Community vitality and whiteboarding—yes, it is a real verb—come together in the February First Monday Video. Lindsey Shirley, associate provost of University Outreach and Engagement and associate director of OSU Extension Service, and Jeff Sherman, assistant director of University Outreach and Engagement, demonstrate their collective innovation and problem-solving process. They want your input into their community vitality process and outcome.
Share the projects and ideas you are whiteboarding, or invite Jeff and Lindsey to join you in a whiteboard session, in the comment section below.
The University Outreach and Engagement blog features stories about the vast variety of ways OSU and OSU Extension Service offer meaningful outreach and engagement to support healthy communities, healthy planet and a healthy economy.
Written by Amy Jo Detweiler, associate professor, Horticulture Faculty for Central Oregon
Edible landscaping and backyard food production continues to gain popularity with gardeners. With this trend, there has been an increasing number of people inquiring about control of their “wormy apples” (a.k.a. codling moth) in Central Oregon.
Codling moth is not only a pest of apple and pear trees in Central Oregon, it is a serious pest on both a statewide and national level for backyard and commercial fruit tree growers.
One of the most critical components for effectively managing this pest is timing . . . and the use of integrated pest management strategies (IPM).
In an effort to help clients with management decisions, Project Happy Apples was initiated in 2015 (a soft launch) and officially launched in 2016. A Project Happy Apples website was setup, which includes a place for clients to opt-in to receive timely emails for codling moth management specific to Central Oregon.
Project Happy Apples emails include timely photos and suggestions for various kinds of research-based management. Emails also contain simple instructions on exactly when to do what, a supplies list, associated costs, and where to buy supplies locally, or online. Suggested management strategies include both organic and more traditional types of management so that clients can make informed decisions. All of the email notes are available with additional pest information on the Project Happy Apples website.
Currently, three hundred gardeners receive the emails. A survey was sent to clients in December to assess the value of the project and measure impact. Ideally clients will make informed decisions that will allow them to be more effective in controlling the pest, reduce or eliminate pesticide use, and produce edible apples and pears. They will also be taking an active role in suppressing the pest population statewide in an effort to protect the commercial tree fruit industry in Oregon.
Written by Pat Kight and Tiffany Woods for Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Confluence
[Editor’s note: Involving youth and teachers in citizen science evolves into interests in natural resource careers, stronger connections to the natural world, and fuller student experiences. Oregon Sea Grant offers many opportunities for citizen scientists, as this story exemplifies, and it also exemplifies community engagement.]
A dozen fourth- and fifth-grade Girl Scouts splash in the shade-dappled shallows of Rock Creek, southwest of Corvallis, trying to scoop up tiny aquatic insects with small dip nets and deposit them into plastic dish tubs.
They’re learning about their watershed—and getting a taste of what it’s like to be a scientist—thanks to Oregon Sea Grant’s StreamWebs program.
The statewide program provides educators with field equipment, data sheets, lesson plans and training so they can teach students how to collect data about the health of waterways. It also provides an online database where students can enter and analyze the information they gathered.
“What’s special about StreamWebs is it’s a way for teachers to extend students’ field experience into the classroom,” said the program’s coordinator, Renee O’Neill.
Between August 2014 and July 2015, more than 350 students participated in the program and more than 70 educators were trained on how to use the resources that StreamWebs provides, O’Neill said. During that same period, StreamWebs loaned scientific testing equipment 650 times to educators.
The equipment, contained in plastic totes, can be checked out online and picked up from the Oregon Sea Grant (OSG) office in Corvallis or the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Each tote—called a kit—addresses specific learning objectives.There’s a kit with equipment to measure the temperature, pH, turbidity and dissolved oxygen of water. There’s another with measuring tapes, ropes and soil augers so kids can document the vegetation in a designated space and characterize the soil along riparian areas. Tubs of rubber boots and clipboards can even be checked out.
Lesson plans and handouts for recording data are available on the StreamWebs website, as are two new videos produced by OSG that show how to use the kits for studying water quality and macroinvertebrates.
The kit the girls at Rock Creek are using is the one for collecting macroinvertebrates, such as caddisflies, mayflies, crayfish, snails and water striders. The girls are being instructed by Guillermo Giannico, a fish ecology and watershed specialist with OSG Extension and a researcher with Oregon State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. They bring their catch to a card table propped among the streambank rocks, and use hand lenses and an identification sheet to name what they’ve caught.
