Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Plugged In: Engineering the Next Generation of Scientists

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Lineman David Evans, left, helps sixth-graders at Philomath Middle School understand the science behind  electromagnetism. Photo by Thomas Elzinga

Lineman David Evans, left, helps sixth-graders at Philomath Middle School understand the science behind electromagnetism. Photo by Thomas Elzinga

By Jennifer Brown

Walk into an elementary school classroom, and you might hear the following: “Science is boring. What is engineering? Will I ever use this again in real life?”

Every school year, electric utilities help students understand the importance of STEM education: science, technology, engineering and math.

Lassen Municipal Utility District in Susanville, California, is well-rounded example of what a utility can offer its community. Starting with a high-voltage safety demonstration for young students and leading up to scholarships for high school students pursuing a utility industry-related career, Lassen reaches out to students of all ages.

Lassen MUD strives to be an integral part of the community we serve,” says Energy Services Manager Theresa Phillips. “The utility can provide the students with a unique insight. We plant the seeds of not just safety, but conservation, sustainability, community pride and the importance of continuing education.”

Lassen also co-sponsors the Redding Regional Science Bowl.

“We sponsor a team of local high school students so that they can attend and compete without any expense to the students, parents or school,” Phillips says.

One source of classroom education is the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency based in the Pacific Northwest. Although BPA’s main function is to market wholesale electric power, the agency promotes energy efficiency, renewable resources and new technologies.

One way BPA supports students is by visiting local schools. Employee volunteers make classroom presentations to help teachers talk to their students about STEM subjects and energy in the Northwest.

“We need more students interested in these subjects to ensure that we have engineers, scientists and technicians to tackle the energy needs of the coming century,” says BPA Education and Volunteer Coordinator Christy Adams.

“We also know that these encounters can literally change the trajectory of a student’s life. It can show kids that science is fun, they can do math, and a person who looks like them has succeeded in building a career in that field.”

BPA offers presentations on how to build a motor, how to build a turbine, gravity and problem solving, and how to build a tower.

“Each one focuses on showing students the engineering method: Define the problem, develop a solution, test it and refine it,” Adams says.

Although classroom presentations are available only to schools in the BPA service territory, videos that show how to do the activities can be viewed online by anyone. Instructions for each experiment are downloadable.

BPA’s education program also includes a regional science bowl competition, and science and energy education grants.

Consumers Power Inc. in Philomath, Oregon, has supported classroom education for many years. Last year, the utility took the BPA program to the sixth-grade class at Philomath Middle School. The students learned about electromagnets and created rudimentary magnets.

“The students and teachers have very much appreciated the additional learning about how power is created in the area, along with the fun hands-on activity,” says CPI Energy Services Representative Thomas Elzinga.

The utility also offers electrical safety demonstrations to schools, rescue workers and other community organizations.

“We always try to provide added value to our members and keep our community up-to-date on staying with the marketplace on engineering and technology,” Elzinga says.

BPA also receives positive feedback.

“The teachers know the value for the kids to hear about future career options, and they appreciate the excitement that our hands-on activities generate,” Adams says. “We hear stories all the time from our own employees about how they chose their career based on meeting an engineer or scientist who made the work seem fun and approachable.”

 

The Great Marble Drop

Photo courtesy of the Bonneville Power Administration

Photo courtesy of the Bonneville Power Administration

Teachers can use this experiment to help their students analyze a problem and then test and refine solutions. This work demonstrates a key skill needed in engineering and scientific disciplines.

Supplies

  • 1 Dixie cup
  • 1 marble
  • 4-foot length of fishing line or fine string
  • 1 roll of masking tape
  • 4 index cards
  • 12 paper clips
  • 1 paper bull’s-eye target

Instructions

  • 1. Ask students to form teams.
  • 2. Distribute materials to each team.
  • 3. Teams tape the string to the wall, then to a lower point so it forms an incline. They can use a desk or chair back.
  • 4. Set the bull’s-eye paper target on the floor about halfway between the wall and the chair.
  • 5. Challenge the teams to come up with a way to transport the marble from the top point of the string and have it drop so it hits the target.
  • 6. Circulate around the room, giving hints if needed. They may ask about different ways they can proceed. You may make up your own “rules” depending on the age of the kids. The objective is simply to engage them in an engineering problem-solving exercise.
  • 7. When there are about 10 minutes left, ask each team to present its results. The other teams may move around the room to see what their classmates did. Tell them that this is what scientists do at a conference: They get together to share what they have learned and compare results.

September Story & Photo of the Month

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

 

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Photographing a Hero

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
David LaBelle interviewed and photographed 96-year-old Bobby Doerr—the oldest living member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame—in June 2014. Photo by David LaBelle

David LaBelle interviewed and photographed 96-year-old Bobby Doerr—the oldest living member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame—in June 2014.
Photo by David LaBelle

Most of us have heroes—people we admire and sometimes even seek to imitate. I have a few, most from a time long before I was born, but occasionally I discover a contemporary whose courage or character beckons me to learn more about them.

Three years ago, while reading “The Teammates” by the late David Halberstam, I was introduced to Robert Pershing “Bobby” Doerr, a Hall of Fame second baseman who played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox. A quiet leader on and off the field, his role-model character seemed too good to be true. Of the many people Halberstam immortalized with his writing, perhaps none was dearer to his heart than Bobby Doerr.

The more I read about the man, the more I hungered to meet him, and I wondered if he was still alive.

Thankfully, he was.

I wrote to Doerr, hoping for—but not really expecting—a reply to my request for a visit and interview in Oregon. To my surprise, within a week or so I received a handwritten note and a signed Hall of Fame card from the famous ballplayer. He apologized for having to decline my request and explained that his beloved sister, Dorothy, had just died. Since he had been living with his sister, he felt unsure of what the future held for him.

I was stunned and impressed that he wrote back to me, especially during a time of grief and uncertainty. This guy is too good to be true, I thought to myself.

