What a relief: Visiting teens escape the heat

By By Bill Rautenstrauch The Observer July 11, 2012 02:05 pm

With June shading into July and temperatures well below 100 degrees, these 4-H kids knew they definitely weren’t in Kansas anymore.

Last week, a contingent of nine 4-H members from Kingman and Harper Counties, Kan., visited Northeast Oregon, staying with host families in rural homes, touring agricultural places of interest, and getting a taste of what their Oregon counterparts do for fun. 


Many of Kansas kids said that at this time of year, Oregon was a relief compared to the arid plains of the Midwest. The weather was hot when they boarded their plane for the Beaver State. Since then they’d received reports from home that temperatures had hit triple digits.

And fortunately, they arrived here before the weather turned torrid after Independence Day.

“I really like it here. It’s much cooler than Kansas,” said Ali Slickner, an 18-year-old from Kingman County who’s been involved in 4-H since she was a child.

The Kansas youths came to Northeast Oregon as part of 4-H’s Teen Youth Interstate Exchange Program, which gives members the chance to see sights, meet new people, make new friends, and experience how others live. The program works two ways, with a group visiting a place one year, then hosting kids from that place the next.

“It’s a chance for kids from across the country to see what life is like elsewhere, without the student experience,” said Union County 4-H Leader Ken Patterson. 

Kansans and Oregonians together visited a mint still and dropped in on Barenbrug Seed in Imbler as a part of a local crop tour in Union County. They also stopped at a fish weir along Catherine Creek where they helped count and tag salmon. 

Hailee Patterson, a 14-year-old Imbler girl, said the fish weir visit was a highlight for many.

“Everybody liked that a lot. I got to hold a really big fish and it was exciting,” she said.

Matt Clark, a 4-H leader and chaperone from Kingman County, agreed the experience at Catherine Creek was a thrill for all the kids.


“They’ve been talking about it the whole time,” he said.

Later in the week the exchange participants roamed farther afield, visiting sites in Umatilla County including McNary Dam, the Pendleton Woolen Mills, and the poplar tree farm operated by Potlatch Corporation between Hermiston and Boardman. Slickner said the poplar farm visit was another high point for her.

“It was interesting to see how the trees are grown and cut down,” she said.  

Clark, a long-time 4-H leader taking part in his first interstate exchange, was also impressed.

“It was kind of mind-blowing to see how they treat forestry like agriculture,” he said.

During the Umatilla County sojourn, the group crossed state borders for a shopping excursion in Tri-Cities, Washington.  Slickner said the shopping was fun, but more importantly, it gave the Kansans and Oregonians a chance spend some quality time together.

Late in the week, the exchange program hit the road for Wallowa County and a tour of agricultural sites. That segment of the visit included a trip up Mount Howard on the world-famous Wallowa Lake Tramway.

Patterson said her family had a fine time hosting three of the Kansas kids, and added that she looks forward to a reciprocal Kansas visit next year.

“They grow different crops, and I want to learn about that. Plus, it’s really warm and sunny there,” she said.