Updated: Students install metal wildlife figures at Reach center (w/video)

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldApril 30, 2014 

The metal silhouette of a ferruginous hawk took Christopher Senor six or seven days to create.

But it will be a lasting part of the long-awaited Hanford Reach Interpretive Center, set to open in July at the west end of Columbia Park.

And Christopher, 17, a junior at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, said that's a great feeling.

"I think it's really cool, just to be part of a museum piece when you're (a teenager). Not many people get to do that," he told the Herald.

Christopher is one of several advanced shop students at Kamiakin who created metal silhouettes of native Hanford Reach wildlife for the interpretive center.

The students, who spent time researching their critters, also prepared information for permanent markers to display with their works. The silhouettes -- there are 21 in all -- are being installed this week along a trail running up to the interpretive center.

Washington River Protection Solutions, the Hanford tank farm contractor, paid for the material.

Christopher's mom, Denise Senor, is an agricultural education teacher at Kamiakin, and she oversaw the silhouette project.

"I think it's phenomenal," she said, before she, Christopher and a few other students got to work Wednesday installing a large elk silhouette. "The kids are so excited about having their names (on the markers with the silhouettes), and they can drive by and say, 'Hey, that's my piece.'"

Teens are contributing in other ways to the interpretive center. Kamiakin shop students are building garden beds to go with an irrigation pivot that will sit outside the facility, and agriculture science and floral design students from the school are raising vegetables and flowers to go in them.

The interpretive center has a 14,000-square-foot main level with two galleries, a multipurpose room, offices, a store, a DVD viewing room and an entry hall looking out on the Columbia River.

It also has a 10,000-square-foot basement. Outdoor features include two stages.

Lisa Toomey, CEO of the Reach center, stopped by the site Wednesday as the students were installing silhouettes. Through the project, the youths have learned about the Hanford Reach National Monument, she said.

"I think what makes this even more special is that now they're part of the story. They're not just learning about it, but they're now part of the story, they're part of the Reach. What I look forward to is the day they come back with their own children and say, 'I did that elk. I did that coyote.' They own this. This is now their institution," Toomey said.

The collaboration between the Reach center and Senor's students won't end with the garden beds and current stable of metal silhouettes.

Toomey and Senor already are discussing works that students can take on next school year, from more creatures -- even a mammoth -- to planetary bodies as part of a solar system project.

Along with Christopher, several other Kamiakin students have helped install the silhouettes, including Tanner Jones, Emma Hewitt and Kendall Halvorson. On Wednesday, sophomores Trevor Moore and Mitch Treadway worked together to secure one of the silhouettes into the ground.

They said the project has been fun. "It will be interesting when it's complete," said Mitch, 17.

"It was quite a bit of work, but I think it will be worth it," added Trevor, 15, who created a mule deer silhouette for the interpretive center. "To see them on display -- it will be really nice."

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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