Four students from Hood River represented the Gorge and Oregon at the Chief Science Officers (CSO) International Summit in Washington, D.C., this month. They were joined by two additional students from Eastern Oregon.

Gorge representatives included Lucas Elliot, eighth grade student at Hood River Middle School; Grace Guertin, sophomore at Hood River Valley High School; Leah Sandahl, seventh grade student at Wy’east Middle School; Hailey Stuben, eighth grade student at Wy’east Middle School; and Kathryn Davis, science teacher and CSO advisor at HRVHS.

The goals of the International Summit were to expose students to new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) career opportunities, help develop their skills in STEM advocacy, and empower them to have more effective action plans.

Action plans are projects the CSOs are developing to further STEM experiences in their communities.

Some of their action plans include supporting Columbia Gorge STEM Hub’s new Maker Clubs and working with HRVHS teacher Jeff Blackman to bring 3D printers to the Gorge Fab Bus.

Guertin said that attending the International Summit helped her realize that “young people can have a voice and change something in the adult world.” For instance, the students were also able to meet with staff from Senator Merkley’s office, where they advocated for better STEM education funding and providing more STEM opportunities in rural areas.

Said Guertin, “(The CSOs) enjoyed discussions with people that average citizens don’t get to talk to, like staff from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House and Dr. Cordoba, the director of the National Science Foundation.”

Chief Science Officers is a nationwide program encouraging student leaders to work with their schools and communities to increase opportunities to engage with STEM. Seventeen students were elected to be CSOs in Hood River and The Dalles for the 2018-2019 school year. The four students who attended the International Summit were chosen by competitive application.

During the 2018-2019 school year, the CSOs will work with faculty advisers at their schools, STEM mentors in their communities, and the Columbia Gorge STEM Hub to ignite new opportunities in STEM and innovation.

Schools in Gilliam, Hood River, Sherman, Wasco and Wheeler counties interested in participating in the Chief Science Officers program next year should contact the Columbia Gorge STEM Hub for details at www.gorgestem.org or 541-296-2046.

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