While in Oregon this past summer, I decided to see if I could locate Doerr. I arrived in Portland late, but before dawn the next morning I began an Internet search, hoping to locate baseball’s oldest living Hall of Famer.

I was greeted immediately with the headline: Bobby Doerr dead at 96.

My heart dropped.

Not again, I thought. I had waited too long.

In past years, I have planned interviews and photo shoots with famous people, and they died before I could meet them.

I called my wife, almost in tears, sharing what I had learned. I told her I was going to drive to the small town where Doerr last lived and see if I could interview people who knew him.

As I pulled into town heavy hearted, I was surprised to find no signs honoring the famous ballplayer. In fact, there was no visible evidence of his passing. No farewell messages. No flowers at the ballpark bearing his name. Nothing.

Bewildered, I spotted a mailman and asked him if he knew where Doerr had last lived. At first he didn’t recognize the name.

“The Hall of Fame baseball player,” I said. “I know he lived in town or near here for many years.”

Busily sorting mail while walking his route, he stopped and said, “five on six,” then ducked into a building to deliver mail.

Five on six?

I looked up at the street signs and realized it might be some sort of code, so I indulged my hunch and followed the street I was on. Across the railroad tracks and at the end of the road, I found a beautiful retirement and assisted-living complex.

I went inside with camera and notebook, introduced myself and said I had just read that Bobby Doerr had passed. I expressed my condolences and asked if I could talk to somebody who knew the ballplayer.

They looked at me as if I was an alien from another planet.

“I just had breakfast with him,” quipped a caregiver.

An assistant quickly called for an aide and whispered something to him. The man nodded.

I told them about the website, and they called it up. Sure enough, it proclaimed Doerr dead and even had a quote from someone speaking about the beloved player.
A prank, a cruel hoax for sure.

By midday, I was finally able to meet and interview the baseball legend I so admired.

Sometimes the stars seem to align and you find yourself in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. This was one such time.

 

daveDavid LaBelle is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.

Quiet: Learning Zone

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
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Good homework habits start with a quiet, functional study area. Photo courtesy of Creators.com

Study habits improve with the right kind of environment

By Sharon Naylor

These days, children of all ages are assigned homework, and parents certainly want to help make every homework session as productive as possible. Achieving that goal often begins with creating a designated homework area.

In a recent study conducted by Houzz, a home decorating and design website, 52 percent of respondents reported the designated homework area in their house is either the kitchen or dining room table. Asked why, parents overwhelmingly said, “To keep an eye on progress.”

Houzz experts maintain that in addition to parental supervision, creating the right study space not only will help kids get their homework done, but also can help them learn more effectively.

The study notes 13 percent of parents report their kids’ preferred homework spot is sprawled on the couch or family room floor, which isn’t the best homework environment.

Education experts suggest the most important elements of a successful homework space are comfortable seating, an adequate work surface, a place to store materials and a distraction-free area.

Distractions are the real culprit. If kids can see the television from the dining room table—which often occurs in homes with an open layout—they will be distracted by whatever is on the screen. They may not watch the programming, but even the sounds emanating from the TV can prevent them from focusing fully on their homework assignments or reading.

To create an efficient homework station, follow these easy tips:

  • Choose the perfect homework spot. It might be a desk in the child’s bedroom or a kid-sized desk in your home office—a station set up specifically for homework—with everything the child needs in easy reach. Keep school supplies in desk drawers, so children don’t have to get up to search for them.
  • Ensure privacy. Make it a rule that kids are not to be interrupted when they are at their homework spots. Questions and requests to play can wait until after they have finished their homework.
  • Designate a specific time span. Hang a sign on or beside the homework area door indicating when the session will end.
  • Decide whether kids should do homework alone or together. If kids can’t share a space without distracting one another, set up homework stations for each child in different rooms. Divide all necessary supplies, so kids have everything they need at their respective desks or homework caddies.
  • Think about comfort. A chair with a cushion can make it easy for kids to stay still and focus on intensive homework, such as math and writing. A comfy, overstuffed chair may be more conducive to reading. Houzz experts say a reading chair outside of the designated study area also provides a welcome change of scenery for kids.
  • Keep computers out in the open. Positioning a computer so the screen is visible to you keeps kids on task and discourages them from Internet browsing or messaging with friends.
  • Make it easy for kids to be organized. Efficiency is improved when kids have a designated spot for their backpacks and an inbox for important papers that need to be signed by you. The Houzz experts also recommend a bulletin board for tacking up important papers, and allowing kids to decorate their boards with inspiring photos and quotes. Storage bins and inexpensive plastic tubs keep kids’ supplies orderly, and a label-maker lets kids personalize their storage containers.
  • Involve kids in decorating their homework areas. When kids have a say in choosing the color and pattern of their desk chair cushion, their computer skin and other elements of their homework station, they have a sense of ownership in the space and are more likely to spend time there. Encourage kids to express their personalities in their homework spaces with approved decor items.
  • Add a personal touch of your own. Every now and then, leave a note on your child’s desk expressing how proud you are of him or her. These handwritten notes are meaningful to kids.

A few last thoughts: If your child already has a homework spot, assess it for distractions. You might want to set a rule about no cell phones in the workspace, or tell your child to declutter the space for easier working conditions.

With a personalized and organized homework spot, children can complete their homework with greater ease, focus and learning.

© Creators.com

Treasures on the Bookshelf

Photo courtesy of Creators.com

Photo courtesy of Creators.com

By Sharon Naylor

There may be gold on your bookshelves and you might not even know it, especially if you inherited the books. For example, an 1831 copy of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” in fair or better condition with illustrations, is worth between $10,000 and $15,000.

Antiquarian booksellers are always on the lookout for rare books. First editions and notable titles are especially in demand. Dealers may pay several hundred to several thousand dollars for a book that has been on your bookshelf for years. Even more recent and lesser-known titles can be valuable.

