Students brave, and learn about, the elements at event
With bouts of rain buffeting the Newberg area throughout the day on Friday, fifth grade students from four of the six local elementary schools descended on Newberg High School for some outdoor learning. Under the protection of greenhouse roofs and canopies set up by organizers, the students had a chance to meet and learn from representatives of local fire prevention and environmental agencies from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Fire Safety and Outdoors Field Day – organized by NHS graduate Quentin Comus, senior Macy Showalter and others from the student-led Chehalem Valley Watershed Project – sought to bridge partnerships with local entities and provide a positive learning experience for students. Students went through various stations and learned about some of the entities in their community, while also doing some fun activities like spraying a fire hose.
"The stations are run by representatives from various local nonprofits and agencies, along with high school students," Comus said. "TVF&R was there, ODFW and a wide range of other agencies who spent time talking to students about the basic topics involved in their work.
"Kids are already involved in or learning a lot of this stuff at their schools, so this is really an extension of that. We designed this event to meet the curriculum of the various schools and teachers in a fun and interesting way."
CVWP is a student-run conservation group that has three primary focuses: research, restoration and education. Comus, who was among the student leaders of the group before his graduation from NHS in June, said Friday's event falls under education on the organization's checklist. He even returned from college in Bend to attend and help organize the event.
The field day, along with the environmental symposium that CVWP held earlier this year, is an opportunity to teach kids in the community about various professions and introduce them to experts on a variety of topics, from fire safety to the environment and how to protect it.
"This is our opportunity to raise awareness and connect the agency sector and the public on these subjects," Comus said. "We're getting students engaged with the professionals who are doing this work in the real world. This exposes them to some of the stuff they do and applies it to what they learn in school."
With Showalter doing much of the work around Newberg and Comus helping with much of the outreach to local organizations, some of whom he had existing relationships from last year's event, CVWP is hoping the success of this year's field day springboards into an annual event for students every year. It's also a chance, Comus said, for the community to come together in a unique way.
"This is a really unique opportunity for a lot of these agencies to do outreach to the community," he said. "A lot of the agencies we're working with don't have the staffing to do this, so we've been fortunate to be able to partner with them and have them come out and speak. Normally, they'd be in the office doing their jobs – and this speaks to the kind of connection we're cultivating that benefits the agencies and community."
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