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There is a lot we can learn from the lands, waters, and wildlife that surrounds us. For a rural community, Harney County has a wealth of knowledgeable, passionate, and generous scientific experts in our community. These teachers, biologists, naturalists, rangeland and wildlife managers, and more are incredible resources to us all, but especially our youth. Throughout the year, they participate in activities that help our community learn more about the natural treasures and fragile ecosystems that make up much of our high desert landscape we call home. By leading nature walks, participating in field trips and field days, or organizing range and science camps, or other activities, these local experts help foster greater curiosity,  understanding, and connections between youth and our natural environments.

With a goal of improving career opportunities for local youth, YCTC partnered with Greater Oregon STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), a resource hub that helps kids prepare for successful STEM careers. GO-STEM is a regional partnership that values STEM learning, prepares youth for successful careers in STEM fields, and builds pathways and pipelines to meet workforce needs. The GO-STEM hub serves seven eastern Oregon counties, equipping area youth with educational tools for field-based activities. 

GO-STEM instructors met with a group of Harney County scientists from Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Crane Union High School, Burns School District #3, Burns Paiute Tribe, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and High Desert Partnership to equip them with effective and helpful educational tools for field-based activities. GO-STEM workshops use the learning cycle as a model to develop and organize a range of real-world field-based activities. This includes hands-on learning where local scientist and other experts conduct engaging and inspiring activities that make learning STEM principals fun. As one participant shared, "On behalf of the tribal staff, thank you very much for bringing the GO-STEM team to Harney County. I think we all learned a lot and had a really good time. Hope to see them back again soon."

Photos by J. Hill Images.

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