to how un-engaging most the lessons were. Fast forwarding to today and I have to make a lesson myself, I know I can’t be that boring as well.

Hydromania as I came to learn was a science camp where kids like me would go and learn about different topics in science. My year that I was there I learned about all sorts of things. From lightbulbs to how the McNary Dam works. However, there was one crucial issue with Hydromania for me. It was boring. Really, really boring. Most of the way those topics were explained were in ways that just didn’t interest children. I say this only because it gives context to how I approached my lesson for Hydromania as an OSU Extension intern this summer in Umatilla County. I was determined to make it at least somewhat fun and engaging.

A young man gives an outdoor demonstration while kids watch.
Joeseph Ferguson engages students at Hydromania.

To start I had to find something that would work for a short presentation. Learning from my past experience I knew I had to do something that would be engaging and hopefully interesting to learn about. This was way more difficult than expected. I would spend hours and hours finding a lesson idea writing a plan just to bore myself to sleep with it. I was beginning to worry that I just wouldn’t be able to make any lesson I could teach here fun or interesting. My only real goal here is to teach a subject in an engaging way and at this point it felt like I was failing at that.

Eventually I settled on a presentation idea just to make it fun. I had to engage the kids. So began making the final outline of the plan. I would be teaching them how to separate and identify the three different layers of soil. I would have a jar, a cup of soil and a pitcher of water along with two others already separated jars of soil. I would take time to explain the different layers and what you should look for in healthy soil then the fun part would come. One kid would put soil in the jar while another pours the water and the third will shake the jar for a minute. It’s fun to do so the kids would be engaged.

After all that preparation the day finally came, Hydromania. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Before giving the lesson I was thinking things like, ‘What if I forget things or don’t know what to say?” “What if they ask questions and I don’t know the answers?” Anyway, I began the lesson, and it went well! The kids loved it! They were laughing and having a great time. I hope that helps them remember some of the cool information they learned.

Now that Hydromania has passed, and I won’t be likely to teach it again I had to stop and think about if I achieved my goal. I most definitely did. Getting kids to laugh and have fun with science is something that can be insanely difficult. I know I achieved it. That’s something I’ll always keep in mind – it’s not enough to just know information when it comes to teaching, you also must teach it and show it can be fun.

Hi, I am Perla Gutierrez, and I am on my last two weeks of my summer internship in Tillamook County. I have been a part of a lot of different projects with Open Campus/Juntos throughout this summer, including June Dairy Parade, Family Nights and Juntos Afuera. The whole summer I was working closely with high school Spanish-speaking students and their families, providing a safe environment with activities across Tillamook County.  

Perla Gutierrez (standing) leads an activity with students.

 The Juntos Afuera summer program for high school students included teaching them how to garden, go hiking on several trails, exploring sea life, learning about ancient plants, and kayaking, which was all the students’ favorite, including mine. Each week was focused on something different so I had a different activity that I had to lead, including painting, nature journaling and games to get to know everyone. On the days in which there was no camp, I was preparing for the following week with all the activities and creating the lesson plan for how the day would go. Sometimes that included buying some things at the store to be ready or planning our lesson plans several times until they were perfect. While leading each day in camp I got to know each student and create a bond with all of them.  

We also created events for the whole family to enjoy a day of learning and having fun with other families in the county. One was at Hydrangea Ranch in Tillamook County, where everyone was welcome. We had live music, food, games and some activities involving what we have done in Juntos Afuera this summer. In about a week, we have our second Family Day on the beach. There will be live music and entertainment, with the main event being an Ocean Blessing Ceremony. The planning behind each Family Night/Day is hard because we try to provide helpful resources for the families but also have to accommodate everyone involved in these events. We are about a week away from our event and we are still figuring out some logistics for this day to be perfect. Family Nights are created to show families that there are resources and people that want to help each student reach their goals, and that they can still celebrate and be proud of their culture. 

A group of 13 people hold potted plants
Showing off healthy plants and decorated pots at Juntos Afuera.