Condition is a key factor for determing a book’s value. To garner top dollar, a book must be in like-new, fine or near-fine condition. In addition to no obvious damage, a book in this condition has no yellowing from age, no odors, no mildew, no water damage, and contains no writing or bookplates.

You may be looking at your bookshelves and wondering whether you have valuable books in your collection. Why not search your books for first editions, special collector’s editions and any books for which you think there may be potential value? If you are allergic to dust, you might want to put on a protective mask so this treasure hunt doesn’t leave you stuffy and sneezing.

Next, start the fun project of researching estimated values. Esther Lombardi, About.com guide to classic literature, suggests the following websites: www.bookfinder.com and www.abebooks.com. Type in your book titles. Those sites will show you current asking prices for those titles if they have them in their system.

Write down the values you find, but don’t get too excited yet. Book buyers at indie stores and antiquarian booksellers likely will pay a bit less so they can make a profit. Still, it can be very exciting to see hundreds of dollars next to some of the books you own.

If you find rare books in your collection, go to a book appraiser who can evaluate the condition of your books, look up values and tell you about market trends. Find an appraiser through the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America at www.abaa.org or www.booksappraised.com.

Ask your local librarian for suggestions as well. They know the best local appraisers and can direct you.

Hunting and Fishing For Bargains

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
It’s not uncommon to find vintage fishing gear such as this at garage sales and thrift stores. More likely, though, you will encounter newer items, often in lightly used or even new condition. No matter what type of outdoor gear you are looking for, don’t overlook nontraditional sources such as garage sales and thrift stores. Photo by Joe Dixon

It’s not uncommon to find vintage fishing gear such as this at garage sales and thrift stores. More likely, though, you will encounter newer items, often in lightly used or even new condition. No matter what type of outdoor gear you are looking for, don’t overlook nontraditional sources such as garage sales and thrift stores.
Photo by Joe Dixon

Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s and REI may be the stores of choice for many outdoor enthusiasts, but thrift stores and garage sales are where it’s at when it comes to bagging bargains.

Almost any type of outdoor gear can be found at these nontraditional outlets. Often, it is in lightly used or even new condition.

This shopping alternative is especially attractive for outfitting youngsters or fair-weather sportsmen, when you don’t want to pay full retail. It is also a good way to find equipment to use for spare parts for your existing gear.

One strategy is to shop where the activities occur.
For example, if you are looking for bicycling gear, seek out garage sales or thrift stores in communities known for their biking. If you are looking for saltwater fishing rods and tackle, head for the coast.

One word of caution: Buyers beware, especially when shopping for expensive or potentially hazardous equipment, such as used boats, ATVs, gas cookstoves, heaters or lanterns. Whenever possible, take along a knowledgeable friend if you lack the necessary expertise. If you plan to go it alone, do your homework before you hit the sales.

Tips for Good, Clean Fun

  • Disposable alcohol wipes are great for removing the gunk and grime that inevitably accumulates on the handles of fishing rods. Any brand will do.
  • Spray furniture polish works wonders on boats. Use it to quickly protect your boat’s finish and leave it looking like new again.
  • Use a dab of wet Irish Spring soap to stop the itch of insect bites. When it dries, it leaves the affected skin numb.

Outdoors 101: Binoculars
Every pair of binoculars is described by a set of numbers that looks like a multiplication problem, such as 7×35, 8×40 or 10×50. But what do they really mean?

The first number indicates the magnification power of the binoculars. For example, if the first number is an 8, it means the binoculars magnify images eight times the size of what your eyes see without magnification.

The second number refers to the diameter of the objective lens. The bigger the objective lens, the more light that can pass through the optics of the binoculars and the brighter images will appear. That’s important in low-light situations.

Nature’s Fireworks
There is nothing quite like the natural light show of a meteor shower. The meteor shower activity known as Orionids is active from October 4 to November 14 this year, with the peak estimated to be October 21-22. These are medium-strength showers that sometimes exhibit high-strength activity.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication in Ruralite magazine, we will send you $25 for one-time use. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to moc.etilarurnull@ofni.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

A Place to Honor

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
Gwin and Bill Stam’s memorial features many elements, including statues, teepees, flags and stone tablets with the names of Native American veterans. But the Stams are not finished yet.

Gwin and Bill Stam’s memorial features many elements, including statues, teepees, flags and stone tablets with the names of Native American veterans. But the Stams are not finished yet.

An Oregon couple creates a memorial dedicated to Native American veterans

By David LaBelle

“It’s just something that had to be done,” insists 79-year-old Bill Stam, referring to the All Nations Native American Veterans Memorial he and his wife, Gwin, 75, are building on their 5-acre property near Jefferson, Oregon.

The only one of its kind in the world, the memorial now houses a 14-foot-tall, 3,000-pound fiberglass statue of a Plains Indian chasing a buffalo, an elk statue, a trading post, four teepees, eight colorful tribal flags and five stones with hundreds of names of Indian veterans etched in them, including the Code Talkers of World War I and World War II.

“This is the only memorial in the whole Unites States that we are aware of that is dedicated to all nations, all veterans of all wars,” says Bill, a Navy and Air Force veteran with 24 years of military service, including during the Vietnam War. “We have Civil War veterans—Native Americans that fought for the South and North. We have Congressional Medal of Honor winners.”

The memorial had a rather inauspicious beginning when Bill and a friend attended a powwow in Arlee, Montana. During the trip, they saw and admired a striking statue of an Indian hunting buffalo. While taking pictures of the statue, Bill’s friend jokingly said, “Boy, that would sure look good in your yard.”

A for-sale sign was posted on the back of the statue. The creative wheels quickly began to turn in Bill’s head. He returned home with pictures for Gwin, hoping she would share his vision.

Gwin remembers looking at the picture and telling Bill, “This should be a Native American Memorial. That is what it was meant to be.”
Bill bought the statue in the nick of time, only a day before it went up for sale on the Internet.

“I knew if it went on the Internet, I would never, ever be able get it,” Bill says.
Bill was soon back on the freeway to Montana with a trailer and winch, on a 1,200-mile round trip to pick up the centerpiece for their new memorial.

