March 09, 2001 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

What Union County qualities will help its young people succeed?

The answer will be provided Monday by Robert Barr of Boise, a nationally known researcher of at-risk children and youth.

Barrs presentation, beginning at 7 p.m. at La Grande Middle School, is free and open to the public.

Barr will discuss the results of the Search Institutes 40 developmental assets survey of Union County youth. The survey was conducted last spring as part of the Take Time for Kids Program. The survey results are used to determine Union Countys developmental assets.

The Search Institute, based in Minneapolis, has surveyed more than a million teen-agers in the the United States in recent years. The institute has found a direct correlation between the assets a community has and the likelihood that youths will avoid negative behaviors such as drug and alcohol use and early sex.

Barr, a senior analyst with the Boise State University Center for School Improvement, will review the results of the survey in Union County and help interpret them.

Barr has appeared twice on PBSs Firing Line, which features William Buckley, and has been interviewed on the ABC Evening News. He also has served as an expert witness at many state and federal trials, and presented testimony to sub-committees of the U.S. Congress.

Barr was previously Director of Teacher Education at Indiana University and dean of Oregon State Universitys College of Education.

Barrs visit to Union County is sponsored by the La Grande Commission on Children and Families, the Union County 24-Hour Relay and the La Grande School District. All support the Take Time for Kids program, which focuses on getting adults in a community to reach out to young people.

Kids need to know that they are liked and respected by adults. When a community supports its children something magical happens, said

Nan McDaniel of the La Grande Commission on Children and Families.