Connecting Communities One Step At A Time

Exiting Oregon, Entering Idaho

Our time spent with the Bowns family just south of Nyssa was a memorable end to our journey through Oregon. The Bowns operate a large onion, potato and sugar beet farm and have a beautiful home that they graciously opened to us for the evening.

Annie Bowns drove us to the K-8 and high schools in nearby Adrian, where we were able to speak with Principals Ellsworth and Purnell, respectively. We learned a great deal about how small rural schools were impacted by the recent recession, evolving demographics, and implementation of the Common Core standards. It is clear that small rural schools face a number of unique challenges not always observed in their urban counterparts; for example, Principal Purnell is responsible for teaching three classes during the school day in addition to his administrative role. That evening, we enjoyed a family dinner and even picked some of our own potatoes and onions from the farm after seeing them loaded into semi-trucks.

The next day, we were excited to reach a milestone: crossing into another state, Idaho! We ran to Caldwell, ID and during the afternoon enjoyed a conversation with Caldwell Fire Chief Mark Wendelsdorf, who gave us insight to the city. Adam and I later walked around the town and understood what the Chief meant by an ongoing town restoration.

We transitioned from farm to suburb to city as we ran from Caldwell to Boise. Our first meeting in Boise was with South Jr. High School physical science teacher Aaron McKinnon. Mr. McKinnon’s passion and talent for teaching were immediately apparent, and we enjoyed a lengthy conversation ranging from teaching science to education policy. We learned about the disparity between the performance of Boise schools versus that of rural Idaho schools, which we again discussed with Boise district school superintendent Dr. Donald Coberly the following day.

We enjoyed pancakes and conversation with Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson, Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, and United Way Treasure Valley CEO Nora Carpenter at a United Way Flapjack Feed in downtown. After learning about important community-driven initiatives such as a recently established suicide hotline, we met with City Council members TJ Thompson and Elaine Clegg. Mr. Thompson is working hard to increase healthy habits in childcare (including decreased media time and increased physical activity), and Ms. Clegg is a strong advocate for integrated transportation and ‘complete street’ initiatives.

Adam’s dad, Richard, met us in Boise, and today Adam and I enjoyed our first joint run since Prineville. We encountered some hilly and rough trail-like terrain and even ran along the Oregon Trail over the 25 miles we covered. We now head on a northern route towards Idaho Falls.