An Outreach and Engagement partnership is being built one step at a time with the League of Oregon Cities (LOC). LOC is a governmental entity formed by an intergovernmental agreement by Oregon’s incorporated cities (a direct quote from the LOC website). Founded in 1925, LOC works with its member cities to help local government better serve the citizens of Oregon. Introduced to LOC by Vince Adams and Lena Etuk through their work on the Rural Communities Explorer, Scott Reed, Lindsey Shirley and Patrick Proden, metro region administrator, continue to deepen the relationship.
The results so far? Sponsorship of the League of Oregon Cities’ 2016 conference and an article in the October 2016 issue of Local Focus, their monthly magazine. The issue focused on how universities – Oregon State University, Portland State University and University of Oregon – are helping Oregon cities. Proden and Maureen Quinn, Extension Family and Community Health Program, attended the late-September conference on behalf of University Outreach and Engagement, both indicating it was well worth their time to attend.
The article, titled “OSU Extension Service: Helping Communities Envision and Create a Better Future,” was collaboratively written with Patrick Proden. It was an exercise in squeezing the substantial, 100-year story of Extension and its impact in Oregon into a mere 1,500 meaningful words (plus a few pictures and a graphic).
By Mark Floyd, News and Research Communications, Oregon State University
Editor’s Note: A lot of fascinating work is being done by Extension faculty. This is one story that might surprise you. Be sure to watch the mesmerizing video! Leigh Torres, Oregon SeaGrant Extension, specializes in the spatial and behavioral ecology of marine megafauna including marine mammals, seabirds and sharks. The following was distributed to news media on October 4, 2016.
A lot of people think what Leigh Torres has done this summer and fall would qualify her for a spot on one of those “World’s Worst Jobs” lists.
After all, the Oregon State University marine ecologist follows gray whales from a small inflatable boat in the rugged Pacific Ocean and waits for them to, well, poop. Then she and her colleagues have about 20-30 seconds to swoop in behind the animal with a fine mesh net and scoop up some of the prized material before it drifts to the ocean floor.
Mind you, gray whales can reach a length of more than 40 feet and weigh more than 30 tons, making the retrieval of their daily constitutional somewhat daunting. Yet Torres, a principal investigator in the university’s Marine Mammal Institute, insists that it really isn’t that bad.
“We’re just looking for a few grams of material and to be honest, it doesn’t even smell that bad,” she said. “Now, collecting a DNA sample from a whale’s blow-hole – that’s a bad job. Their breath is horrendous.”
Being a marine pooper-scooper isn’t some strange fetish for the Oregon State research team. They are conducting a pilot project to determine how gray whales respond to ocean noise – both natural and human – and whether these noises cause physiological stress in the animals. Technology is changing the way the researchers are approaching their study.
“New advances in biotechnology allow us to use the fecal samples to look at a range of things that provide clues to the overall health and stress of the whales,” Torres said. “We can look at their hormone levels and genetically identify individual whales, their sex and whether they are pregnant. And we can analyze their prey and document what they’ve been eating.
“Previously, we would have to do a biopsy to learn some of these things and though they can be done safely, you typically don’t repeat the procedure often because it’s invasive,” she added. “Here, we can follow individual whales over a four-month feeding season and pick up multiple samples that can tell us changes in their health.”
The study is a pilot project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Acoustics Program to determine the impacts of noise on whale behavior and health. Torres, who works out of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, focuses on gray whales because they are plentiful and close to shore.
“Many marine mammals are guided by acoustics and use sound to locate food, to navigate, to communicate with one another and to find a mate,” said Torres, a faculty member in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and an ecologist with the Oregon Sea Grant program.
Ten years ago, such a study would not have been possible, Torres acknowledged. In addition to new advances in genetic and hormone analyses, the OSU team uses a drone to fly high above the whales. It not only detects when they defecate, it is giving them unprecedented views of whale behavior.
“We are seeing things through the drone cameras that we have never seen before,” Torres said. “Because of the overhead views, we now know that whales are much more agile in their feeding. We call them ‘bendy’ whales because they make such quick, sharp turns when feeding. These movements just can’t be seen from the deck of a ship.”
