U.S. senator honors internship program

At Sen. Merkley’s town hall, KCSD staff receive flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley on Friday awarded an American flag that has flown over the U.S. Capitol to the Basin Partners Internship Program, which partners with local businesses and organizations to provide high school students with work experience.


Mazama High School business teacher Benji Henslee, who coordinates the program, accepted the flag along with Klamath County School District secondary curriculum director Jeff Bullock and OSU Klamath Basin Research Extension Center’s Tracy Tracy. Bullock and Tracy were instrumental in starting the program four years ago.

“I like to shine a light on community members who are making a difference, and today I’m going to shine that light on the Basin Partners Internship Program,” Sen. Merkley, D-Ore., told the crowd at his annual Klamath County Town Hall at Oregon Tech.

At every town hall, the senator awards a flag to a community group or program that is making a positive difference in the community and improves the life of its residents.

Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot nominated the Basin Partnership Internship Program for the senator’s flag award after the county government last summer hosted five interns.

“Every department head who had one of these outstanding youth has indicated that they would like to host again next year,” Commissioner DeGroot said. “This program provides a great benefit to the host companies while giving our youth an opportunity to get real world work experience. It was my honor to nominate the program to Senator Merkley’s office for this well-deserved recognition.”

The Basin Partners Internship Program (BPIP) started in 2016 as a partnership between the Klamath County School District, Oregon State University Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center and Southern Oregon Education Service District. It is open to all students in the Basin. The goal is to provide local students with work experience and exposure to career fields.

Over the last four summers, more than 80 students have participated, working with various business and organizations including restaurants, small businesses, wildlife refuges, Klamath County government, the county school district and OSU Extension.

“We really appreciate and need businesses and organizations who are willing to invest in our students,” Henslee said.

Business that participate contribute $1,200 to the program. Of that, interns earn a $1,000 stipend for interning for 120 to 140 hours over a six-week period during the summer months.

Every year, the program needs and welcomes more businesses and organizations. Any business or organization interested in hosting an intern, should contact BPIP coordinator Benji Henslee at hensleeb@kcsd.k12.or.us. More information is available on the Basin Partners Internship Program’s website and Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community-Organization/Basin-Partners-Internship-Program-581129092248928/