“I probably had 500 people take pictures,” remembers Bill. “Every time we stopped at a gas station curious people gathered around with questions.

“We even had police officers drive by, slow down, roll down the window and take pictures.”

The memorial evokes strong emotions and has become a place of healing.

“Some people come and do nothing but stand up here and pray at the memorial,” Bill says. “I had a guy come here and all he wanted to do is play a flute. He was here a couple of hours just playing the flute. It’s really a spiritual thing.”

Both Bill and Gwin have Indian blood running through their veins: Bill is Lakota, Gwin is Apache. Both are horse lovers and artists, too, and share a passion to grow the memorial and see it last long after they are gone.

“It has come a long way in less than two years,” Gwin says, her eyes widening with satisfaction. “It would be nice if it just keeps growing.”
“Both our families think we are nuts,” Bill says, laughing. “But it’s here to stay. We have a great board of directors set up so that when Gwin and I are gone, the memorial will continue.”

The centerpiece of the memorial is this 14-foot-tall, 3,000-pound statue of a Plains Indian chasing a buffalo.

The centerpiece of the memorial is this 14-foot-tall, 3,000-pound statue of a Plains Indian chasing a buffalo.

But for Bill, the work is not done. The man who once walked the entire 312 miles of the Oregon Trail of Tears in moccasins at the age of 73, has one more great mission he hopes to accomplish: Get all of the names of the Code Talkers, including all of the Alamo Scouts, on the memorial before he leaves this life.

“We have started on World War II,” says Bill. “I have over 450 more to put on. We will be the only memorial in the whole United States that recognizes all 34 nations of Code Talkers by name.”

When he finishes, he believes he will have the names of 600 to 700 Code Talkers.
“And nobody has ever honored the Alamo Scouts,” he says. “It has really become quite an educational thing for me.”

Bill admits he knew little about the Alamo Scouts before he started the memorial.
“None of the nations even knew anything about them,” Bill says. “They were set up by General McArthur. He didn’t trust the powers of the United States or the chief of staff, so he set up this unit secretly.”

There were 20 nations of Code Talkers in the Alamo Scouts, 132 scouts in all.

“The Alamo Scouts fought in the Philippines,” Bill says. “No one was even aware they fought in the Pacific theater. They only knew the Navajos did.”

Bill hopes to have 34 flags at the memorial, one for every nation of Code Talkers, and there will be a special rock for the Alamo Scouts.

“It’s become, I guess you would call it, a passion now,” he says. “I pray to the Creator every morning to let me live long enough to finish my Code Talkers. We can’t do anything without the Creator. He’s the one that put it all here for us.”

The memorial, located past the old Jefferson Cemetery on Cemetery Hill Road, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For more information, call (541) 915-1558.

 

A Nose for ‘the Bone’

A shed hunter teaches dogs to sniff out deer, elk and moose antler sheds

By Ryan G. Hall

Chad Carter of Trout Creek, Montana, points as he encourages his Labrador retriever, Libby, to “get the bone”—a command that tells her to sniff out a deer, elk or moose antler shed.

Chad Carter of Trout Creek, Montana, points as he encourages his Labrador retriever, Libby, to “get the bone”—a command that tells her to sniff out a deer, elk or moose antler shed.

You may have heard of drug dogs, explosive-detection dogs and even dogs trained to take down criminals, but have you ever heard of an antler-

sniffing dog?

Chad Carter of Trout Creek, Montana, has trained about a dozen dogs to use their noses to find prized deer, elk and moose antler sheds.

“You can train them to key in on whatever you want,” Chad says of his antler dog breed of choice, the Labrador retriever.

Chad admits he didn’t know shed antlers had a distinctive scent until he heard about dogs being trained to find them.

“You wouldn’t think they would (have a scent),” he says.

At first, he expected his dogs to only find fresh sheds, but he soon learned antlers that had been sitting around for years—or even buried—could not hide from the dogs’ sensitive noses.

One odd thing about shed antler-trained dogs he has discovered is none of them have cared to bother antlers still attached to a skull.

“If you find a winter-kill deer, they won’t touch it,” Chad says. “If it isn’t a shed horn, they won’t pick it up. They’ll just ignore it.”

When someone doubts his dogs’ ability to find antler sheds, Chad only needs to open his front door. His home is decorated with dozens of beautiful elk and deer antlers, with a few moose antlers thrown in for good measure.

Plenty more are in storage. He originally said he would never sell a shed, but after learning that decent ones can go for $10 a pound, and “junk” ones for about $8 a pound—often to be used as chew toys for dogs—he reconsidered and sold a good portion of his lesser-quality finds.

“None of my nice ones though,” he says, with a smile. “I kept all of my nice ones.”

Though Max is now older and mostly retired from antler hunting, Chad praises the dog as being almost instinctual when it came to tracking down antlers. He walks, nose in the air, methodically covering every bit of ground. What he would come up with often shocked his handler.

Chad recalls walking on a Forest Service road one day when Max went bounding off the road, over a bank and into a big blow-down of lodgepole pines.

“Max went into it and came up with a deer antler,” Chad says.
Libby, his female black Lab, then followed and found another antler in a different area of the blow-down, while Max brought the first one he found to Chad and returned to find its match.

Another impressive find happened when Chad visited his sister and her family—who are avid antler hunters—and brought Max for the first time.

They were a bit skeptical of the dog’s ability to sniff out sheds until Max walked over to an area buried in several inches of snow and began digging. Soon, snow turned to dirt, but he continued pawing at the ground until he emerged with a funky looking deer antler that is still Chad’s favorite find.

It’s clear from the stories of his favorite finds that Chad and Max have a strong bond. They learned how to find antlers together, and Max was always excited to go shed hunting. Chad says the mere sight of camouflage clothing or a backpack used to store antlers changes Max from a mellow lap dog to a ball of energy. To this day, Max still gets excited when Chad prepares to look for sheds, but old age and an injury have effectively ended his hunting days.