The use of small, underwater Go-Pro cameras allows them to observe what the whales are feeding upon below. The researchers can identify zooplankton, benthic invertebrates, and fish in the water column near feeding whales, and estimate abundance – helping them understand what attracts the whales to certain habitats.
Joe Haxel and Sharon Nieukirk are acoustic scientists at the Hatfield center who are assisting with the project. They deploy drifting hydrophones near the whales to record natural and human sounds, help operate the overhead drone camera that monitors the whales’ behavior, and also get in on the fecal analysis.
“Gray whales are exposed to a broad range of small- and medium-sized boat traffic that includes sport fishing and commercial fleets,” Haxel said. “Since they are very much a coastal species, their exposure to anthropogenic noise is pretty high. That said, the nearshore environment is already very noisy with natural sounds including wind and breaking surf, so we’re trying to suss out some of the space and time patterns in noise levels in the range of habitats where the whales are found.”
It will take years for the researchers to learn how ocean noise affects whale behavior and health, but as ocean noises continue increasing – through ship traffic, wave energy projects, sonar use, seismic surveys and storms – the knowledge they gain may be applicable to many whale species, Torres said.
And the key to this baseline study takes a skilled, professional pooper-scooper.
“When a whale defecates, it generates this reddish cloud and the person observing the whale usually screams “POOP!” and we spring into action,” Torres said. “It’s a moment of excitement, action – and also sheer joy. I know that sounds a little weird, but we have less than 30 seconds to get in there and scoop up some of that poop that may provide us with a biological gold mine of information that will help protect whales into the future.
Healthy communities are important to our quality of life. Vince Adams, extension educator and coordinator of the Rural Communities Explorer (RCE), joined Scott for this month’s First Monday video. RCE is a web-based tool that provides demographic and economic indicators about all–rural and urban–communities in Oregon and should be used by Extension and community leaders as a resource to identify areas of community strengths and challenges. Vince announced that a new more intuitive RCE interface will launch at the end of October.
Let us know how you have used RCE in your community work by commenting on the blog.
Congratulations to Marilyn Lesmeister for sharing her thoughts on innovation on the O&E blog. The Innovator’s Dilemma, by bestseller author Clayton Christensen, will be heading her way. Thank you, too, to the others that shared how they focus on innovation. Click here to read all the comments.
Oregon State University’s distance education program has been named the nation’s best online college in terms of value by ValueColleges.com, an organization that provides in-depth analysis and rankings on affordability and quality in higher education.
Oregon State Ecampus ranks first on a list of the Top 50 Best Value Online Colleges for 2017. The rankings assess online bachelor’s programs based on tuition costs, reputability, and return on investment using data from the website Payscale.com.
In its evaluation, the organization noted that Ecampus delivers the most online undergraduate major and minor programs in Oregon, and that OSU is a leader in STEM research and boasts the Carnegie Foundation’s highest research activity classification.
“This ranking speaks to our mission to provide learners with access to a high-quality Oregon State education,” said Ecampus Executive Director Lisa L. Templeton. “The value comes in the form of highly engaging programs that give our students opportunities for career advancement.”
All Ecampus students pay the same tuition rate no matter where they live. Ecampus serves adult learners in all 50 states and more than 40 countries by delivering 21 undergraduate degrees and 27 graduate programs online.
During the 2015-16 academic year, more than 19,000 OSU students took at least one Ecampus class.
Oregon State has developed a reputation as a leader in online education, having been ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report each of the past two years. In 2014, Ecampus won the Online Learning Consortium’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching – one of the industry’s most prestigious awards.
Two days on the road in Central Oregon with more than 50 new OSU faculty confined to a bus can be a daunting prospect. But the team that planned the tour, led by Jeff Sherman, pulled it off with aplomb.
As part of the Engagement Academy of University Outreach and Engagement, a special initiative of the division, the fourth Roads Scholar cohort hit the road before 8 a.m. on September 12, 2016. Faculty new to OSU or new to engagement work from across the university were exposed to the outreach and engagement philosophy of OSU and to the work of Extension in Central Oregon and the Central Oregon Agricultural Research Center (COARC).
