Rural Scholars Summer Workshop: Location-ology

10th Graders Participate in Rural Scholars Summer Workshop

Students involved with the Rural Scholars Program through the Kent State Columbiana County Campuses spent part of their summer breaks in educational workshops that kept their minds and bodies working.

Through three week-long workshops based on the Kent State Salem Campus, the students and their college mentors used hands-on activities to learn lessons in math, science, business, technology, geography and social studies. The students traveled throughout Columbiana County, and into Mahoning County, for many of their lessons.

Wendy Pfrenger is the Rural Scholars program coordinator and she explained that this summer’s workshop activities were intended to help the students appreciate the community around them. 

“Offering our Rural Scholars opportunities to study applied science and math in the same places they call home helps them see how what they’re learning in school matters in the real world, too,” she said. “We hope that offering experiences like this early in their school careers will encourage them to imagine successful futures for themselves in northeast Ohio after they graduate.”

Larry Heck of Pier 48 explains how the Ohio River serves as a conduit for local industry while hosting a group of Rural Scholars.Pfrenger added that through the workshops, students also learned about career pathways from professionals and entrepreneurs who choose to follow their dreams in Columbiana County.

Rural Scholars in the tenth grade, for instance, participated in a workshop entitled “Location-ology,” during which they learned about regional enterprise and the economy, as well as geology, astronomy, geography, archaeology and history. 

They visited the Intermodal Park facility in Wellsville where they learned about the role the Ohio River plays in the regional economy. They were welcomed by Larry Heck, owner and president of Pier 48 Stevedoring LLC, who explained the importance of understanding the market served by his business, while also anticipating worldwide political and geographic influences on the business.

Pier 48 operates a 60-ton overhead industrial crane system which can lift cargo containers to and from barges onto rail cars. A conveyor belt system moves aggregate materials that are shipped from all around the world. The company’s name represents the terminal’s location along the Ohio River, near the 48-mile marker.

While talking with the students, Heck also described how his career took shape and how his company cultivates a successful workplace environment. 

Rodney Smith of CIMBAR stands before a pile of talc from Pakistan, which can be used in products such as chewing gum, baby powder, plastics and many food items.


The Rural Scholar students also met with Rodney Smith, plant manager of CIMBAR Performance Minerals, which is also located in the Intermodal Park in Wellsville. 

CIMBAR was founded in 1914 and, aside from its Wellsville site, operates facilities in Texas, Indiana, Georgia and China. The company delivers raw materials critical to industries around the world and is the leading supplier of barium sulfate. It also offers a broad line of high-purity talc, calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, bentonite and recycled mineral filler.

Smith showed the scholars the variety of workspaces and opportunities available in the plant, including loading and bagging, machine operation, laboratory positions and the repair shop. He also emphasized the importance of understanding global connections by showing the students various minerals stored at CIMBAR that come from places as diverse as Pakistan, Jamaica, Mexico and China.

The scholars also spent a morning with Salem-area entrepreneur Bob Sebo, who gave a presentation about career-building, work ethic, educational choices and entrepreneurial thinking. Afterward, he sat with students and answered questions about how he decided on his career; the personal qualities he feels are important for building a successful career; and the importance of education. 

Sebo and his wife, Linda, have supported the Rural Scholars Program through the FlashDash Obstacle 5K and recently helped make it possible for students from United Local Schools be admitted into the program.

During the week, the students also visited the Ward Beecher planetarium on the Youngstown State University campus and toured the Historical Center of Industry and Labor in Youngstown.

Cheryl Mattevi, adjunct instructor of geology at Kent State Salem, led the students on a hike to a reclaimed mine area just south of the campus where they explored the local geology’s effect on the area’s economy and environment, learned about the remediated mine shaft and sifted through sediment looking for fossils.

The Rural Scholars Program is designed to offer first-generation college-bound students and their families from Columbiana County the knowledge and social support they need to succeed at a university. The goal is for each student in the program to complete a post-secondary education with credentials necessary to succeed in his or her career.

The program also includes local Kent State students who serve as mentors to the rural scholars. Likewise, each mentor is a first-generation college student from Columbiana County with a strong record of academic success and a desire to serve the community. 


Participating in a Rural Scholars summer workshop on the Kent State Salem Campus were (front, from left): Wendy Pfrenger, Madison Borchardt, Angelica Rogers, Anthony Bell, Kyle Hartman, Calie Sherrill, Hannah DeLand, Morgan Briand, Taylor Myers, Courtney Wagoner, Serena Biddle; and (back, from left): Harley Webb, Courtney Rebuck, Chris Pritt, Clay Poteet, Erin Taylor, Toni Laney, Dan Koehler, Brandon Bennett, Jacob Baker, Jarrod Westover, Tristen Hinkle, Tyler Timmann, Austin Cope, Dalton Ash and Bob Sebo.

Larry Heck of Pier 48 explains how the Ohio River serves as a conduit for local industry while hosting a group of Rural Scholars.

Rodney Smith of CIMBAR stands before a pile of talc from Pakistan, which can be used in products such as chewing gum, baby powder, plastics and many food items.


POSTED: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 04:22 PM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 01:46 PM