“I’ve had a lot of good days with that dog,” Chad says, looking at Max as he snoozes in a sunbeam.

When Max had to retire, Chad temporarily lost a bit of his passion to find antlers.

“It was almost like he died,” Chad says of his trusty sidekick.
But time—and Libby’s emergence as a great antler dog—has healed that wound. He is back out finding sheds beside a four-legged friend, and is anxious to train a pup from Libby’s current litter to be the next heir apparent.

In fact, he can’t imagine looking for sheds without a dog—something he used to do often.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” he says. “When they do what you train them to do, that’s the most rewarding thing.”

For more information on training dogs to find antlers, or for more on Chad, go online to www.montanaantlerdogs.com.

 

A Tricycle Built for Two

10foiurthBy Dianna Troyer

Heads turn whenever Gaven Knighton and his wife, Frances, pedal their bright orange tandem tricycle on rural roads near their home in Moore, Idaho.

“People smile, honk or give thumbs up when they see us coming,” says Gaven, 67. “We let people try it out so they know how comfortable it is.”

Gaven designed the tricycle built for two from folding chairs and thrift store bicycles in 2012, the year he retired from Argonne National Laboratory-West. During the 28 years he worked there as an engineer, he won several awards for his inventions.

“I’ve always strived for simplicity in everything I designed at work and at home,” says Gaven. “When I retired, I thought it would be romantic to ride side-by-side with Frances on a bicycle,” he says.

But he disliked traditional tandem bicycles.

“We could talk easier if we were sitting beside each other instead of one of us being in front,” he says. “We’ve known each other since junior high school, and she’s still my sweetheart.”

He also found traditional bicycle seats uncomfortable.

“Folding chairs with cushions are more comfortable,” he says.

A three-wheeled vehicle would be more stable than a two-wheeled bicycle, he reasoned.

With those guidelines in mind, he fired up his welder and built a frame with cross bars to secure the chairs. Then he disassembled several used bicycles.

“The bicycle chain for each passenger has to be a lot longer than normal, so I had to buy more than one bike to get the right length.”

He geared the tricycle so each passenger can pedal separately at an individualized comfortable speed.

“Your pedaling doesn’t have to be synchronized like with a traditional tandem bicycle,” he says.

A handle bar with brakes is attached in the middle, allowing either passenger to steer.

“We can go about 15 miles an hour, 20 with a tail wind,” Frances says. “We ride in winter, too, because it’s really stable on snowy, icy roads.”

Although retired from Argonne, Gaven will never stop inventing.

“I’ve always been a hands-on guy, and if I need something, I’ll try to build it,” he says.

 

Happenings Out West Leavenworth Oktoberfest,

October 3-4, 10-11, 17-18

10fifthGrab your traditional Bavarian trachten hat, jump into your lederhosen and waltz your way to Leavenworth, Washington, for its annual Oktoberfest festivities. The event is the first three Fridays and Saturdays of October. It features live music, German food and beverages, arts and crafts, and other activities for the entire family. Organizers say Oktoberfest in Leavenworth is the next best thing to being at Munich’s world-famous celebration of the season. For more information, visit www.leavenworthoktoberfest.com.

Voice Box: A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

By Anita Decker

Anita Decker is executive director of the Northwest Public Power Association, which represents about 150 public power utilities in several Western states and Canada.

Anita Decker is executive director of the Northwest Public Power Association, which represents about 150 public power utilities in several Western states and Canada.

October is Public Power month, so I will start with a question: Do you remember when the lights came on in your community?

As we look across the West, many public power utilities are celebrating the anniversary of the day the lights first came on some 75 to 100 years ago. That is more than three generations. Can you imagine being without the conveniences electricity has brought to our lives that today we take for granted? Try charging your smart phone or computer without electricity, making your morning coffee or watching your favorite television show. That’s just the beginning.

It is easy to take electricity for granted, but it also is easy to take for granted the vision of those who dedicated themselves to bring power to small cities and rural areas. By and large, it was community leaders who understood that local decision making by community members was important to building and maintaining a reliable, low-cost source of electricity to each and every household and business.

You might ask: What is so important about public power and local decision making? Each community has its unique concerns, businesses and landscape. Local decision making is community based. Community-based decisions are founded in the fabric of a community where local members take responsibility for making decisions in the best interest of their consumers. Today, these community members show up on city councils, public utility district boards and rural electric cooperative boards. As in the past, they have a personal and deep-seated interest in providing reliable electricity and keeping your electricity rates low. On a national average, public power rates are lower than those of other utility companies because public power utilities are not-for-profit entities that put their consumers first. They set electricity rates locally and have local public meetings where no one has to shout to be heard.

One hallmark of public power is the way it strengthens the community it serves. Think about how your local public power utility serves in your community: at schools and service clubs, as parents, co-workers, customers, friends or family.

Not to be forgotten is that they are always there to quickly restore service during a power outage. Again, it is their deep-seated interest in being involved in the community they serve. With local public power, your community’s unique needs and values matter.

Today, just as it was 100 years ago, public power utilities dedicate themselves to making wise energy choices for their consumers, whether investing in renewable generation, supporting energy-efficiency programs, helping low-income people with paying their bills, offering scholarships to students, creating partnerships with schools on energy education programs or sponsoring the local soccer team every summer. Public power is vested in your community. How vested are you?

Public utilities can help with your energy decisions, from making energy-efficient choices and investments to solar installations. Your public power utility can help you make wise decisions on cost-effectiveness and safety, and provide information on local programs they may offer. They are a resource and a partner who can easily be overlooked. Public power utilities are uniquely positioned to help communities to create wise energy policies. Public utilities also create jobs in their communities, help lower everyone’s tax burden, and reinvest in local programs and services that best suit local values and needs.

October is a great time to pause when you flip on the light switch to think about the men and women who dedicated themselves generations ago to the idea of public power and brought electricity to your community, and to those today who keep the lights on and the cost low. We benefit from their dedication.