“I got a stonefly nymph,” one girl exclaims, pointing at the tiny animal’s distinctive tail appendages—and then: “I got another stonefly! I am the queen of stoneflies!”
Once back at a computer, students can upload their findings onto the StreamWebs website so that they and others—including the public—can analyze the health of various watersheds over time.
“The site makes it more like doing real- life science,” said Emmet Whittaker, a science teacher at Lebanon High School who uses StreamWebs in his classroom. “[Students] see how the data can be used over time [and] how they can be shared with other scientists.”
On the website, an interactive map of the state pinpoints where data have been collected. For example, clicking on the pinpoint for D River shows that students at Taft High School in Lincoln City recorded an average pH of 5.9 on Nov. 18, 2014, and 6.76 on May 23, 2016. Site names are also listed alphabetically from Agate Beach to the Zigzag River.
Since the program’s inception, 850 people have created accounts on the website, O’Neill said. Between August 2015 and July 2016, about 120 people contributed data, 503 data sheets were uploaded, and 41 new locations were entered, she said.
Based on a press release written by Kym Pokorny, August 2016, and edited by Ann Marie Murphy
My best friend and I would head to her house after school for a clandestine snack: a frozen Twinkie –maybe an occasional Ding Dong – and grape juice. Neither were in my family’s pantry, so it always felt like an extra special treat. 4-H kids in Union County would not approve of my youthful snacking habits and they likely would try to persuade the younger me to switch to healthier foods.
As part of a project for their 4-H club called Students Now Advocating to Create (Healthy Snacking) Zones, or SNACZ, club members wanted to create healthy “snack zones.” The students worked with six “corner stores” to have some chips, candy and other high-fat, high-sugar foods replaced with nutritious foods.
The SNACZ program provides youth with leadership opportunities. In the process, the kids:
Promote healthy snacking among their peers and parents
Advocate for changes in school policies and practices to support healthy snacking
Collaborate with local food store owners to promote healthy snacks in the stores
“In light of the obesity and diabetes crisis in this country, we felt like this was an important role for the kids to play, especially in our rural communities,” said David Melville, Oregon State University Extension Service 4-H program coordinator in Union County.
The kids, who are in fourth through eighth grade, work with their schools to encourage healthy snacks at fundraisers, classroom parties and concession stands. Unlike school cafeterias, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition guidelines don’t apply to those situations.
Led by 4-H leaders and program staff, the students spoke to teachers, store owners and at school board meetings to get the project up and running. They promoted the program with coupons, tastings, giveaways and contests.
“We wanted to be involved, to do something for the kids’ sake,” said Robbyn Ludwig, co-owner of Elgin Store where one of the SNACZ zones was installed. “A lot of junk goes out with kids, so it’s nice to have the stores involved in trying to get them to eat healthier.”
Nancy Findholt, professor at the Oregon Health & Science University school of nursing, has been researching the factors that influence childhood obesity in Union County for 12 years. She’s found that the corner stores, which are close to schools, were frequently visited by students during breaks and after school to buy unhealthy snacks.
“Schools and nearby stores have a strong influence on kids’ eating habits, said Findholt, who heads up the project that’s funded by a grant through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “We wanted to turn it around and make those habits healthy, so we decided to get the kids involved in outreach and try to bring about changes.”
Snacking has become increasingly common among children. In the 1970s, children consumed an average of one snack a day, according to Findholt. Today, they are consuming nearly three snacks a day, and snacking now accounts for about 27 percent of children’s daily calories. Not all snacking is bad, though. Young children should eat small amounts throughout the day to keep up their energy level. The same holds true for active older children.
“Unfortunately, most of the snack foods and beverages that children consume are high in saturated fat, sugar and salt, but low in in nutrients,” Melville said.
Though she is in the earlier stages of measuring the program’s impact, Findholt has already found promising results. Surveys of teachers showed a trend toward healthier snacks as classroom rewards, and their knowledge of nutrition has increased compared to schools in a control group
“We were hoping to see improvements in classroom rewards, but hadn’t anticipated the effect on teachers’ nutrition knowledge,” she said. “It was exciting to see that teachers had learned about nutrition from their students’ advocacy efforts.”
Healthy snacks are promoted by Union County elementary and middle school students in Cove, Elgin, Imbler, North Powder and Union. The program wraps up this summer.
Working in partnership with communities is essential to the mission and goals of University Outreach and Engagement. So essential, in fact, that three of the Division’s five strategic goals mention community. A prize awaits the first person to correctly identify and post them in the comments below. But more than that, what are new ways to engage our communities that we should begin planning for in the next legislative biennium? Scott wants your ideas.
