CORVALLIS, Ore. - Ian Ferrier's passion for art has been building for years, but it was his two-year experience in the Oregon State University JumpstART program that really solidified his dreams of becoming an artist.

Ferrier was a Corvallis High School junior when he decided to apply for the summer arts program at OSU. "Once I came in, I was hooked," he said.

The JumpstART program is a precollege visual and performing arts program. It is offered to high school students during the summers after their freshman through senior years in high school. The intent is to help students create work that will be worthy of a portfolio used to get into a college art program. JumpstART instructors are all artists themselves, and include faculty from the OSU department of art as well as visiting artist instructors, some of them graduates of JumpstART programs in years past.

 "These kids are busy from 9 a.m. in the morning until 10 p.m. some nights," said JumpstART Associate Director Felicia Phillips.

Marion Rossi, director of JumpstART, said the program gives exposure to the quality art programs that OSU offers, and students form a strong attachment to campus. That exposure, plus the opportunity to win scholarships to OSU through the program, help encourage students to seriously consider attending the university.

"Some of the best visual art students we've had in the past 10 to 15 years have entered through the JumpstART program," he said.

Last year, the JumpstART program had to be cancelled when not enough students signed up for the program. While economic factors likely contributed to the low turnout, Phillips isn't taking any chances this year. She's been doing classroom visits around the state, especially to traditionally underrepresented populations, and has been getting the word out to as many high schools as possible.

Rossi said having to cancel last year's program was hard, but the staff came out of the experience determined to have a strong 2010 program. Rossi said in a down economy where high schools are putting art programs on the chopping block, a program like JumpstART becomes even more important.

"It provides a unique opportunity to students for a complete immersion in the arts," he said. "It allows them to live in an environment where fellow artists and students encourage them to try new things."

Phillips is optimistic that they'll have at least 50 students this year, but said many students put off applying until the April 30 deadline. Although closing down last year's program was tragic, it means that the scholarship money available for that year wasn't used, and has been added to this year's pool, meaning that $24,000 is available for students who can provide evidence of financial need, and who can provide a strong portfolio of their high school art work.

The three-week program costs $1,995 for students who are participating in the resident program (meaning they live on campus), and $1,195 for those who commute to the program each day. The program runs from June 20 through July 9.

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Felicia Phillips; 541-737-5007