It’s important to be educated, and it’s great to be entertained. Thanks to a program launched by Eastern Oregon University and Blue Mountain Community College, people have a chance to combine the two this summer.
‘The key is, people can enjoy a staycation in La Grande or Baker and at the same time learn about the region.’— Marilyn Levine Dean of arts and sciences at Eastern. The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
In July and August, Eastern and BMCC are offering two-day courses that accent the history and heritage of Eastern Oregon. Several of the courses have been scheduled to coincide with festivals in Union and Baker counties.
“The key is, people can enjoy a staycation in La Grande or Baker and at the same time learn about the region,” said Marilyn Levine, dean of arts and sciences at Eastern.The courses are open to admitted and non-admitted students, and carry no pre-requisites.
Among them is the “History of Eastern Oregon,’’ taught by BMCC history instructor Taryn Suchy.
Suchy will present the course in La Grande July 24-25. That session coincides with the Huckleberry Festival July 25 in North Powder. Suchy will again teach the class July 31 to Aug. 1 in Baker City.
“Rural Tourism,’’ taught by Eastern Associate Professor of Business Peter Diffenderfer, takes place in Baker City July 16-17.
It dovetails with the Baker City Miner’s Jubilee, scheduled July 17-20, as does “Gold Mining in Eastern Oregon,’’ taught in Baker July 16-17 by Kendall Baxter, retired EOU physical and earth sciences professor.
Another Diffenderfer course, “Tourism in Eastern Oregon,’’ takes place in La Grande Aug. 17-18, and falls neatly between the Cove Cherry Festival Aug. 13-15 and La Grande’s Crossing the Blues festival, Aug. 21-22.
Baxter will also teach “Geology of the Grande Ronde Valley’’ July 10-11, coinciding with La Grande Crazy Days and Car Show July 10, and the Elgin Stampede July 9-10.
In addition, two regional writer’s workshops are being offered, in Baker City July 31 to Aug.1, and in La Grande Aug. 14-15. The workshops are conducted by Nancy Knowles, co-director of the Oregon Writing Project.
Other events happening around the courses are offered include the Union County Fair, July 29 to Aug. 1, and the Baker County Fair, Aug. 5-8.
Levine said the history and heritage courses are timely also because of the ongoing Oregon 150 celebration, which commemorates the 150th anniversary of statehood.
“These courses are all interactive and heritage-rich,” she said. “We wanted to tie them into local festivals and Oregon 150.”
She said Eastern and BMCC hope the courses increase tourism in the region, and do the local economy some good.
“The innovation is partnering with the community and promoting festivals,” she said. “We are here to serve the region and a lot of our effort is to bolster tourism.”
She added, “People taking the classes will realize there are a lot of things to do here.”
All the courses are two credits and will be offered at lower and upper levels, with the ability to enroll for graduate level credit for the authors workshop and tourism courses.
Those registering for lower division credit will register with BMCC, and for the upper division and graduate credit students will register at with Eastern.