Harney County Cattle Grazing Study

Meeting Notes:

November 15, 2002

Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center

(Anderson et al. 1998)

On November 15 Wayne Giesy, Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc. (ORWW) Board Member, and I attended a series of meetings in Burns and Crane to discuss this year's spring field trip to the Columbia Gorge, Portland, and the Willamette Valley. The trip is being funded once again by the Clemens Foundation and will be hosted by ORWW in cooperation with the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC). Participants will be students from the Crane and Burns High School Agricultural programs (classes and FFA) and the Burns Paiute Tribe. Other topics discussed included the need to improve computer technologies and Internet communications in the Ag classrooms, and the potential for funding formal curricula and long-term science projects in conjunction with the Harney County Cattle Grazing Study guidelines developed during the 2000-2001 school year. Links to meeting notes follow.

Bob Zybach, ORWW Program Manager.

Spring Field Trip Plans (April 9-13, 2003)
Formal Agricultural Curriculum
Long-Term Research Proposals
Crane Freshman Agricultural Sciences Class
Meetings with Principals Tim Adsit and Ron Wassom
Meeting with Editor Pauline Braymen of Burns Time-Herald

Spring Field Trip Plans (April 9-13, 2003)

The day's first meeting took place at 7:30 AM at the EOARC with Tony Szejcar, Anna-Marie Pimm, Jimmy Zamora, Wayne, and I. The purpose of the discussions were to establish the theme and itinerary of the field trip, potential interest in developing a formal Internet-based Oregon Agricultural Sciences curriculum for High School students, and strategies for funding a long-term research project that involved Harney County students and focused on issues related to cattle grazing.

There is interest in making this an annual affair for agriculture students, with perhaps a different theme and different itinerary for alternate years. It was decided to keep this year's plan about the same as last year's to reduce planning costs and because Crane students would be participating for the first time. It was also decided to involve as many of last year's participants as possible to help ensure the success of the trip by involving experienced mentors and to further refine the educational, research, and outreach aspects for both student and teacher participants.

Tony suggested the theme for this year's field trip should be "Ecological Provinces of Oregon" and that students be prepared to document the different regions they visit in eastern and western Oregon. The maps and citation at the beginning of these notes will form the basis for this approach. Cameras and journals will be provided to students at the beginning of the trip, and their pictures and notes will be included with the "virtual tour" they construct for this website as part of the project. Focus will be on how weather and soils can influence vegetation, and why that is important for agriculture. Secondary themes will be native vs. exotic grazing plants, land ownership differences in grazing strategies, and marketing beef products.

Five to seven students will be selected from Crane and five to seven selected from Burns to participate, with an interest in having the Burns Paiute Tribe involved with the selection process. Anna-Marie will supervise the Crane students and Jimmy will supervise the Burns students, although both groups will act as one with visits, presentations, and website construction. April 9 to 13, 2003 were selected as the best dates to plan the trip.

Proposed Itinerary:

April 9, 8:00 AM students will meet at the EOARC with Tony, where he will explain the focus of the trip and describe accepted methods of good record keeping. This location will be used for students to become familiar with their cameras and journals and to make certain they have sufficient clothing and supplies (rain gear!) for the trip.

Students will then travel to the Hatfield Ranch where they will discuss and record differences in soil, climate, and vegetation from their morning's starting point. They will also learn about the Oregon Country Beef program and why marketing is so important to agriculture. Jimmy will make the necessary arrangements with the Hatfields.

The next stop will be the ghost town of Shaniko and a look at how the cattle grazing industry has changed in some areas of Oregon during the past 100 years. The day will end on the Columbia Gorge, where students will spend the evening in The Dalles. Bob will research local history and prepare a handout for the students.

April 10 will start at Memaloose Island, with a brief discussion of changing land ownership, landscapes, and water rights for irrigation and transportation. The Bonneville Dam stop will expose students to technological changes to the environment. Discussion will focus on technological and agricultural effects on native fish populations.

The next stop will be at LaTourelle Falls for lunch, where students will discuss transport of agricultural products from eastern Oregon to western Oregon via water, trail, rail, and highway. Geological impacts on weather, soil, and vegetation will be examined first hand. Geological changes to the environment will be compared with technological and cultural changes.

Next, the students will visit the Oregon Beef Council (OBC), where they will learn more about marketing beef products, and be able to compare OBC strategies with what they learned at Hatfield Ranch. The evening will be spent in Portland, with dinner at Dan and Louis' Oyster Bar if the students can be talked into seafood.

