Summer Camps Provide Students With Learning Opportunities

Livestock Judging

Each summer, hundreds of kids look forward to visiting Warner for a weekend that they will talk about for the rest of their life. Each year, two sessions of the Connors State College Tradition of Excellence Livestock Judging Camp are held in June and July. During this time, kids from across the United States travel to learn the fundamentals of livestock evaluation.

Each morning the CSC livestock judging team and coaches discuss the basics of evaluating specific species. Students then put their learning to the test with classes of four animals to be placed from first to last.

The students were split into groups by experience and age to learn to present a set of reasons, explaining their placings like they would in an actual contest.

The art of livestock evaluation is not just to be a stockman and to know a goof animals from a bad one, but it is much more than that. Students who are on judging teams learn to present ideas to complete strangers and to sell it well enough that it convinces the listener of their opinion. It also teaches students that mastering a skill takes hard work. Dedication, responsibility, and integrity are all things that a person can take away from judging, if they put in the time and effort to be one of the best.

“The Tradition of Excellence Judging Camp developed into an intense training for 4-H and FFA members who not only want to succeed on the contest floor, but also want to thrive in the reasons room,” said the CSC livestock judging coach, Clint Mefford. “This camp helps improves the skills of those who attend, and best yet, is a great recruiting tool for the college.”

The Tradition of Excellence Livestock Judging Camp allows attendees to learn and gain knowledge from one of the most respected junior college judging teams in the country – an experience they will never forget.

McPeak’s Be A Champ

More than 400 participants from 13 states attended the 25th Annual Be A Champ Camp this summer at Connors State College. This camp is designed to help students learn how to groom and show cattle and sheep with former Be A Champ participants. Former CSC agriculture instructor Jerry McPeak, who has conducted the camp since 1982, said more than 400 kids came to one of this summer’s three sessions.

“It’s bigger than last year,” said McPeak, who also is a state representative. “The reason it gets larger is all word of mouth. We don’t advertise.”

Two participants, Carly Cox and Jacob Rickman both from TX, spent Friday afternoon inside the Connors State College show arena, learning and gazing at the motivational posters that read, “Chance favors the prepared” and “Winners are ex-losers who kept on trying”.

“This is my first year working a steer ever,” said Carly, 17. “I didn’t know anything about steers when I got here. This got me ready for shows.”

Carly had tagged along with Jacob Rickman to Be A Champ Camp, as he had attended last year and said nothing but great things about how the camp had helped him show cattle better over this past year.

“I just like the way they teach everyone to learn new things, and they are always enthusiastic,” said Be A Champ participate, Jacob Rickman.

McPeak said he wants the camp “to help these kids to become competitive with their sheep and cattle in the show ring.” Participants get a strong dose of motivation as they learn showmanship and livestock grooming.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb also visited the camp Friday afternoon to encourage the participants.

“This is my third year to come to the camp,” said Lamb, who grew up raising cattle near Enid. Lamb has credited his experience with livestock with helping create a work ethic.

“The real point of the camp is, if you can be good at this, you can be good at anything,” he said.

Muskogee Area Science Health & Medical Detective

This summer CSC welcomed the next generation of local Health Heroes onto campus as part of the MASH (Muskogee Area Science and Health) Camp and Camp MD (Medical Detective) programs for area students in 7th – 12th grade.

These are more than simply fun summer camps – they are designed to inspire more young people to consider pursuing health care education and careers.

The two, week-long camps offered area students an interactive opportunity to explore health careers, investigate the major systems of the body, visit local health care providers, hear from a wide variety of health care professionals, and learn about area health education programs like CSC’s Nursing program and Muskogee Difference Healthcare Scholarship.

CSC teamed up with the Eastern Oklahoma Health Care Coalition, Indian Capital Technology Center and a variety of area partners to make the camps possible, including Eastar Health System, the VA Medical Center and Cherokee Nation Three Rivers Clinic. Wren Stratton, health careers instructor at ICTC, served as the lead instructor and camp host at ICTC, and CSC Nursing Instructor Angela Martindale volunteered to share knowledge and help the camps run smoothly.

Joyce Johnson, CSC’s chair of the Nursing and Allied Health department, kept campers riveted and earned many “ewwws” and “oh, grosses” with a gory slide show that introduced campers to a variety of health challenges and accident situations. She explained that if students are considering nursing, they need to get comfortable with seeing gross situations and that nursing school helps people learn to provide outstanding care even when it’s difficult to look.

CSC President Dr. Tim Faltyn encouraged campers to really think about their values, beliefs and attitudes and to use them to help guide their leadership, education and career success. According to the campers, Dr. Faltyn’s advice was “awesome” and the camp staff agreed that his words were motivating and thought-provoking for the adults, as well as the kids.

That’s exactly what MASH Camp and Camp MD strive to do, and why CSC is proud to partner to make this fun learning opportunity available to area young people.

Wilderness Adventure

Middle- and high-school students from across the state got a chance this week to handle snakes and catch catfish at Connors State College’s science camp.

Campers were able to experience a variety of outdoor activities at the college’s South Ranch, which is south of Warner. The 1,613-acre ranch features nature trails, lakes and shooting facilities that provide plenty of options for the students to learn.

“Who else has that?” said Dr. Stuart Woods, a biology professor at Connors.

Kasie Pense, 15, traveled from Madill to attend the camp.

“I’m a science person,” Kasie said. “I like doing entomology.”

Carley Laird, 17, of Tecumseh returned for her second year at the camp. She plans to take back what she learns at the camp and share it with her sister.

“I came last year and had a lot of fun,” she said. “It helps me out more when I get back home to help out with my little sister.”

Students from rural communities across Oklahoma attend the science camp.

“We invite 40 each week,” Woods said. “Honestly, our approach is for them to have so much fun they don’t know they’re learning.”

The second of three sessions took place this week. The first two sessions are funded by a federal grant program by the U.S. Department of Education called GEAR UP, for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. The program helps students acquire the academic skills, planning information, financial assistance and support they need to succeed in college.

The last session is funded by the Oklahoma State Regents’ Summer Academy program.

“Support from GEAR UP, the Summer Academy and the staff help make it successful,” Woods said.

Students take part by learning about nature and science. They also get to see what college living is like by staying in the Connors dormitories during the week.

Edra Thrower, student and parent specialist for GEAR UP, said the camp helps take the fear out of the initial college experience.

“For a lot of kids, this is their first opportunity to visit a college campus,” Thrower said.

The students were able to fish, practice shooting, handle snakes and learn about insects.

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