Cottonwood Crossing Summer Institute

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June 13-18, 2021 – Yes, it’s happening!

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 three 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. Students earn 2 early-college credits through Eastern Promise.

Cost to attend: $350 (scholarships are available – see the link on the “Forms” page)

When filling in the application, be sure to select Cottonwood Crossing from the list. Once selected you will be asked which project you want to do.

Make lifelong friends – Float the John Day River – Learn how to study our natural resources and local heritage – Produce media that will be shared by Oregon State Parks

2021 Projects for Students

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 will introduce students to the landscape, ecosystems, history, culture and region through reading, discussion, and engagement in order to produce creative writing that offers new and original narratives about this wilderness along the John Day River. Students will have the opportunity to conduct field research through observation, embark on a variety of outdoor activities, and engage as a group as we study and write about this landscape. This includes the chance to pursue interdisciplinary work with photography, video and other creative mediums depending on the interest for the larger cumulative creative writing project each student chooses to focus on.

Instructor: James Stolen is currently a Senior Instructor II 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 30 years of experience teaching science and CTE courses. He has developed individual programs of study in CTE strands varying from Cosmetology to Natural Resources.

Outdoor Recreation

DUE to COVID we will not be able to have our usual river day but another adventure is being planned!

River Day!
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.

Final Presentation Day

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!

Samples of Previous Student Work

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!

Solar Picnic Table

This option is currently not available but check back next year – we are planning a new opportunity for 2022!

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, 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:

  • Tent (personal tent – low profile is best in case of wind – and tent stakes)
  • Sleeping bag, pillow and sleeping pad or cot
  • Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair ties etc (We do not supply them for you)
  • Towels (for bathing and swimming)
  • Long pants
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts or tank tops
  • Long sleeve shirts or sweatshirts
  • Socks (for hiking)
  • Underwear
  • Swim suit
  • Leather hiking boots or tennis shoes
  • Shower shoes (flip flops)
  • Sleepwear
  • Jacket and warm hat (for rain or cool evenings)
  • Sun hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle
  • Notebook
  • Pencil/pen
  • Flash drive
  • Folding chair
  • Flashlight or headlamp and batteries
  • Personal medications (Epinephrine pen (if needed), Ibuprofen, or other)

Bathroom facilities
Our main bathroom facilities have running water and showers.

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

  • Water shoes (recommended for rafting)
  • Personal flotation device for swimming and rafting (we do supply them, but you can bring one you are comfortable with)
  • Small backpack
  • Chapstick
  • Camera
  • Bug spray
  • Sunglasses
  • Fishing gear and license
  • Work gloves
  • Games for the evening (cards, frisbee, balls or other portable games that can survive dust and dirt)
  • Musical instrument
  • Personal snacks
  • Lotion
  • Razor
  • Headphones

Cell service
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 by our staff to visit the forms page. This page contains links to signed documents that are required to attend as well as to the EOU Eastern Promise Application and our Scholarship Application.

View All Forms




Cottonwood Crossing 2019

For additional questions or for more program information please contact:

Julie Keniry
Website coming soon! Rural Engagement & Vitality Center