April 11 will start at a Portland High School (hopefully Jefferson), where students will present their studies to other students of their own age and tour the facilities of the school. Lunch will be at the Lloyd Center, from where students will travel by MAX light rail to Senator Smith's office and the Oregonian. At Senator Smith's they will discuss issues of concern to Harney County cattle grazing industry, and at the Oregonian they will learn how to present their concerns to the voting public via letters to the editor and/or news releases. Dinner will be in Salem with the Oregon Cattleman's Association (OCA), where political action will be discussed. Dinner will likely be beef, as an antidote to the previous day's seafood. The night will be spent in Corvallis.

April 12 will begin with a tour of Oregon State University (OSU). Students will then take part in a workshop during which they will use their photographs and journal notes to develop a "virtual tour" for students, family, and neighbors in Harney County and students in Portland that could not directly participate in the field trip. Differences in soil, weather, and vegetation of the Ecological Provinces they've visited will be highlighted. The afternoon will be spent at Soap Creek Ranch, or a local farm. The evening will be spent in Corvallis.

April 13 will be the return trip home, with brief stops to record differences in soil, weather, and vegetation in the Cascades and central Oregon.

Formal Agricultural Curriculum

Recent talks with Anna-Marie and Albert Gruen (ORWW), Kelly Howard (Clemens Foundation), and Susan Waddell and Mark Finch of COOLSchool regarding the development of a formal Internet-based curriculum were the focus of some discussion. All agreed that there is strong interest and need for Oregon high school students--especially urban students--to study agricultural sciences. Harney County cattle grazing issues could be the focus of one or more modules. Funding needs and operational strategies were also discussed. Anna-Marie and Jimmy agreed to offer curriculum perspectives. Tony agreed to provide scientific overview. Bob and Wayne will continue to pursue funding. COOLSchool will provide infrastructure and design expertise, and may also partner in fundraising. Bob will continue discussions with Susan and Mark regarding COOLSchool participation.

Long-Term Research Proposals

The potential for using the local environment for students to study agricultural issues and learn scientific methodology and public outreach was discussed. The principal issue that developed from last year's field trip--the need to monitor changes to the Steen Mountains caused by the elimination of grazing--was specifically discussed as a long-term need for the community, as well as a long-term learning opportunity. Differences between managed and unmanaged grazing areas could be the theme for such a study. Coordinating such activities with a formal curriculum, Internet communications, and possible summer employment was determined to be the best possible outcome for such a proposal. Tony agreed to work with Bob to develop the scientific design for a proposal, if funding could be obtained. COOLSchool's stated interest in partnering with ORWW (and ORWW's interest in partnering with EOARC and/or Burns Paiute Tribe) in seeking USDA or Ford Family Foundation for such a venture was supported.

Crane Freshman Agricultural Sciences Class

After the meeting at EOARC, Wayne and I met with Anna-Marie's freshman agriculture class at Crane to acquaint students with the ORWW website and promote interest in the Spring field trip. Before her students arrived, we discussed the need for computers, peripherals, and student access to the Internet in the classroom. Existing connectivity is good, but a minimum of six computers, two printers, and a scanner is needed. The potential for obtaining equipment via existing ESD or DOE inventories was discussed. Past ORWW success in working with Siletz School to obtain private funding for a computer lab was also considered.

By the time Anna-Marie's 21 students had arrived, Crane's FFA President, Katy _______(?) had set up a computer and projector, connected to the Internet, located the ORWW website, and had it projected on the blackboard. Everything worked perfectly--thanks, Katy! After introductions and a brief discussion of what we were going to do, scientific methodology, peer review, "agricultural issues", and the importance of "community outreach" to urban populations, we spent the next hour touring the Internet.

One student operated the computer, while others in the classroom decided where to go, when to stop, and what to discuss (comparisons of "flaming toilet bowls" in Harney County with Sulphur Springs in Benton County was an interesting highlight of the discussion on comparative water quality). During the course of the presentation we visited:

1) The Oregon School Website of the Year Awards for the 2001-2002 school year, where students briefly linked to Corvallis and Newport High Schools:


2) The Oregon Lynx Project, where students quickly and easily performed successful searches for Harney Lake (environmental research),


a Burns radio station (public outreach),


and a list of Harney County politicians (political action).


