North Dakota youth build character while learning through Governor’s School experience
Published June 4, 2012
For many students, Governor’s School provides a springboard to a fulfilling college and professional career. For others, it develops leadership and character. More than 80 of North Dakota’s brightest minds are realizing that potential life-changing experience during the next six weeks.
Governor’s School is a state-sponsored and funded program hosted at NDSU each summer since 1990. The 2012 school opened June 3 and runs through July 14. Each year, North Dakota high school sophomores and juniors get the college experience by living at NDSU and studying laboratory science, mathematics, information technology, English studies and visual arts – theatre arts and visual arts alternate each year.
2012 marks the 23rd Governor’s School and Lonnie Hass, the program’s longtime director, said he frequently sees leaders develop and emerge after arriving on campus. “It’s not just academics,” Hass said. “We’re showing students how to cooperate, develop character and be a leader. It’s important to learn how to take care of each other. The youth of North Dakota are one of our priceless commodities.”
In addition to a wide variety of academic experiences ranging from classroom work to field trips, Governor’s School students take part in service-learning activities. In 2011, they collected more than 3,000 pounds of food for the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo.
“A big focus for us is getting them into the realization that community service is an expectation in life,” Hass said. “When people encounter hardship, we step up and help.”
Students attend life and leadership classes and travel to Minneapolis to tour 3M and visit the Science Museum, Valley Fair and Art Institute. The 2012 group also will visit the Guthrie Theater and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden near the Walker Art Center, in addition to a weekend canoeing the Crow Wing River in Minnesota.
“We want to find that spark in a student and give it the chance to burst into a flame,” Hass said. “The idea is that we support the students. That’s the strength of Governor’s School.”
Governor’s School alumni praise the impact the program has had on their lives. A Carrington, N.D., native, Mike Chambers attended the Governor’s School laboratory science program in 1992 and got hands-on experience in the USDA Agricultural Research Center’s sugar beet research lab. “I got to look under a microscope and see things people hadn’t seen before,” he said. “I learned that I love laboratory research. There was no doubt in my mind I wanted to go to NDSU after Governor’s School.”
Chambers pursued research on biotechnology, microbiology and chemistry at NDSU, where he began creating the technology he would eventually spin off into Aldevron, a customized plasmid, protein and antibody services company. Chambers founded the company, which is headquartered in Fargo with offices in Madison, Wis., and Germany, in 1998. “Everything we’re doing now has its roots in Governor’s School,” he said.