The Oregon State University Extension Service, in partnership with the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC), once again has put together a series of courses to assist Oregon’s commissioners, judges and other elected officials in learning the ins and outs of county government.
County College is a bi-annual continuing education opportunity for county commissioners and other county elected officials. Beginning in 2006, OSU Extension and the Association of Oregon Counties have designed the program to help newly elected and experienced county officials successfully navigate government systems, issues and programs.
Developed at the request of commissioners wanting a comprehensive curriculum dealing with county issues, the course is voluntary and participants receive a certification of completion. The practical outcomes are a better understanding of the responsibilities and legal obligations of elected officials, professional development, increased effectiveness as a leader, and building a network of experts.
County College consists of 18 instructional blocks, each four hours long. At least fifteen blocks must be completed over the course of a year to receive certification. Each session focuses on a different aspect important to the success of county government. Subjects range from the structure of county government, government ethics law, managing and avoiding risks, leadership and management, human services, public safety, county finance and community development to learning about how counties work in partnership with the OSU Extension Service to better serve residents.
The first three-day session will be held at Oregon State University beginning January 19-21. Five additional sessions will to be held throughout the year tentatively scheduled for Salem, Yamhill County and Wasco County.
As reported in the Metro Connection December e-newsletter
Oregon State University Extension staff will play a major role in creating a research-based guide that is intended to help urban communities across the nation address poverty, hunger, social justice issues and homelessness.
Patrick Proden, OSU O&E regional administrator for the Metro Region, and Stacey Sowders, 4-H Outreach Coordinator and Multnomah County leader for OSU Extension, will leverage their contribution to the Rural Community Issues Guide by extending their research to urban areas.
Population shifts to urban centers
When the Cooperative Extension Service was created, less than 20 percent of the nation’s population lived in urban environments. Now that number exceeds 80 percent, with a resulting increase in complex social and environmental issues such as:
Degraded water quality
Poor air quality
Limited food access
*100 different languages are spoken in one school district in Portland, Oregon
Working in partnership with universities in Alaska, Washington, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, OSU is leading the research-based effort in the Portland metro area. To gather community information, several methods will be employed: concern gathering sessions, surveys, even knocking on doors for face-to-face conversations. The most pressing and wicked challenges will be identified. As issues are named and framed, a guide will be developed to create additional deliberation and dialogue in communities throughout the states involved.
Conducting thorough research, though challenging, is essential to gathering accurate information. Walking through neighborhoods to talk with residents, reaching out to new partners, tapping traditional allies like the Oregon Food Bank, and working closely with arts and humanities organizations and local nonprofits will be utilized to reach a more varied audience.
OSU Extension staff will lead discussions to help communities define their problems and figure out what they need to address them. “People know what their burning issues are, but they don’t always know where to go to get the issues addressed,” said Proden. “The planned forums will help communities convene, identify leaders to hear concerns and work to make progress on the issues.” Naming and framing issues in this manner encourages citizen participation and breaks down barriers, turning personal vision into action.
To dig deep into a community’s challenges, questions asked by moderators during concern gathering sessions include: What concerns you about this issue? Given those concerns, what would you do about it? If that worked to ease your concern, what are the downsides or trade-offs you might then have to accept?
Opportunities for OSU Extension
Not only will the research effort help communities come together to identify common goals, OSU Extension also will identify service gaps where it makes sense to have Extension step in and offer the resources of OSU.
While conducting community discussions in September 2016 for the rural guide in Corbett, Oregon, a small town east of Portland where OSU Extension’s work is primarily centered on 4-H, residents indicated they wanted support for urban agriculture focused on markets, small businesses and mediation. With Extension’s considerable expertise in community agriculture, such as Master Gardeners, and personal development offerings such as financial literacy classes, Extension is poised to help the community address their community vitality priorities.
The Kettering Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching social issues and making democracy accessible to all people, will publish the urban communities issue guide. The Kettering Foundation believes democracy requires a community, or a society of citizens, that can work together. The foundation researches the way citizens face persistent problems in their communities. These problems, such as poverty, violence, and gaps in educational achievement, require citizens, communities, and institutions to work together to address them (source: Kettering Foundation website).
“People are disconnected from civic engagement and discourse,” said Proden, “which makes our efforts to engage all communities paramount. It’s all about having conversations which lead to action. At the same time we introduce democracy to people who may never before have had an opportunity to participate.
