BLM Goes Back to School
Recently, the BLM went back to school and made nature come to life for a gaggle of middle-schoolers! The BLM’s Salem District Law Enforcement Officer, George Dawn, Fred Greatorex (a.k.a the “New Johnny Horizon”), and Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area bilingual intern, Lucila Fernandez, helped out with the Oregon State University’s International 4-H Camps in Salem, Oregon.
Salem District Law Enforcement Officer George Dawn kicked off his presentation by contrasting a day in the life of a city police officer, a state trooper, and specifically a BLM ranger protecting natural resource lands. He then demonstrated the police tools, (taser and cartridge, expendable baton, pepper spray, handcuffs, officer worn camera and personnel tourniquet), that he carries on the job. He gave a handcuff demonstration and the students, in turn, got a chance to show George what they learned. George’s impact was very evident when a Bill and Melinda Gates scholarship recipient said he would “…like to pursue a career as a ranger!”
Assistant archaeologist Fred Greatorex, dressed as Johnny Horizon, shared his stone and field kits containing volcanic rocks, bones, antlers and artifacts with 4-H middle-schoolers. Fred’s presentation sparked curiosity from the students when they started asking questions about the rock’s origin and its purpose. “I love seeing kids’ eyes light up when they make the connection with archaeology, in that at one time, woolly mammoths and ancient bison roamed the Willamette Valley,” said Greatorex.
Lucila Fernandez, bilingual intern at Yaquina Head through a Partnership with Environment of the Americas, taught the students about migratory birds. Lucila showed them how to use a bird book and binoculars to identify birds found along the Oregon Coast and then helped them observe and identify local birds.
The “4-H International Summer Camps” focuses its efforts to increase the numbers of children and youth from different cultural backgrounds (Native Americans, African American, Latinos, Asian Americans, Middle Eastern, and Caucasians who are first generation going to college), involvement in 4-H to help them to advance to a professional career with the support of community-based organizations, private businesses, Oregon 4-H, and Oregon State University professionals from different colleges and departments.
In Oregon, children and youth from underserved populations, generally do not participate in community-based educational opportunities like after school programs and summer camps. Further, they lack information about careers and how to prepare for college. The summer camps are six-day overnight programs that provide an intensive educational experience for middle school youth. These camps are part of a larger effort to engage underserved children and youth in activities that will help them improve their academic skills, develop leadership skills, learn about career opportunities, how to prepare for college, meet professionals from their own cultural background, meet recruiters from different colleges and universities, and engage them in healthy physical activities. 4-H uses the “Role Model Philosophy” as follows: middle school students participate as campers, high school students as camp counselors, college students as advisors, supervisors, and instructors, and adult professionals as role models, instructors, and speakers. Participants come from all over Oregon. This year, about 90 campers per camp participated. An average of 34 high school students served as counselors. The adult volunteers averaged about 20 per day. These included college students, professionals, community and organization volunteers and the 4-H staff.
More information on BLM's environmental education programs is available online at: www.blm.gov/or/education/index.php