Sharpening Summer Skills
Basin Partners Internship gives work experience to students
Program in its second year
By SAMANTHA TIPLER
Klamath County School District
Harley Curtis knows after he graduates from Mazama High School in 2018, he wants to enlist in the U.S. Army to become a diesel technician. At the beginning of the summer, he came to Turn Thom Point S. Tire & Auto as an intern. Six weeks later the local business hired him to work full-time.
“Working here, being around cars and learning how to turn wrenches on cars, is something that will help me in the future,” he said. “It’s hard for people under 18 to get hired on a job. This is a great way to get job experience and make money.”
Harley was one of 24 students who participated in the Basin Partners Internship Program this summer. The interns worked for six weeks full-time (35 to 40 hours per week) gaining real-world experience and two $500 paychecks.
Harley is one of seven interns who were either offered jobs or asked to volunteer after the completion of their six weeks.
On Wednesday, 20 of the interns gave presentations to the community, sharing their experiences from the summer.
“Basin Partners Internship Program is a community-wide effort to provide job skills, job opportunities and internships to young people in our community,” Jeff Bullock, Secondary Curriculum Director for the Klamath County School District, said at the event. “The job has a real training and knowledge component to it. It’s not just busing tables or scrubbing floors.”
This is the second year of the BPIP. It started through a partnership between KCSD, Oregon State University Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center and the Southern Oregon Education Service District.
Benji Henslee, working with the ESD, organized the program.
In its first year, about 20 interns participated. This year, the number rose to 24. Students participated from both school districts and home school. Students participated from Mazama High School, Henley High School, Klamath Union High School, EagleRidge High School, and Bonanza Jr./Sr. High School.
In its first year, the program was partially grant funded. This year local businesses stepped up to provide the funding, which paid the $1,000 stipend to interns and funding for management of the program.
“This year our business partners signed on and they’ve paid the bills,” Bullock said. “This is community-wide. It’s not a county school program, it’s not a city school program, it’s something that’s available to the entire community. There’s potential for everyone to be involved.”
Christina Mueller, 16, has her plan set for the future: environmental law. Her BPIP internship aligned perfectly with her plans. She interned with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge. She spent the summer helping at the visitor center, canoeing, learning archery and birding by bike.
“This really stood out for me as a perfect fit because I want credible field work. I definitely got that this summer,” the Klamath Union High School senior said. “Now I have a recommendation letter on behalf of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, which is going to help me get into college. That’s really powerful.”
Callie Wooten, 17, also found her internship lined up with her future plans. She wants to be an elementary teacher. This summer the Henley High School senior interned at the Klamath County Library.
“It was with youth services and I like working with kids,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed reading and language and that kind of thing. I thought it would be an interesting experience.” She recommended the program to other students.
“It’s a good experience,” Callie said. “It’s helpful in realizing what you like to do and what you don’t like to do and narrowing down possible careers.”
Some internships did not directly align with students’ goals, but they still gained valuable experience.
Zoey Johnson, 17, a senior at Bonanza Jr./Sr. High School, interned at Holliday Jewelry. She learned about marketing, office work, customer service and how to repair jewelry. Like Harley, Zoey was offered a job after finishing her internship, which she took.
“I want to be a video game designer,” she said. “It doesn’t have much to do with jewelry, but I think in general just having a job gives you an idea of what having another job is going to be like.”
Samantha Tipler, public relations, Klamath County School District
Phone 541-851-8743; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org