At this writing, I am 11-months new to outreach and engagement work and have spent much of that time attempting to internalize and deeply understand what it means to engage communities. As the communication and marketing manager for the Division of University Outreach and Engagement, I spend most of my time trying to tell the story of engagement work, so I was eager listen and learn.
The tour reinforced the fact that outreach and engagement is not a unilateral act. The “expert model” isn’t the way to engage. Rather, the listening and learning part, essential to building trust and relationships, is just as important as the knowledge part of the equation.
At COARC, in addition to learning that the seeds that grow virtually every carrot we eat likely come from Oregon, we heard how central Oregon farmers want better ways to minimize water usage – irrigation changed what can be grown in the region, but with only 11 inches of rain a year, water resources are scarce. COARC is there to test new crops and production methods protecting the farmers and ranchers from risking their incomes and field productivity. That’s a big value to the area; so big, the farmers and ranchers help fund the work of the center.
Heading north to the Warms Springs Indian Reservation, we learned a few – many? – cultural lessons. At the Museum of Warm Springs, we heard from tribal members about the state of education of the tribe’s children, reservation and ceded lands for hunting and gathering of traditional foods, and first nation traditional foods, their importance to ceremonial occasions and threats to availability and access. We even were able to taste the foods (dried bitterroot is surprisingly tasty!). Schooling for K-8 is available on reservation; high school students must travel great distances to attend classes (sadly, graduation rates are below 30 percent). Credit for learning tribal language isn’t available because the Indian elders teaching the courses don’t have the required teaching certification.
In 1855, Joel Palmer, superintendent for the Oregon Territory, received his orders to clear the Indians from the land they had lived on for more than 10,000 years. He did so by negotiating a series of Indian treaties including the one establishing the Warm Springs Reservation. Under the treaty, the Warm Springs and Wasco tribes relinquished approximately ten million acres of land, but reserved the Warm Springs Reservation for their exclusive use. The tribes also kept their rights to harvest fish, game and other foods off the reservation in their usual and accustomed places. Later the Paiutes joined the confederation. Not surprisingly, the way of life of the tribes changed dramatically, and holding onto spiritual and cultural traditions continues to be hard fought. (Source: The Confederated Tribes of Warms Springs)
Hearing the words “we are a conquered people” was sobering. The immediate impulse is to swoop in with solutions, but that isn’t the way of engagement. Extension has worked with the community for years, building the trust necessary to help with nutrition and food safety, rebuild gardening skills for access to fresh fruits and vegetables, manage tribal forests, encourage commercial enterprises, and more.
After a night of luxuriating in a salmon feast, watching young tribal dancers and listening to cultural myths around the wood-burning fire – coyote finds himself in many ticky situations – at Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, we headed to Bend for the opening of the OSU – Cascade Campus.
The final leg of the journey, not counting the beautiful ride back to campus later in the day, included learning about the Upper Deschutes River Coalition (navigating the 4-H high ropes course, or learning about food preservation, gardening and greenhouse, or Juntos were other options). The mission of the coalition is to protect upper Deschutes River communities by restoring and sustaining healthy fire-resistant forests, pure and abundant river flows and wildlife habitat.
OSU Extension, one of many coalition stakeholders, provides access to OSU research, which helps coalition members make decisions about forest management practices, and educates the community about what users are seeing in their managed forest forays. The outreach takes the form of traditional brochures and less traditional beer labels and coasters. Nicole Strong, Extension forester, professor of practice and coalition member, invited other coalition members to share with the Roads Scholars their roles and the importance of the group’s work. It was a proud moment to learn about the crucial and creative role Nicole and OSU play in the coalition.
Last year’s Roads Scholar cohort went to the coast. Where will next year’s tour participants head? Stay tuned…and take advantage of the opportunity!
PS: One of the best parts about being a Roads Scholar this year was the impromptu discussions that took place on the bus. It’s not often one is surround by such interesting people from so many different disciplines, so it was a great pleasure to learn about the outreach and engagement work being done by those on the tour. Another best part was the traditional fry bread and huckleberry jam! Of course the succulent salmon – crusty bits on the outside and buttery on the inside – was wonderful, too.
