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Rogers Explorers Explore College Life
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Center for Rural Development Program Allows Students to ‘Explore’ College Life

Posted on Friday, June 12, 2009 [9:22 PM]
Rogers Explorers
A total of 29 students from the region participated in the Rogers Explorers program, held Jun 10-12 at Lindsey Wilson.

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- A lot of rising ninth-grade students may be tempted to take it easy after they graduate from the eighth grade. But less than a month after 29 area students graduated from the eighth grade, they spent three days this week at Lindsey Wilson College learning about biology, communication, energy and leadership.

The 29 students were part of the Rogers Explorers program, which was held June 10-12 at Lindsey Wilson. Sponsored by the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Ky., in conjunction with Lindsey Wilson, the Rogers Explorers is an intensive three-day, two-program that exposes rising ninth-grade students to courses in communication, mathematics and science.

Two Rogers Explorers programs were held this summer -- one at Lindsey Wilson, the other at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky. A total of 59 students from the Center for Rural Development's 42-county service area participated in the program at the two colleges. The Rogers Explorers program is one of three summer programs the Center offers to youth in its service area.

"One of the biggest benefits of this program is that it gets students to think about postsecondary education even before they have entered secondary education," said Jessica D. Melton, Center for Rural Development assistant director of education and training. "Being on a college campus, being in a college classroom and being with college professors all have a positive influence on them. … It's different than going to a basketball campus - they are experiencing the academic elements of a college campus."

During the day, the 29 Rogers Scholars at Lindsey Wilson were taught by the college's faculty in subjects that included genetics, physics and communication skills. When not in class, they enjoyed several social events, and they also participated in community-service projects in Adair and Russell counties.

"It's very important to have a community-service component in the program because we want the students to understand the importance of serving others and helping their communities through service," Melton said.

One of the activities the Rogers Explorers especially enjoyed was a videoconference meeting with officials at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. That activity impressed Alison Feese of Columbia, who will be an Adair County High School freshman this fall. Like many of the Rogers Explorers, Feese was surprised to learn that NASA had job opportunities for just about every interest.

"It was really interesting to see all the stuff they do," Feese said. The videoconference meeting with NASA "gives them that dream-big potential," Melton said.

At Friday evening's closing ceremony, held in the Norma and Glen Hodge Center for Discipleship, Center for Rural Development President and CEO Lonnie Lawson told the students and their family members that the three days spent at Lindsey Wilson were but a beginning in their education journey.

"You must take an active role in your education" Lawson said. "Only you can really get to where you need to be in education."

Lawson also praised the Rogers Explorers for combining academic pursuits with community-service activities.

"This is really what the heart of the mission for the Center for Rural Development is all about - it's about improving the quality of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky," he said. "And we can only do that if we keep our best and brightest here at home, educate them here at home, get them involved in community decisions, get them involved in community service."

And if the evaluation of Noah Richards of Columbia is any indication, the Rogers Explorers program held at Lindsey Wilson was a tremendous success.

"My three days here have been the best three days I've had my whole life," said Richards, who will be a freshman this fall at Adair County High School. "I can't wait to go home and use the skills we have learned."

Check out some of the highlights from the Rogers Explorers.

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