Hands-On Learning

At the High Desert Museum just south of Bend, OSU-Cascades senior Paula Head shows students how a lumberjack can look at a tree and figure out how many logs it can produce. She introduces them to a sawmill and helps them calculate how much each tree is worth. She leads the students in a discussion on why timber is important to a community and they brainstorm a list of everyday items produced from timber.

This is a fitting job for Head—back in the day her grandfather and father both worked at the sawmill that used to run in the Old Mill District. Her grandfather also worked as a volunteer in the Birds of Prey exhibit at the High Desert Museum.


Photo by Lee Schaefer/High Desert Museum

Head works at the museum as part of the Federal College Work-Study program. The Work-Study program is designed to put students to work in the community or in a job related to their studies. A number of OSU-Cascades and OSU students have done work study or interned at the High Desert Museum.

A Bend native, Head earned her early childhood education credential and spent over a decade working in social service programs like Head Start and High Desert Educational Service District before deciding to return to school to finish her bachelor’s. She’ll graduate in June with a degree in human development and family sciences.

When the position opened up the High Desert Museum, Head jumped at the opportunity.

“I love the ooey-gooey-sciency-let’s-get -messy type of thing,” she says. “I like the hands-on learning the High Desert Museum programs offer.”

Head helps with the school programs, where classrooms of students come to the museum to participate in Discovery Classes in the areas of life science, earth science and social science.

On any given day, Head can be found in the “Fired Up” program where students learn about the important role fire plays in keeping a forest healthy, the popular Birds of Prey program, or the Totally Touchable Tales program—a storytelling program incorporating everything from pelts to puppets to live animals. She plans Sensational Saturdays, when the museum sets up learning stations around the grounds for the general public to enjoy.

“It’s great to see the partnership grow between OSU-Cascades and the High Desert Museum,” says Head. “Not only with the work study placements but also with the sponsorship of exhibits like Butterflies and Hummingbirds.”

In addition to working at the High Desert Museum and attending OSU-Cascades, Head interns with the nonprofit Cascades Youth and Family Center—working with the at-risk adolescent population.

“I love the ooey-gooey-sciency-let’s-get-messy type of thing,” she says. “I like the hands-on learning the High Desert Museum programs offer.”

As she finishes up her final year, she’s making plans to pursue a graduate degree in counseling or psychology. She can see herself working as a school psychologist or in an outdoor wilderness therapy setting.

“Kids learn so much through exploration,” says Head. “I’m all about let’s go learn something, let’s go do something! There’s so much to explore.”

Don't miss Butterflies and Hummingbirds at the High Desert Museum, running September 29, 2012 to April 7, 2013.


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