Written by Charles Robinson, University Outreach and Engagement special initiatives, including Extension Reconsidered and Engagement Academy
Art has the ability to connect people, share knowledge and experiences, and serve communities. Teaching art at a land grant university means getting off campus, experiencing the landscape and connecting with Oregonians. And that is especially true for students participating in the Creative Coast as part of ART 406-Community Arts Studio.
In 2014 and 2015, Community Arts Studio students and others headed to the forest. In 2015 and 2016, ART 406 headed to the Oregon coast to take part in the State of the Coast conference and learn about the Marine Studies Initiative.
Creative Coast students from the OSU Art, Music and Theater programs visited Cape Perpetua over two Saturdays in the 2016 Spring term as part of the joint partnership between the College of Liberal Arts and the Division of University Outreach and Engagement. Engagement with Oregon’s people and landscape is a guiding principle of the College of Liberal Arts, and art is a powerful means to realize that educational and social purpose.
On the first Saturday, students learned the cultural history of Cape Perpetua from local historian Joanna Kittel. They also heard the poignant and tragic real-life story of Amanda, as told by Don “Doc” Slyter of Coos Bay, an elder of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indian Tribes. Amanda was a blind first-nations woman who was forced to walk over the rocky terrain of Cape Perpetua on her way to the sub-Alsea reservation at Yachats, where she later died. Mr. Slyter played a moving musical piece on his flute for the students, titled “Amanda.”
OSU Extension Service partners at Cape Perpetua and the U.S. Forest Service Rangers also aided students with their research by taking the students on natural history tours of the Cape Perpetua area. The tours enhanced the students’ understanding of the relationship the forest has to the ocean and allowed them to explore the tide pools.
Art student Auna Godinez responded to the story of Amanda and recreated part of the walk by walking 1.5 miles in bare feet to the Cape Perpetua lookout. Back on campus, she planned to create a painting of Doc Slyter playing his flute combined with a dream-like narrative-image of the story of Amanda.
Likewise, student Hanna Gallagher also responded to Doc’s story about the forced movement of the first nations people. She chose to respond by researching Native American basket weaving and, during her second visit to the coast, wove a basket from stalks of grass.
Video artists Courtney Kaneshiro, Courtney Mullis and Victoria Rivoire worked on a collaborative video project using editing techniques to weave together images of the ocean tide pools with images from the forest. They also created a unique soundscape to accompany the video.
Students in Anna Fidler’s foundation arts class chose to work with sea water to create dye-effects on fabric. Back on campus, they planned to add a crochet element to the artwork.
Reaching beyond the boundaries of the Corvallis campus provides vital inspiration for novel ways to integrate Oregon landscapes into student creative and community projects, and to provide guided access and practice for building the collaborative relationships so crucial to community work.
As Scott Reed, Vice Provost of University Outreach and Engagement points out with an observation by Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” The Creative Coast and courses like Community Arts Studio offer students an opportunity to see with new eyes and share their inspiration with others.
The first Monday – actually Tuesday – video features Scott talking about innovation. How do you bring innovation into your work? And what might need to drop off your plate in order to deliver innovative solutions to the people of Oregon? Share your comments and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a book from one of Scott’s favorite authors mentioned in the video.
In a small conference room at Portland Community College’s Southeast campus, a dozen middle school students turned a pile of wood into a 12-foot sailboat.
The feat was accomplished by members of the Oregon State University Extension Service’s Makers 4-H club, which was formed in 2014 to give kids in Southeast Portland a chance to participate in an after-school program in an area where few existed.
The students built the boat under the tutelage of staff from partner Wind & Oar Boat School. In the process, they put new skills to work helping to design and engineer the boat. Construction started in September 2015 and wrapped up in January. The boat was launched Aug. 13 at Willamette Sailing Club.
“Each week they got to explore nautical terminology, buoyancy, lofting, angular design and marine architecture,” said Stacey Sowders, Extension 4-H outreach coordinator. “We intended to give them new experiences, which we expected to increase their self-confidence.”
