The High School Scholars Outreach and Education Program (SOEP) began as an effort to bring agricultural education to high school where it did not previously exist. By providing laboratory-oriented internships to top achieving and motivated high school students, we hope to provide them with valuable experience and inspiration while also sharing new perspectives on real-life Extension research being conducted at NWREC.
Due to the minimal-to-nonexistent exposure to agriculture in the target audience, a program like this is critical to the advancement of the field. In collaboration with North Willamette Research and Extension Center and the Center for Research in Environmental Sciences and Technologies, students will be given the tools and education to conduct an independent research project. This program hopes to ignite a passion in talented students to pursue careers in agricultural and environmental sciences.
Thus far in the program, the interns have been incredibly successful and are now much more interested in agricultural and scientific careers than before the experience. Each intern will develop an independent research project which he or she will have the opportunity to present and discuss at a number of high school science fairs across the state and nation.
These research projects may develop into future thesis projects or presentations and posters at professional scientific meetings. In 2011, two interns were selected and spent the summer learning laboratory techniques and exploring the field of agriculture. Zaina Zaidan developed a project about the antagonistic ability of endophytes and phythopthora, which was very successful at the district and state science fairs. Another high school SOEP intern, Adrianna Horsey, explored cyanobacteria.
This year, eight high school students from West Linn and Wilsonville were selected to partake in a more structured version of the internship program. With generous support from Clackamas County, these students were provided a unique and valuable experience in agricultural research and laboratory techniques. Regardles of whether the students decide to continue studying agriculture, they are learning valuable skills that they can apply to the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, and writing.
By investing in motivated youth, we can ensure a better future for all.