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CCHS exploring possibility of having students working on environmental studies

by: SHELBY CASE/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County High School is working toward students being involved in conducting environmental studies in the Crooked River Basin.

Within a couple of years, Crook County High School students could be conducting environmental studies of the Crooked River Basin.
   That's the dream of CCHS Principal Jim Golden, who said he was influenced to try the project because of the challenges in the Klamath River Basin between ranchers, farmers and others on water supply.
   "And looking at our location here, the high school, next to the Crooked River, we have one of the best natural labs available," he said. "We have a rich farming history here in Crook County.... And it just seems like for the high school, there's a natural opportunity to adopt ...the Crooked River Basin."
   "The whole idea is to get kids out of the classroom, to interact with nature," the principal said. "So we have all these federal agencies, all this expertise."
   Golden said he would love to have students work with farmers and others and learn how "politics, nature and economics all interface."
   Golden wants to develop opportunities for students to work on science projects for their senior projects. Students could conduct environmental studies, mix recreation with their studies, such as in rafting or biking in the wilderness and "understand about economics of the issues."
   The principal wants to work closely with Crook County, the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon State University, the Bureau of Land Management and the Crook County Watershed Council.
   "So the grants I've written are mainly to get kids out of the classroom," Golden said. Originally he was hoping to receive grant information and some funding for next year, but he said the project may have to be done the following school year.
   One is for $1 million from the National Forum For Children in Nature.
   "Their focus is getting kids into natural settings," Golden added. Another grant would be in partnership with the BLM and Forest Service. Golden asked if there are ways to leverage Forest Service money with Crook County funds. Another grant source is through the Smaller Learning Communities, which is a private agency based out of Virginia.
   "You know, we're exploring all of these options," he said.
   Part of the money would pay the salary of a teacher to work with the various agencies, and "to line up projects and work with students" as well as arranging field trips.
   Some students are already working on scientific studies at CCHS. For example, John Gillem is conducting a study of the Mill Creek watershed, according to Golden.
   "I'd like to do some planning around that and then do some planning on a natural resource planning program," the principal continued.