Students signing on
Students at Barnes Butte Elementary spent a warm afternoon this past fall checking out some property behind their school doors.
The entire student body sat and listened as City of Prineville officials laid out future plans to turn the newly purchased municipal property into another local park setting, filled with winding hiking trails, fascinating rock formations and Prineville history.
City staff is now inviting some of those same students to further explore the new land and share what they learn with visitors in the form of new kiosks as well as help decide on a logo for the property.
Eric Klann, city engineer, stresses that he has pushed hard for public engagement in how to best use the 460 acres of IronHorse property. A focus committee already meets every fourth Tuesday of the month for an hour at Prineville City Hall, and Klann has specifically targeted involvement from the schools.
"We have gotten really good engagement from Barnes Butte Elementary, which makes sense because they are right there," he said.
Klann points out that local students, with the help of a graphic designer, participated in the development of the Crooked River Wetlands Complex project, and he hopes to complete a similar project on the IronHorse land.
"He has developed a bunch of these logos that we are going to sort through, and I want to get the school involved in that," Klann said. "Then, he is also going to work with three or four classes this spring and develop new kiosks."
Helping facilitate the effort at Barnes Butte Elementary is Academic Coach Sarah Klann. She serves on the city's focus committee and has used some of the information and ideas gleaned from those sessions as she works with students.
"Everybody is really excited about this, and we learned from the initial round at the wetland about how powerful it is to have children involved in these processes," she said. "They have ownership and are excited and are stewards of the community."
The Barnes Butte staff member pointed out that four groups are lined up to help create kiosks for the IronHorse property. One fifth-grade class is researching birds of prey as part of its storyline curriculum, and another class of fifth-graders is looking into the geology of the IronHorse property.
"Our third-grade team is going to incorporate local history of the butte, and that ties right into the standards and expectations of what kids should learn," Klann added.
Another second-grade class will participate in the kiosk-creation process as well, but they have yet to decide what topic to tackle.
During her work at the school, Klann has found the new project really resonates with students and teachers alike.
"The teachers really appreciate that the city realizes the grander reward from involving these kids in the process," she said.