With my internship coming to an end, I have my final projects I am helping with, one of those is a STEM Camp. This camp is for incoming eighth-graders, in which will be working in an area I am not familiar with so it will be a learning experience. This internship has been an amazing and challenging opportunity, working with students close to my age, learning how to create a fun environment for them but also remember what we want them to get out of the whole program. I know I have had to think about certain topics in a different mindset which I know will influence my decisions in the future and I am grateful for everything this experience has taught me.

 

Allow me to reintroduce myself, I am Keon Cohl Kiser, a sophomore at Oregon State University working as an intern at the OSU Extension Office in Wasco County. I began my summer internship around June 22nd, expecting to grow professional and people skills in order to obtain work experience and build my resume.

I am supervised by Lu Seapy in the Extension 4-H program, which, among other things, builds healthy communal and familial relationships through fun and educational camps for elementary and middle school kids. I was able to develop my professional and people skills by building new summer camps out of nothing, which includes the curriculum and the overall structure of each camp. The camps that I worked with involved a STEM focus. They included the technological side of building and programming robots and microcomputers and the scientific and educational side of raising awareness of what is considered recyclable and teaching about the local biology of the Columbia River Gorge.

Keon Kiser (middle left) at hiking camp at Catherine Creek Recreation Area.

As I operated these camps, I was able to see what it was like being a leader in terms of organization and maintaining control over an intense or chaotic situation. You can easily lose control when 22 kids all are working on a hands-on project – all at different paces. Unfortunately in some case the kids didn’t make as much progress as we had hoped on their creations and education.

Also, I will have the fortunate opportunity to work with Jacob Powell, Extension crops and livestock faculty in Wasco and Sherman counties. With Jacob I will be assisting in conducting research on forage kochia to study its resistance to fire in very dry environments. This is a great opportunity since not many undergraduate students can say they assisted in a research project, and I highly enjoy being on the field and learning new concepts.

Gladly, my internship was not like what you may see on TV, where the intern is tasked with only making coffee and walking around with papers. I was immediately challenged in doing things I have had little to no experience participating in like teaching and structuring/creating a curriculum on a consistent basis. Out of this internship I was able to get what I initially wanted out of it: Developing professional and people skills, being challenged, getting to know new people and having tons of fun.

I am blessed to have a job in which it doesn’t feel like a job, except when waking up early in the morning to make it on time, I was able to apply the 4-H mission by building relationship and inspiration within the Wasco County youth, and in the process inspiring myself to continue to excel with my own passions within and outside the STEM field.

Theo Sandoz

Hello everyone, my name is Theo Sandoz. I just graduated The Dalles High School, and I am headed to OSU as a freshman in the fall. Through OSU Extension 4-H and FFA for the past nine years I have raised and shown beef and swine projects, done countless presentations and created enough projects to fill a treasure chest full of amazing stuff.  I was told about the OSU Extension internship program through Lu Seapy, 4-H youth development STEM educator in Wasco County. Lu was my robotics coach at the time. I started about three weeks ago and decided that this summer was for me to learn a little bit about everything.

Lu, who will be supervising me this summer, and I have known each other for a long time. She has been teaching science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) camps since I was in middle school. Now it is my job to help her plan and teach these camps as well as other staff here at Wasco Extension. One of my biggest undertakings is migrant education twice a week. We are teaching four STEM classes a day to the children of migrant workers in The Dalles starting at 6 a.m. This happens on the days that our summer camps do not conflict. This week we also have the Amazing Race, Garden Art, VEX IQ Robotics and many other camps.

I have taken on this Internship on top of my job at our local movie theater and working on our farm. This summer I decided that I was going to use all my available time to work as it is the last time before I must start paying for college. The internship program really does mean a lot to me because I have grown up in 4-H and now I am able to give back to 4-H through Extension as well as participating in my last year. Everyone here at the office is amazing to work with and I am glad that I agreed to come onboard!