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Hunter Spence, Ally Pawol, and Ethen Perkins

At 8:30 on a recent Wednesday morning, Adams Elementary fourth-graders and trained peer mediators Hunter Spence and Ally Pawol got air time on the school intercom to offer fellow students a few tips on conflict resolution. They were coached by Ethen Perkins, an Adams parent who organized the district's first parent-coordinated peer-mediation program in the fall of 2007. "It saves time for teachers," he notes. "We get help from counselors and interns." Raised on a homestead farm in South Dakota, Perkins went on to a PhD in botany, college teaching in Texas and Colorado, and five years as director of the Malheur Field Station in Eastern Oregon. He is currently a freelance environmental consultant. "My proudest achievement is restoring the endangered Willamette Valley Daisy on the Hynix property wetlands next to Willow Creek," he says. For nearly 20 years, Perkins has been a facilitator with the Alternatives to Violence Project, giving workshops in the community and inside prisons. He also volunteers for one-on-one visits with kids detained in the county youth facility. "We have a lot of fun," he says. "My ultimate goal is to give kids the problem-solving skills to see options in conflict situations."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 11 December 2008

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