Raxlee Rax, who is about to start his freshman year at Franklin High School, said it worked for him. “I really think this program has boosted my confidence toward building something or designing something or making something happen. And I think it will spill over into other parts of my life.”
Typically, extracurricular programs are held at school sites. Because the Makers 4-H club is on the PCC campus, it can pull students from several middle schools in the area, allowing them to connect with new kids and adults. Being on campus also increases their chance of going to college, according to Sowders.
“Bringing someone in to talk about their college and career experiences to the kids is one thing,” she said. “But if they get to walk on a college campus they can see themselves there.”
Dani IV, a 14-year-old who participated in the boat-building project, said she’s more prepared for college now and appreciates that much of what she learned will help guide her to schools that have good programs in science, technology, engineering and math. Someday she’d like to be an engineer.
Most of the kids in the Makers club don’t have access to STEM-oriented activities, said Tanya Kindrachuk, Extension club coordinator and a former 4-H member. She’s watched the middle-school students respond with enthusiasm to the boat-building project as well as one designing a computer game.
“I feel like they’re having a blast or they wouldn’t show up, and pretty much all the kids show up every time,” she said. “If I had this when I was in middle school, I would have loved it. I’m having a blast now at 20 years old.”
Parents and siblings also get to experience some of the fun. During the Friday sessions, they come to see the latest developments and ask questions. It’s a time for the kids to connect with family, proudly showcase the work they’re doing and show off their new skills, Kindrachuck said.
For this school year, Sowders is considering a Makers club activity involving computers and programming. For now, Sowders is still assessing the impact of the boat-building project.
“The biggest success was when Dani’s mom told me she bought Dani a bookcase and asked her if she wanted help putting it together. And Dani said, ‘No, I know how to do this and I’ve used all these tools,’ Sowders said.
“I wanted the kids to learn new skills, but even more to learn how to meet challenges,” she added. “I don’t care if they remember how to build a boat, but I want them to go away feeling empowered to meet challenges.
I am Ricardo Perez and I am the 2016 PROMISE intern for Outreach and Engagement, Open Campus. I am entering my junior year here at Oregon State University studying Business Management with an option in International Business. After hearing about the large professional development growth the previous PROMISE interns had, I decided to apply to the program in hopes of obtaining the same skills.
Having the opportunity to be mentored by Jeff Sherman, the program leader for Open Campus, has been far from boring. Jeff gave me the tools necessary to evolve into a more competent individual in the business world. Through my experience, Jeff instructed me on programming logistics, how to use project management software, how to communicate with community partners and he gave me the freedom to create new projects.
I would also like to mention Hollie Conger. Hollie is in charge of marketing and communications for Open Campus. Hollie greatly influenced my experience and positively impacted my marketing skills. Through our work, Hollie showed me how to manage social media accounts, edit video, maintain the website and use Adobe Illustrator.
My experience as an intern would not have been the same if it were not for these individuals. Being able to intern for people who create an engaging and energizing environment made my time as an intern the best it could be. The support they gave me and the skills I acquired have truly impacted my professional development.
My main project was to organize the 2016 Roads Scholar Engagement Tour. The main goal for The Roads Scholar Tour is to invite newer faculty and employees who are new to engagement, to gain a sense for community engagement and to form relationships with colleagues who do similar work. This year’s tour is located in Central Oregon, with stops in Warm Springs, Redmond, and Bend. Having the opportunity to construct The Roads Scholar Tour and collaborate with so many members has enhanced my communication skills and prepared me for a career in business.
Along with planning The Roads Scholar Engagement Tour, I was involved in small projects for the Juntos program. Through this experience, I had the opportunity to work with Ana Gomez, the main coordinator for Juntos. Working with Ana made this experience so fun and exciting! Seeing someone who is so passionate in helping others really sparked my fascination with the program. Through my experience, I learned how Juntos works to empower families around education, is constructed to prevent youth from dropping out of high school and encourages families to work together to gain access to college. My main project for Juntos was planning the 2017 Family Day, an event where families have an opportunity to visit the OSU campus and learn more about the different resources available.
