Holly Morris, CGCC Alumna, Engages Youth Through Science
From the electronic programming of robots to the underwater mysteries of the salmon life cycle, Holly Morris challenges kids to not only think about the world they live in, but to fully engage it through practical science curriculum. Holly’s hands-on career with the 4-H program at OSU-Wasco County Extension Service is the result of her bold choice to return to school as an adult.
Holly started at Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) in 2000 while she was still employed at the local movie store and busily caring for her family. “I was ready for a change in my life and school seemed like a great resource to fuel the change. It was challenging to work and go to college. Especially because being a part-time student means that it takes a lot of time to finish a degree. I am glad I persisted, though!” says Holly.
Upon graduation with an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Management, Holly transferred to Oregon State University where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, a degree that opened the door to her current job. “I am a very hands-on, project driven, outdoorsy person and I am very lucky to be able to fully apply my education and personal traits to my daily work,” comments Holly.
As an Educational Program Assistant with the 4-H program, Holly gets to interact with students of all ages. At The Dalles Middle School, she implements a science curriculum in which the students actually raise baby salmon and then collaborate with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and Native American tribes to track and learn about the fish. In Maupin, the kids are engaged in an embryology experiment in which they study and arrange necessary conditions to hatch chicken eggs. She is also actively involved in worm science projects at Colonel Wright and Chenowith Elementary Schools in which students observe and test reactions of insects to changes in the environment: light versus dark, cold versus warm, wet versus dry. Nature hikes, eco-journaling and gardening with youth are other examples of Holly’s community enrichment programs.
“Besides in-class activities, we are also very involved in after school robotics programs. Wasco County 4-H TDMS won the 1st annual Gorge Gravity Games soap box derby car competition in The Dalles and is preparing for a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) competition in the spring. Students are in the process of building submersible robots capable of performing multiple underwater tasks.” Holly strives to make real-world connections in all of her programs. “In the future, I hope our robot will be helpful in tracking salmon that students are raising in one of our programs. It so incredibly satisfying to see kids in various age so readily engaging with science, nature and learning - it is very inspirational!”
To learn more about the Wasco County 4-H program contact Holly at (541) 296-5494.