As executive director for the Northwest Public Power Association, I should note that this year marks our 75th Anniversary. Our forefathers had the vision to bring power to communities and rural areas, and had the foresight to create NWPPA, which has partnered with some 150 public power utilities to provide training, communication and government affairs support in the Northwest, Northern California, Alaska, and Canada to accomplish their mission of service to their communities.

Washington Youth Tour: A Historic Opportunity

Friday, August 29th, 2014
Washington Youth Tour delegates with the Northwest group visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Washington Youth Tour delegates with the Northwest group visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


“If one thing comes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.”

—Lyndon Baines Johnson
1957 NRECA Annual Meeting

 

By Pam Blair

The early morning excitement and noisy buzz of anticipation melts into silence as Washington Youth Tour students and chaperones join a packed crowd watching the slow, rhythmic movements of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

“People line the steps near the tomb, but the sheer silence stuns you,” says Savannah Chadwick of Uniontown, Washington, sponsored by Clearwater Power in Idaho. “Hundreds of thousands of people visit the tomb each year and still silence remains.”

In the bustling area around Washington, D.C., the quiet is eerie and deafening.

“Watching those people guard the tomb in silence, then exchanging their watch in a scripted ritual was inspiring,” says Andrew Damitio of Blodgett, Oregon, Consumers Power representative.

No one encourages the silence. It is instinctive. It is an understanding of history and place, and a show of respect for those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms Americans enjoy today.

Rachel Kloor, Oregon’s statewide director, watched students shake the hands of World War II veterans at the cemetery.

“They did this without being reminded to do so,” Rachel says. “They just knew it was the right thing to do. The students took the time to ask them questions and thank them for their service instead of rushing to the next site.”

Arlington National Cemetery is one stop in a week filled with somber, reflective moments as history comes to life for participants in the Washington Youth Tour.

“I was in awe of the thousands upon thousands of white crosses, each symbolizing a person who gave their life for their country,” says Talitha Anderson of Anderson Island, Washington, sponsored by Tanner Electric. “Each of the crosses represented a family who would remember in each generation a man or woman whose life was cut short for the sake of their country’s freedom. I have a better understanding of just what it costs to keep our country free.”

 

A Fifty-Year Tradition

Weston Wiltbank of Safford, Arizona, snaps a photo at Arlington National Cemetery. “Looking upon the rows of white headstones that seemed to stretch on for miles, I now have a greater respect for those who have fought and died to keep our great country free, and remain the greatest nation under God the world has ever known,” says Weston, who was sponsored by Graham County Electric Co-op.

Weston Wiltbank of Safford, Arizona, snaps a photo at Arlington National Cemetery. “Looking upon the rows of white headstones that seemed to stretch on for miles, I now have a greater respect for those who have fought and died to keep our great country free, and remain the greatest nation under God the world has ever known,” says Weston, who was sponsored by Graham County Electric Co-op.

More than 1,600 students from 43 states converge on the nation’s capital each June for an awe-inspiring, life-changing, physically and emotionally exhausting one-week trip known as the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Washington Youth Tour.

Participating electric cooperatives select students who have just completed their junior year of high school for the all-expense-paid trip of a lifetime.

Each state has a coordinator. States with few representatives team up—and not necessarily with a geographical neighbor. Wisconsin was part of the Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming contingent. Hawaii partners with Kansas.

Washington Youth Tour was inspired by then-Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson.

“If one thing comes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents,” the future president said in a speech at the 1957 NRECA Annual Meeting.

The idea grew. By 1964, NRECA was coordinating activities for state delegations. While much has changed during the program’s 50 years, students remain amazed, inspired, humbled and grateful.

They see the roots of American history in visits to monuments and never-ending Smithsonian museums.

They meet with their elected representatives in a real-life civics lesson.

They learn about electric cooperatives, grassroots advocacy and the importance of assuming leadership roles.

They make lifelong friends with people who were strangers the day before.

They walk miles and sleep little, packing activity into every waking hour.

“Going into the trip, I expected a whirlwind of new sights punctuated by very short periods of sleep, which is what I got,” says Marta Faulkner of Canyon City, Oregon, sponsored by Oregon Trail Electric. “Of course, I couldn’t have expected what it felt to actually see Washington, D.C., in person, but I remember thinking, ‘Geez, I’ll be tired’ when I got that itinerary. I wasn’t really until the end, though. I slept until 2:30 in the afternoon the day after I got back home.”

Fellow OTEC representative Kate Averett of Baker City, Oregon, says she was “amazed by the amount we were able to learn and fit all into one week.”

“There is not one moment that you aren’t having a blast or learning something, or seeing something exciting,” adds Michael Stephens of The Dalles, Oregon, sponsored by Wasco Electric.

An Action-Packed Schedule

Every state contingent develops its own itinerary. In addition to the national memorials, stops often include George Washington’s ancestral home of Mount Vernon, the U.S. Capitol, the Washington National Cathedral and the White House.

Devin Calley of Benson, Arizona, sponsored by Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, marvels at the architecture at the Washington National Cathedral.

Devin Calley of Benson, Arizona, sponsored by Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, marvels at the architecture at the Washington National Cathedral.

Some groups also participate in a cruise down the Potomac. All attend the U.S. Marine Corps Sunset Parade and come together for Youth Day—a time to learn about electric cooperatives and grassroots politics and hear motivational speakers.

“I was moved the most when I realized how many people actually cared about our co-ops and the future generations of America,” says Austen Schiavone of Portola, California, sponsored by Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric. “I could become an international lineman and help bring electricity to developing countries.”

The Holocaust Memorial Museum deeply affected both students and adults.

“It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen and been through,” says Riley Fite of Safford, Arizona, sponsored by Graham County Electric. “When we walked through the room full of shoes my stomach turned. It really put things into perspective that we have life pretty nice here in our little town where we don’t have to worry if we are going to be killed each day. Even though we went throughout the sad memorials and museums, the tour gave us a sense of national pride and made us glad to be Americans.”

