Wes Crawford

Through the Windshield

Blog Post created by Wes Crawford on Oct 8, 2012

Well hello there.  Welcome (back) to another school year.


Being out here in Oregon (pronounced OR-ih-gun, by the way) we're a bit farther off the track than most.  Many people don't realize just how a) large and b) diverse the Beaver state can be.1  This is true for both many of my students who haven't made it that far across the state, and for many folks from other states as well.  For example, what do you think of when you think of Oregon?2  Most say rain, forests, rain, Portland, rain, and the Oregon Trail.3  Fortunately, there is a lot more to it than that.


In fact, Oregon is incredibly diverse in environment, terrain, and agriculture.  With over 280 commodities produced in some part of the state, there is a lot going on.  Today, the Sutherlin FFA (my chapter) and the Oakland FFA (my wife's chapter) embarked on the 11.675 hour minibus ride (with stops) across the state of Oregon to the literal northeast corner to compete in our State Soil Judging CDE, and tonight I type this from the Enterprise, Oregon Best Western.


For most, 507.2 miles of travel gets you through 1, 2, or 7 states, depending on your region.  But this trip was one I looked forward to, because I knew what a great chance it would be for our students to see how quickly Oregon gets different.4  So it was with gusto we started at 8am this morning, and by this evening had completed the following:



Now I realize many of you drive less miles to attend the National Convention.  Now you know why we fly.


So let us share with you the diversity of Oregon's...diversity.  Check out some of the shots we saw through the windshield today:5


We started heading north this morning and entered the south end of the Willamette Valley.  The ultimate goal of all those pioneers, the Valley is a textbook example of prime, Class I farmland thanks to ice age action 10,000 years ago that ended up stealing all the great top soil from eastern Washington and depositing it here6.  Unfortunately, it is also home to 75% of the state's population.

You probably have heard that Oregon has trees.  And yes, we did not cut them all down in the 1980's - there are as much or more forestland now as there was in 1800.  In fact, Oregon has some of the most progressive forestry practice laws in the country.  But in fact Oregon is only 42% forests, and of that 59% is owned by the government.  As a result of the politics of the past 25 years, over 80% of the timber production in Oregon is from private land.7



Now as you get over the Cascade Range the term 'rain shadow' is on display.  While western Oregon receives 40-100" of rain/year (depending on location), some parts of the east side receive less than 10" annually.  If you think this is a surprise, imagine how my students who live with the rain and have never been to eastern Oregon before feel!

Some of you flatlanders may feel better as you head east...your view is no longer filled by mountains.  This is the part of Oregon I endearingly refer to as 'The place where you can count the trees you see.  All the trees."



And sometimes, you just never what you're going to find along the way...

Just another day in the life.  The only thing better than a day of changing scenery through the windshield is introducing a group of students to it, and making their world that much bigger.


See you on the road!



READER RESPONSE:  What things have you done to broaden your students' horizons?





1 - Notice we are the (OSU) Beaver State, not the (UO) Duck State

2 - If you said "Portlandia," you understand why I cry.  The worse thing - that show is no exaggeration on Portland, Oregon.  None.

3 - You remember that game right?  Where you tried to ford the river and your oxen died?  All I ever did was buy 20,000 rounds of ammo and hunt...

4 - Ecologically/environmentally/agriculturally different, not Portlandia different

5 - Care was taken so that the driver was not distracted while driving the minibus, thank you very much.

6 - Missoula Floods

7 - I could be in a presidential debate with this sort of display of knowledge!

8 - There was no number 8.  But special thanks to my friend Tyler as I shamelessly steal his method of footnoting blog posts.