Coinciding with demonstrations in cities across the country, about 225 people gathered Saturday morning at Roy Raley Park in Pendleton to participate in a March for Science highlighting the importance of science in the local community.
Marchers carried signs down Court Avenue before returning in silence to the park along the Pendleton River Parkway. Andrea Mann, one of the event organizers, said the rally provided reflection on the value of Earth Day.
Though the national March for Science took on a largely political tone, with scientists and supporters protesting the policies of President Donald Trump on things like climate change and environmental protection, Mann said the Pendleton march was more about emphasizing the role of science in everyday life.
“Science has so much to do with everything we touch,” Mann said.
Back at the park, a community-wide science fair featured live music, food, informational displays and hands-on scientific experiments for kids. Casey Brown, who organized the fair, said they had 19 different booths and vendors, including Blue Mountain Community College, Oregon State University Extension Service, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Pendleton FFA, among others.
“This is what makes a community stronger, when you come together and do things like this,” Brown said.
At the BMCC table, instructors led a number of kid-friendly projects — perhaps most noticeably two pig lungs attached to an air pump, showing the capacity of a pink healthy lung versus a black smoker’s lung.
Kristen Oja, a biology and general science instructor at BMCC, said getting involved in science allows children to begin uncovering mysteries all around them.
“It’s important for them to become interested, because there’s science is our everyday lives,” Oja said.
Representatives from Pendleton Parks & Recreation, the Pendleton Tree Commission and the Umatilla National Forest were also on hand giving away free seedling trees as part of the parks department’s “Pendleton Plant 1,000 Trees Initiative.” Available tree species included sugar pine, ponderosa pine, water birch and ninebark.
Both Brown and Mann said they heard positive feedback from the people who attended Saturday’s celebration. As an agricultural region, Brown re-emphasized that science and Eastern Oregon really do go hand in hand.
“Agriculture is a branch of science,” she said. “If you support agriculture, you support science, and vice versa. It’s the life blood of our area.”
Contact George Plaven at email@example.com or 541-966-0825.