Cottonwood Canyon State Park (located along the John Day River on Highway 206 between Wasco and Condon)
Cottonwood Crossing Summer Institute (CCSI) is a week-long residential field studies program for high school students currently in grades 9-12. Participants choose from five course options where they learn about locally significant cultural or natural resources. Projects are led by EOU faculty, EOU Capstone students, and other regional professionals.
Cost to attend: $160
Students are assigned to one of the following courses. Let us know your preferences when you apply.
In the River – A Study of Macroinvertebrates and Microbes
The biology project will teach field techniques for collecting and identifying macroinvertebrates (worms, snails, insects, crustaceans, arachnids) and microscopic organisms (bacteria, diatoms, ciliates, rotifers, tardigrades) in the swift and slack waters of the John Day River. The John Day River is undammed along its entire length making it the third longest free-flowing river in the 48 contiguous states of the USA. It provides irrigation for people in the watershed and habitat for diverse species of wildlife.
Instructor: Joe Corsini is a professor of Biology at Eastern Oregon University. He has a Ph.D in Microbiology with an emphasis in Virology and has taught biology at all levels for 16 years. His current research projects include a study of the diatoms at Hot Lake in Union County and DNA studies of relationships between Western Painted Turtle populations.
Writing with Images – Writing in the Wilderness
The writing project asks students to examine the landscape, ecosystems, history, culture and region through reading, discussion, and engagement to then produce creative writing that offers a narrative of this wilderness of the John Day River. Students will have the opportunity to conduct field research through observation, embark on a variety of outdoor activities, and engage in interaction across this landscape at both the collaborative and individual levels. This includes the chance to pursue interdisciplinary work with photography, video and other creative mediums depending on the interest for the larger cumulative project each student chooses to focus on.
Instructor: James Stolen is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Writing at Eastern Oregon University. He is an avid explorer and hiker, and centers much of his fiction, essays and poetry on the landscape of the American West. He received a BA from Carleton College and MFA at Virginia Tech.
Renewable Energy Design – Engineering Solar Solutions
The energy project plans a solution to a real-world problem from start to finish using renewable energy technology to meet today’s needs. They design and build solutions to answer questions such as how to charge personal devices or collect data with electronics when you are off the grid. The project runs through the phases of design, fabrication, and marketing of the apparatus. Experience with building is appreciated but not required. Students will receive on-the-job training in all aspects of the project fabrication.
Instructor: Alan Cunningham is a Career Technical Education teacher at Arlington High School with 27 years of experience teaching science and CTE courses. He has developed individual programs of study in CTE strands varying from Cosmetology to Natural Resources.
Human Physiology and the Environment – Outdoor Fitness
This project looks at how our bodies respond to the environment. Students collect data from themselves to learn about the body’s response to heat, exercise, food, and other activities that are common in the outdoor environment. Get ready to run, swim, sweat and have a lot of fun!
Instructors: EOU Capstone students lead this course guided by Professor Kyle Pfaffenbach from the EOU Physical Activity and Health Department. Dr. Pfaffenbach has a Ph.D in Nutrition and undergraduate and master’s degrees in Exercise Science from Colorado State University. He also completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Cancer Metabolism at USC Medical School.
On the Land – A Study of Botany
The botany project will cover topics relevant to botanical fieldwork, plant ecology, and vegetation monitoring. Work will include identifying plants, capturing data on vegetation composition, assessing vegetation succession, and use of field-collected data to produce maps and descriptive summaries of findings.
Instructor: To be announced
All camp participants will take a journey on the John Day River. We’ll join the river on rafts and inflatable kayaks to enjoy a slow 10-mile float from the park.
Instructor: Michael Hatch is the Outdoor Adventure Program Coordinator and an Instructor of Physical Education and Health for EOU. A native of Boise, Idaho, Michael received a BS in Resource Conservation and Wilderness Studies from the University of Montana in Missoula. He has certifications as a Wilderness First Responder, AIARE Level 3, Swiftwater Rescue Technician (SRT1), and is a Leave No Trace Master Educator.
Members of the community and families are invited to attend the project presentations on Friday at 10am. You will be amazed at what our young people can do!
The videos and images below are representative of a variety of student projects from 2015 and 2017. Both videos were created by students in the Writing with Images series. Bringing Back Bighorns was a 2017 Oral History project. The Weed Transect video was created by students to describe what students in the Botany project were studying in 2015. The images at the far right show picnic table designs created in 2017 to provide solar charging stations at camp sites. For an overview of the week in 2018, see the video at the bottom of the page!
Teachers who attend CCSI will observe students as they learn current field research techniques from professionals, collect and analyze data, and apply their learning to real projects. They will see first-hand how students respond to the high-level challenges presented in CCSI courses and have time to collaborate with other teachers to develop project-based lessons for their own classroom that meet Oregon education standards. See the section titled “What do students do at CCSI?” to get an idea of the research and projects that will be happening this year.
Instructor: Julie Keniry has a Master’s in Teacher Education and has led teacher workshops in both Math and STEM methods. Julie began her career with a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from University of Idaho and spent 10 years working in fisheries as both a field biologist and a microbiologist doing laboratory research and disease diagnostics before teaching math and science at a rural Oregon high school.
Credit: 1 or 2 graduate level credits
Cost: $100 or $200 depending on number of credits selected
Stipend: A $500 stipend is available for the first five participants enrolled (must attend the full week)
How to Apply: Contact Julie Keniry with questions, email@example.com or 541-962-3012
Most of the institute will be spent outdoors so participants should bring appropriate clothing and gear. A list of essentials is provided below as helpful suggestions. The weather tends to be hot and sunny. Be prepared for wind, dust and cheatgrass.
What you NEED to bring:
We will have a solar shower to use. Our main bathroom facilities have running water but no shower facilities.
All regular meals are provided as well as some snacks. Please be sure to have a refillable water bottle or camelback to use during the day. You may also bring additional snacks.
Optional things to bring
You can bring your cellular devices but note that there is no service. It might be smart to store them in a ziplock bag when you are not using them because there is lots of dust.
When you have completed your application to attend, you will be directed to visit our forms page for additional information and requested materials.
For additional question or for more program information please contact:
College of STMHS