In 2009, Oregon Field Guide followed along as 12 middle school students from Sunnyside Environmental School in Portland traveled 300 miles from their home to live on ranches across rural Grant County.

It was a bold experiment: Could Oregon’s bitter urban-rural divide be bridged by giving city kids a chance to work and live with ranchers whose lives were completely different from their own? 

The kids profiled by Oregon Field Guide in 2009 for the special, “Crossing the Urban-Rural Divide” are now young adults participating in elections, gun control debates and civic issues across the state and the county.

Did the ranch-living experience influence how they view the world or the issues we face today?  Has the urban-rural exchange succeeded in its mission?

Check the slideshow below and see what the kids, ranchers and employees thought of the program then and now.

In the 12 years since the urban-rural exchange program was launched by Oregon State University Extension 4H, the program has matured into a yearly exchange.