Lindsay Noggles of Janesville, California, sponsored by PSREC, thought of her grandfather, who served in World War II.

“It was very emotional for me to think about how he risked his life to help save those in need,” Lindsay says.

Amanda Tran of Sierra Vista, Arizona, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric representative, was moved by the story another visitor told her of leaving the Netherlands right before the deportations began.

“What an emotional experience,” says Monica Castillo, a chaperone for Trico Electric in Arizona. “The trip made me truly understand and completely admire and respect all the brave individuals. You have to be there and witness it to genuinely take it all in.”

Overton Power District No. 5 representative Victoria Magoon of Bunkerville, Nevada, says she will never forget a quote she heard at the Air Force Memorial: “All gave some, but some gave all.”

“My thoughts kept coming back to this quote every time we visited a monument,” says Victoria. “How truly blessed we are to live in a free country.”

The Pentagon/Flight 93 Memorial stood out for Thad Ballard, a chaperone for Wells Rural Electric Co. in Nevada.

“All of the other memorials commemorate people or events that happened before I was born,” Thad says. “This memorial recognizes an event that happened in my lifetime. The structure of the memorial is also very personal because you aren’t just looking at it, you are in it.”

At the Vietnam Memorial, he found the name of a man from his hometown. He died the day Thad was born.

“I was reminded that this country is founded on rock-solid principles and that there have been enormous sacrifices made that bless our lives still,” Thad says.

Oregon delegates, from left, Jeremiah Petzoldt, Tom Gould, Kate Averett and Michael Stephens at the Lincoln Memorial.

Oregon delegates, from left, Jeremiah Petzoldt, Tom Gould, Kate Averett and Michael Stephens at the Lincoln Memorial.


Lifelong Relationships

The trip was about much more than sightseeing and patriotism. It also was about building relationships and developing the next generation of leaders.

“The entire trip moved me, but the other students moved me the most,” says Caylin Tibbetts of San Simon, Arizona, sponsored by SSVEC. “They helped me understand that it’s OK to be yourself.

“I was also moved by the fact that one person can make a big difference. It showed me to never give up, that I may one day be able to change hundreds of lives. It was a trip of a lifetime. I made friends and memories I will never forget.”

Ashley Standridge of Roseburg, Oregon, sponsored by Douglas Electric, was touched by everyone’s genuineness.

“It’s a rare quality to find in people,” she says. “I made friends from 43 states.”

While everyone came from different backgrounds and different cultures, “our personalities and drive for success made us fit together like a big family,” says Savannah Chadwick.

NaRayah Runyon of Elfrida, Arizona, sponsored by SSVEC, says she was told the trip would change her.

“I was told that I would bond with the people on the trip to such an extent that I would cry when it was time to go home, but I didn’t believe it,” she says. “I expected to learn more on the trip than I would in a whole semester of school and experience the history and politics of our country firsthand, and I expected to make friends. I did learn more about our nation in one week than I thought was possible and made amazing friends. But I was wrong. I did cry, and I was changed.”

 

A Lasting Impression

For many students, the trip provided a fresh perspective of themselves, their country and, in some cases, their futures.

“The Youth Tour program is such a spectacular opportunity to acquaint rural kids with the sights and sounds of one of our most important cities,” says Marta Faulkner. “I’ve grown up seeing pictures and stories about the many landmarks in D.C. that really stand for our nation, but seeing them was a whole other story.

“You can’t understand how the Washington Monument seems to loom over the whole city, wherever you are, or how big and grand the Potomac is, or how hauntingly the rows upon rows of marble tombstones in Arlington protrude from the earth like teeth until you’ve seen it all. It’s just so different in real life.”

Tom Gould of Heppner, Oregon, sponsored by Columbia Basin Electric, says he will never forget the “once-in-a-lifetime experience. All of the artifacts were amazing to finally see in real person and not just on TV.”
Weston Wiltbank changed the way he views the goings-on in the nation’s capital.

“When we think of Washington we often think of a bunch of politicians running around in suits and ties telling the rest of the nation what to do, but it is a lot more than that,” he says. “One truth I’ve come to respect a lot is that this nation was built by the hands of hardworking people who had a dream to create the greatest nation in the world.”

Savannah Chadwick gained a better understanding of American politics, and “I learned about religion, culture, our nation and, above all, the importance of American pride. This opportunity has given me hope that one day I will be able to make a positive difference in our nation.”

Lindy Lunt says she now realizes the difference one person can make.

“Even though we live in a small town out in the middle of nowhere, it’s nice to know that we still have the power to make a difference and create change,” she says.

Ashley Standridge says the trip “changed my heart and mind how so many people have sacrificed so much for our country, and it changed my future, to motivate me to look more into my future then to wait for it to come.”

Marta Faulkner advises future students to “take their time. If you spend your time being in a hurry you won’t see anything. Don’t be afraid to just take a moment and look and listen and let Washington, D.C., swallow you up for a moment and think, ‘Wow, I’m actually here.’ Because if you take a moment to just breathe it all in, there are a lot more people standing next to you than just the tourists.”

 

Profound Impact of Youth Tour

Lindy Lunt

Lindy Lunt

By Lindy Lunt

When I found out that I had been selected as a recipient for the Youth Tour trip to Washington, D.C., I was elated at the chance to see all that D.C. had to offer. However, I never anticipated the profound impact it would have on my life.

I remember the very first day when we stopped at Fort McHenry. I was expecting to look around, take a few pictures and then skedaddle off to the next site. Instead, I had the opportunity to watch a video that briefly went over the battle that led to Francis Scott Key writing the “Star Spangled Banner,” and at the end of the video they raised the wall up to give us a spectacular view of the flag flying gently in the breeze.

It was then that it hit me. I always knew that people gave their lives for our freedom, but it had never been as real as it was at that moment. As I struggled to keep my emotions in check, I realized how incredibly lucky I was to be born in this great nation.