It is hard to believe that my journey as an intern is more than half way complete. My experience here at Outreach and Engagement, Open Campus has been one I will never forget. The amount of professional, as well as personal growth I developed is something I never thought would happen in a short 10 weeks.
I am honored to interact with people who truly enjoy positively impacting the Oregon community. I would like to give thanks to my mentors who have shown me the immense impact Outreach and Engagement has, as well as preparing me for the professional world. Jeff, Hollie, Ana, and Pam, thank you for all your hard work and for providing me the best experience possible at Outreach and Engagement.
How do you touch the lives of the people that you meet?
This is a question I find myself asking pretty frequently. My whole life I have known that I wanted to enter a career field where I could continually touch the lives of those around me. So when I found an internship that did just that, I knew it would be a perfect fit for me.
My name is Emalee Rabinovitch and I am about to graduate from Oregon State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Public Health and Education. One of my final tasks here at OSU was to find an internship that aligned with the same values and outcomes as my degree. After doing a bit of searching, I came across the PROMISE Program.
The PROMISE Program is a 10-week internship experience that provides opportunities in state and local government agencies, as well as university programs for Oregon State University undergraduate students. These internships are intended to provide students a pathway to a professional career with an emphasis on helping underrepresented students.
After acceptance into the program, PROMISE coordinators set up a number of interviews for students to find an internship site that best understands their career aspirations and needs. On April 26, 2016, I received an email from one of the coordinators saying I received a joint offer from the Division of University Outreach and Engagement and OSU Extension Service Coast Region.
Before I knew it I was set up and ready to go in Ballard Extension Hall on campus.
My first week consisted of getting to know the new faces around me while diving head-first into what Extension was all about. My main project is to create a one-page, double-sided marketing tool template to inform readers about how Extension is influencing the lives of community members in Oregon’s counties.
The goal is to create a customizable marketing tool for each county and region to inform more people about the resources provided through their local Extension offices. Starting with Clatsop County, I visited the office in Astoria and met their very welcoming staff members saw the work they were doing. By visiting the county, I was able to see the impact these programs have on the members of the community and the positive changes being made.
The best way I can describe this overall journey is that it is an internship within an internship. I not only was provided with one learning experience through sessions with my PROMISE team, but I also was provided with an experience here at University Outreach and Engagement that allows me to grow as a professional and individual, as well as creating lasting workplace relationships.
This program is unique because it allowed me to gain not one, but several excellent mentors who helped me reach my goals and provided me with excellent resources for my future. One of the mentors I found myself looking to was Ann Murphy, communication and marketing manager for University Outreach and Engagement. I met Ann for the first time during my interview for the position back in April and could tell immediately she had a great sense of creativity and dedication.
Eric Dunker, Regional Administrator for the Coast Region, has been an outstanding mentor in this process as well. I admire Eric’s passion to get out there and be hands-on in order to give the communities what they need. I saw this in both Eric and Ann while getting to know them professionally and personally in these past 10 weeks. Both are extremely driven individuals who want to make a difference and educate people about what Extension Service has to offer. I feel very fortunate to have met these two and to have had the chance to be mentored by them. They taught me much more than they signed up for and provided me with excellent resources as I graduate and enter the “real world.”
After learning so much about the Division, it brought me back to asking: “How do you touch the lives of the people that you meet?” University Outreach and Engagement and Extension Service do this every day.
I never knew 10 weeks could go by so fast, but in my time being here I was able to see incredible staff members make positive changes in the communities and people they cared for. The programs offered are directly touching the lives of neighbors, friends, local business owners and many more, as well as letting local stakeholders be involved in the decision making process.
Each faculty member touches the lives of those they interact with and had a significant influence in making my time here great. As I go on in my future endeavors, I hope to educate more people about Extension resources and how they can benefit everyone involved.
I may be just an intern, but after this experience I feel like I have the necessary tools in my toolbox to go out into society and touch the lives of those around me because of what I have learned from my time here at University Outreach and Engagement.
To learn more about the PROMISE program, click this link.