For our Spring'em program, a group of our Upper School students - with a few dedicated Middle Schoolers along for the ride - spent four days in Eastern Oregon on the hunt for different perspectives around the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation of 2016 and issues around public land management in general. We were fortunate and very thankful to have a wide variety of folks sit and talk with our students about these important and complex issues at play in Oregon and across the West. We began our journey at the Roaring Springs Ranch near Frenchglen, Oregon, graciously hosted by Stacy and Elaine Davies. Stacy manages the Roaring Springs Ranch and is considered not only an industry leader in the ranching world but an important community leader in Harney County. We spent two days on the ranch talking about specific progressive ranching practices, sage grouse, wild horses, juniper management, the BLM, and the creation and effectiveness of the Steens Mountain Advisory Council as well as a wide array of related topics. The Davies were kind enough to invite us into their home to watch the Malheur occupation documentary No Man's Land and to provide their perspective on these events during and since. We subsequently met with a representative of the Malheur Wildlife refuge to talk about their mission and how this was interrupted by the occupation. We then moved on to Burns for a meeting with retired county judge Steven Grasty, who was intimately involved in many events surrounding the occupation. Our final stop was with Mikael O'Casey, a representative of the Oregon Natural Desert Association. We spend a cold night around the fire talking around many of the same issues. On Friday students also met with Nathan Hovekamp, a COCC professor and member of the Steens Mountain Advisory Council, to get yet another perspective. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind of a trip that also involved camping out in driving rain, snow, and temperatures in the teens. A huge shout-out thank you to all the folks that took time out of their day to work with our students. We also could not have been more proud of the investment of time, energy and focus our students poured into trying to understand the myriad points-of-view we were exposed to around so many important issues. They turned out to be pretty good barb-wire rollers as well!
~ Tim Green, Middle School Head