[ The Observer-November 2002]     [Oregonian-October 2003]     [Oregonian-July 2004]     [Home]

WEEKEND, November 23-24, 2002
Goldendale High School StudentsPhoto by Daren Spencer
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer

ater from North Powder is generating economic sparks for high school students in Goldendale, Wash.

      Members of a Goldendale High School business class are running a successful business thanks to help from an innovative North Powder company.

      The North Powder firm, Oregon Trail Mountain Spring Water, is a bottled water company that produces bottled water with customized labels for at least 200 businesses.

      Oregon Trail also helps high school organizations with a program designed to generate money for them and help students learn the fine points of running a business.

      Through it, students at Goldendale and other high schools design their own labels. Students also sell advertising that appears on the back of the labels and is easily visible through the clear bottles.

      "They are liquid calling cards," said Ken Holman, who owns Oregon Trail with his wife, Patsy.

      The print on the ads is magnified by the water in the bottle, making it possible to fit more on the back of the label because finer print can be used.

      Goldendale and other participating high schools not only
sell advertising but also the actual bottled water, which they
purchase from the Holmans.

      "It is an opportunity for them to conduct their own
fundraiser and build school pride," Ken Holman said.

      The Holmans' company also bottles water for Baker High School in Baker City, and high schools in Weiser, Homedale, Parma, St. Anthony and Emmett, Idaho

      In Goldendale, the student business selling the water, Timberwolf Springs, has designed a label with three wolves.
(The Timberwolf is Goldendale High School's mascot.)

      The company has made a splash, selling 6,000
bottles each of the past two years. This year the company's leaders hope to sell 12,000 bottles.

      On Wednesday, 25 students from Goldendale's FBLA chapter took a voyage to the Oregon Trail plant to see where their product comes from. The water is obtained from a spring next to the Holmans' plant about 50 yards from the real Oregon Trail. A pioneer diary indicates that wagon trains stopped to get water at the spring in the 1800s, Holman said. continued column 2
        After seeing the spring, the Goldendale students worked on the water-bottle assembly line and had a chance to bottle their own water.

      "This gave them an opportunity to see how a product is produced from start to finish," said Becky Bare, a career specialist at Goldendale High School.

      Goldendale's bottled water project is being conducted as part of a Rural Entrepreneurship Through Action Learning (REAL) class program. Goldendale's Future Business Leaders of America chapter is also connected to the business.

      Rob Wing, a business teacher at Goldendale High School, said that Ken Holman is a key part of the project's success.

      "He has bent over backwards for us. I have nothing but praise for him," Wing said.

      Holman receives assistance from Daren Spencer and Louise Shreffler of Baker City, the company's in-house artists. Spencer and Shreffler fine tune the labels created by students.

      Holman started the high school program two years ago because he wanted to give students an opportunity to "work and learn".

      "They are rewarded by how much effort they put in," Holman said.

      A school that sells enough advertising can cover all of its expenses and make some money besides. Most of the 20-ounce bottles sell for about $1 a bottle.

      The most successful student group Holman works with is from South Fremont High School in St. Anthony, Idaho. Students there make between $10,000 and $11,000 a year by selling bottled water they receive from Holman. The students label each bottle as a "Cougar Cooler" because the cougar is South Fremont's mascot.

      Holman started his company about five years ago. The North Powder entrepreneur enjoys working with students and giving them the opportunity to leam and raise money.

      "I get a big kick out of it," he said.