The value of using a single Internet search engine to focus on the environment, media, and government was quickly grasped by the students through this exercise. The relationship to the earlier discussion of scientific methodology, peer review, "issues", and "outreach" also seemed to be made very clear through this process.

3) The remainder of the time was spent taking the "virtual tour" created by Burns students during last year's field trip:


Many of the students recognized their peers from Burns, particularly Marlon Dick and Eric Garner. A lot of interest was generated by what students had reported from last year's excursion--including the discussion on water quality. The video clips couldn't operate because the computer didn't have proper software, but several students quickly volunteered to download the needed software from the Internet sometime after class. "Herman the Sturgeon" was a hit, as was the view from Senator Smith's office--two of the students debated on the location of OMSI from that vantage point. Students seemed fascinated by most of the details; from the formation of Columbia Gorge waterfalls, to eating raw oysters. They knew of the painted "steel cows" in downtown Portland, but learned the "Kows" were made of fiberglass and created for charity via Carol Robinson's report. Eric's adventures with Thomas Jefferson's lap and getting dunked in Soap Creek prompted two students to volunteer as the "designated Eric" for this year's trip! One student seemed excited to go, and wanted to know "how much it cost" (answer: regular attendance, good manners in class, and timely completion of schoolwork).

Students also talked about their current project of constructing brochures describing different varieties of cattle. The possibility of scanning the brochures for placement on the ORWW website was encouraged. The potential for students to review and critique each others' work via this method was discussed. Students were also encouraged to reference their findings, and to use hyperlinks to the growing Harney County Cattle Grazing Study bibliography as a common "library" of information for visitors to the site.

In sum, the students seemed to have a good time learning via the Internet, discussed a number of theoretical issues and specific topics of interest, and displayed enthusiasm for participating in this year's field trip. Both Wayne and I had a great time talking with them and will hopefully get to visit again sometime soon.

Meetings with Principals Tim Adsit and Ron Wassom

After meeting with the students, we visited with Principals Adsit in Crane and Wassom in Burns. Both principals were very supportive of this year's field trip plans and agreed to provide student transportation and supervision for the trip. Clemens funding will be used for food, housing, supplies, equipment, and presentation costs. ORWW will provide plans, materials, expertise, and assistance. Two vehicles will be used for highway safety purposes and to reduce crowding--one from each school. Principal Adsit also strongly supported seeking funds to create a formal curriculum and suggested a specific Meyer Memorial Trust program, in addition to potential Clemens Foundation, Ford Family Foundation, and USDA sources that had been previously discussed. Harney County ESD Superintendent Dennis Mills happened to be at Crane during our visit, and also briefly discussed the potential for formal Internet-based agricultural curriculum in Harney County. He was familiar with the COOLSchool program and also supportive of that form of curriculum being made available to rural students in SE Oregon. Both principals also agreed to sign formal Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) with ORWW in order to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the different parties regarding transportation costs and risks, classroom access for presentations and meetings, and Internet communications between students and outside educators. These meetings were very positive and further increased the likelihood of success for this year's planned activities.

Meeting with Editor Pauline Braymen of Burns Time-Herald

The final meeting of the day was a brief discussion between me and Pauline Braymen at her office in Burns. Pauline is interested in this project and readily agreed to give it local press coverage as events transpired. She also expressed a willingness to work with students to understand and prepare a press release for the Oregonian visit and/or help develop letters to the Oregonian editor. Finally, she strongly encouraged student reports of this project and of school and FFA activities to her newspaper, and pledged to publish "virtually all" of them. She was supportive of the same student articles being published simultaneously on the ORWW website. Students reading these notes are highly encouraged to contact Mr. Zamora or Miss Pimm if you are interested in writing for the local newspaper and/or interested in seeing your work on the Internet as well.

Topics are currently limited to local FFA meetings, projects, and activities, the spring field trip, and cattle grazing issues, but any related reports approved by your teachers will definitely be published on this website and will likely be considered for publication in the Times-Herald as well. Pictures (for now, no more than 1-4 per article) are also welcomed for the website. The photographer should be identified, as well as any people in the photograph, the format should be JPEG, d.p.i. should be 72-100 and total file size for each picture should be under 100k. Email all submissions directly to me (ZybachB@ORWW.org) or to our Webmaster, Albert Gruen (GruenA@ORWW.org). Use Word or HTML software for text.

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