“Extension has an important role to play by helping build a transformative movement, with the goal of shaping new people-centered and community-centered policies based on the principles of equity and justice.” To learn more about the project, view Urban Communities Re-Imagined, presented by Patrick Proden and Dr. Angela Allan, University of Wisconsin-Extension.
[Editor’s note: Sometimes OSU’s outreach and engagement work impacts a local community, or perhaps the state. In the case of Food Hero, it is impacting the health and well-being of people across the nation, thanks to the work of SNAP-Ed.]
The key to low-income family nutrition might just not be building a supermarket in a food desert. The Oregon State University Extension Service launched a social marketing program, Food Hero, in 2009, to encourage healthy eating among low-income Oregonians.
Medical.net reports on two new research studies from Oregon State University. “The success of the program is by far exceeding the scope of what we envisioned when we started,” said Melinda Manore, a professor of nutrition in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU and co-author of the studies. “Getting people to change their diet and eating behavior, especially when they do not have much money, is very difficult, and this program is helping to do that.”
So what are they doing that’s changing behaviors?
One study published in the journal, Nutrients, explains how Food Hero was developed and tested. The goal was to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among those eligible for SNAP benefits in Oregon, with a particular focus on low-income mothers. The strategy includes providing clearly focused messages, writing in plain language, being positive and realistic with the messaging, and offering simple tools for action that include an explanation of what to do and how to do it.
The other study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, examines Food Hero’s recipe project. The recipes used in the Food Hero campaign are formulated to be healthy, tasty and kid-friendly. To date, the Food Hero recipes have been accessed millions of times via the website and social media sites such as Pinterest.
Lauren Tobey of the Extension Family and Community Health at OSU, leads the program and explained: “All of the recipes are simple to make and cost-effective for families on tight budgets. Many families can’t afford to have a recipe fail or try an untested recipe the family may not end up liking.”
The recipes have been tested with more than 20,000 children who complete surveys or participate in a vote. If at least 70 percent of participating children say they “like the taste” of a recipe, it is considered “kid-approved.” A little over one-third of the tested recipes have received the “kid-approved” rating to date.
To learn more and/or subscribe to Food Hero Monthly, an electronic magazine that includes recipes and tips, click here.
Food Hero is a collaboration with the Department of Human Services, Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority.
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Many OSU Extension programs expand community capacity to help address a critical local or statewide need. A prime example of this is the Seed to Supper program, a partnership between OSU Extension and the Oregon Food Bank.
The poverty rate in Oregon – 16.2% – remains above the national average and more than 600,000 Oregonians lived below the poverty line, an official definition that some believe is outdated and underestimates what it takes to truly make ends meet. Personally, I can’t imagine a family of four making ends meet with a household income of $24,230. According to a 2015 Oregon Center for Public Policy fact sheet, poverty is higher than in the 2007–2009 Great Recession. Children and communities of color are more likely to live in poverty.
The goal of Seed to Supper is increased food security of low-income audiences by providing training in beginning vegetable gardening. In other words, helping people learn to grow their own food to stretch limited budgets and increase access to healthy, low-cost foods.
Seed to Supper is a series of five or six free vegetable gardening classes offered in English and Spanish and taught by Extension-trained Master Gardeners or those with a strong horticultural background. The number of people attending Seed to Supper classes is well on its way to reaching 1,000. Course topics include garden site and soil development, garden planning, planting, garden care, harvesting, and container gardening. Participants learn where to get free and reduced-cost soil, compost, seeds, starts, trellis materials, mulch, tools, garden space and OSU Extension gardening publications.
Seed to Supper classes must be offered free of charge to all participants and program guidelines indicate classes should be hosted by community-based agencies that serve primarily a low-income audience.
Started in Linn and Benton counties, the program has expanded around the state and most recently was adopted by Yamhill County. Survey data from the first cohort indicates that 92% reported a reduction in their food bill and an 80% increase in consumption of vegetables. Having developed a garden in a 12-by-12-foot community garden plot, I know how empowering it is – accompanied by a great sense of satisfaction – to create a meal from the fruits (so to speak) of my labor.
“I absolutely loved this class! It is such an amazing resource . . . It gave me confidence and know-how to really give a vegetable garden a go for the first time and I plan to continue it.”
“Almost every meal has had food from our garden.”
“My granddaughter and I now do some gardening together . . .”
“[Seed to Supper] gives people a sense of control over their food sources.”