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Donation modernizes Oregon social studies for Otto Petersen fourth-graders

Columbia County Farm Bureau donates $1,500 toward acquisition of "Get Oregonized" textbook

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Columbia County Farm Bureau members Shirley Sabo and Marie Gadotti stand with Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom executive director Jessica Budge. Gadotti holds one of the new textbooks that was donated to the school.Fourth-graders at Otto Petersen Elementary School can now “Get Oregonized” after a donation of Oregon social studies books was made Thursday, Sept. 10.

The books were given in part by the Columbia County Farm Bureau, which donated $1,500 toward the cost of the 180 books and six teacher guides. The total $3,750 cost was paid partly by the donation and partly from the school's general fund.

The school had been using “Oregon Adventures in Time and Place” in the fourth-grade classrooms, a book that hadn't been updated since the 1990s.

"Get Oregonized" was written by Oregon teachers and is edited and published by the Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation. The book covers everything from history and mapping to geology and local agriculture. The most recent version was published in 2013.

“The passion for Oregon and the interest in Oregon is really in this book,” said Jessica Budge, the foundation's executive director. “[It's a] really neat piece of this book.”

Fourth-grade teacher Kristy Larson and retired fourth-grade teacher Beth Zelfer helped secure the book donations.

Zelfer had requested new books from the Scappoose School Board as a retirement gift last year. She reached out to the Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation to learn more about it and what was possible.

Meanwhile, Larson had heard about the Deschutes Farm Bureau making a donation to acquire the same books in Redmond, so she contacted Marie Gadotti, vice president of the Columbia County Farm Bureau, to see if they could do the same.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOL THILL - Karen Stoel, a fourth-grade teacher, helps Eli Harrah, a student, make a 'living necklace' with a bean wrapped in a wet paper towel. Students participated in the activity designed to teach them about agriculture and food, after the textbooks were donated last Thursday.“Oregon social studies have changed and we were teaching from books that didn't have updated information,” Larson said. “It was definitely outdated and a lot of the information was not current.”

The Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides materials, classroom activities and a free loaning library for teachers to incorporate agriculture and industry into class curriculum. With the old books, teachers were supplementing a lot of material to make up for the outdated material, Larson said.

As a teacher, having current information to teach, such as what is presented in "Get Oregonized," has been a great benefit, Larson said.

"It addresses the new standards, and we can be teaching what were supposed to be teaching and have the resources right there in front of us," she said.