This was the moment that changed me and how I viewed this trip. It was more than just a chance to look at some cool buildings and get out of the Arizona heat; it was a chance to recognize the blood, sweat and tears that went into making this country what it is today. I had been gifted the chance of a lifetime, and I was determined to make the most of it.

Everywhere we traveled seemed to reinforce these feelings of patriotism. We were able to visit sites such as Mount Vernon, Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian museums and so many more. With each visit I could feel my pride for our country continue to grow, and by the end of the trip not only did I have many new friends and memories, but a newfound appreciation for my country.

I truly understood what it meant to be proud to be an American, and that is something I will never forget.

Lindy Lunt of Pima, Arizona, was sponsored by Graham County Electric Cooperative.

 

Seeing Beauty in the Commonplace

Friday, August 29th, 2014
There is a certain beauty in the commonplace, even in death. The lifeless body of a pigeon struck by a vehicle lies peacefully on the roadside. Its body position and color create a quiet and beautiful, natural arrangement. Photo by David LaBelle

There is a certain beauty in the commonplace, even in death. The lifeless body of a pigeon struck by a vehicle lies peacefully on the roadside. Its body position and color create a quiet and beautiful, natural arrangement.
Photo by David LaBelle

As a child, I loved going with my father to junkyards and the county dump. I would climb over the twisted metal bodies of crashed cars, foraging for treasures. I always found some little piece of something shiny that had no value to anyone except me.

For a while, I was fascinated with the tiny squares of broken glass from shattered windshields. I pretended they were diamonds and filled my pockets with them.

That curiosity, that fascination with treasures others discard, has never left me. Now, instead of filling my pockets with pieces of glass or metal, I fill my viewfinder with pictures of relationships and things others pass by blindly or discard as worthless.

We can learn much by sitting quietly and watching the natural world. Nothing is wasted in God’s great creation. Swallows and purple Martins scoop little mud balls with their beaks and engineer nests capable of clinging to cement or metal bridges and keep their families safe from weather and predators. Other birds gather discarded pieces of string—even the hair from horses and cows—to weave warm cradles that incubate their offspring. Yet it seems we humans need “new” things to make us happy.

Like the birds, artists often collect discarded bits of life to craft pictures and weave stories. They find beauty in the commonplace. As is often said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

For the most part, I think photographers and artists have an inherent need to create, arrange and give order to visual clutter. Like dogs bred to herd animals, it is their nature.

Beauty is present everywhere, even in tragedy. There are diamonds to be found in the most unlikely places if we look for them.

But learning to see beauty in the trash heaps of life is an acquired skill. It requires slowing down and listening to life with our eyes and our heart.

Take a slow walk with your camera. Look up. Look down. Look all around. Train your eyes to see the beauty others—racing through life—pass by. You may discover that a fallen leaf, snow-covered seed pods, peeling paint or a subtle, comforting touch is a treasure to your soul.

That evil exists is evident. But good and beauty also abound.

David LaBelledave is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.

Strategies for Finding Big Bucks

Friday, August 29th, 2014
Deer eat a variety of plants, but they prefer the tender growing tips of trees and shrubs. Their digestive system includes four stomach compartments like that of other ruminating mammals, such as cows, goats, llamas and sheep. Photo by Frank Hildebrand

Deer eat a variety of plants, but they prefer the tender growing tips of trees and shrubs. Their digestive system includes four stomach compartments like that of other ruminating mammals, such as cows, goats, llamas and sheep.
Photo by Frank Hildebrand

Every hunter in search of a big buck understands the importance of knowing where they live, avoiding crowds and quelling the urge to shoot the first buck they see. However, it takes more than that to find the big ones. Here are three strategies to consider:

Look for prime habitat. Deer seek food, water and good cover. The smart ones find them in out-of-the-way places, with sanctuary—such as marshy areas and thickets—nearby. Big bucks are especially adept at finding and using those elements, which may explain their longevity. Hunt rub lines, and staging and bedding areas where deer gather. Also, locate and stake out hidden food sources where big bucks may go when under pressure.

Be persistent. Hunting one or two days during the season probably won’t cut it. Hunters who consistently come home with big bucks hunt long and often. They also do their homework beforehand, and adjust their tactics as needed after getting out into the field.

Hunt the rut well. This is when the big bucks come out. Timing is critical when hunting the rut or pre-rut. Maximize your efforts at its peak. Use scents, as allowed, and zero in on fencelines and rub lines to improve your odds.

Outdoors 101: Understanding the Differences in Waterproof,
Breathable Fabrics

Generally, there are four types of waterproof, breathable fabrics. They are not created equally.

The most basic is tightly woven fabrics, such as Ventile, a high-tech cotton material. This type of extremely breathable fabric has been used by mountaineers and explorers since at least the 1940s. It has small pores that contract when wet, due to swelling.

Fabrics with microporous coatings or membranes made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or polyurethane (PU) are another type of waterproof, breathable material. The pores are smaller than those of woven fabric. This material acts as a filter to keep rain out, while allowing moisture vapor to escape through the pores. The original Gore-Tex fabric had the first PTFE membrane. eVent is a newer, improved PTFE product, featuring a chemical that lines the pores to protect them from contamination.

A third type of fabric has a continuous hydrophilic coating or membrane, with no pores at all. Water stays out and moisture vapor is removed by a process known as molecular wicking. Marmot’s Precip and The North Face’s Hyvent are two fabrics of this type.

Another type uses both microporous and hydrophilic laminates for maximum weather resistance. It creates a more durable fabric, such as three-layer Gore-Tex XCR.

Dispose of Old Fishing Line Responsibly

Discarded fishing line can be hazardous to wildlife, swimmers and boating equipment when disposed of improperly. Consider recycling your line.

Monofilament recycling programs have popped up across the country. Look for collection containers at your local tackle shop or favorite fishing destination.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?

Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication in Ruralite and Currents magazines, we will send you $25 for one-time use. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to moc.etilarurnull@ofni.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons or bird watching along the Gulf Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.