Friday, April 24, 2015

Oregon rural-urban exchange program teaches students about natural resources in both areas

An Oregon exchange program allows rural and urban middle school students to see how the other half lives, while gaining an understanding of natural resource management issues from both an urban and rural Oregon perspective. The 4-H Urban-Rural Natural Resources Exchange, which began in 2006, serves about 100 students each year. Rural 7th and 8th grade students live in a urban home for four days, and urban youth spend five days at a rural home.

Students are expected to help with chores—including working on a farm or ranch— and participate in classes on urban-rural connectedness and dependencies. Urban students learn about the history of the area, "the economics of ranching and agriculture, logging issues, water rights issues and other natural resources management issues from a rural Oregon perspective," while rural students learn about "the history of the area, urban Oregon lifestyle, and the economic, social and environmental issues in Portland which impact sustainability." (Family Search map: Wallowa County, Oregon)

The current program included students from Wallowa County schools and Multnomah County’s Sunnyside Environmental School, Steve Tool reports for the Wallowa County Chieftain. Wallowa County Extension Agent John Williams told Tool, “What we’re doing here is putting kids and families together and letting it happen. We think it’s an effective process. Really, this is all about the kids."

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