Fall 2017 will see the launch of new state-funded outdoor schools administered by OSU Extension Service. Susan Sahnow, interim Outdoor School director, shares with Vice Provost Scott Reed what it means for OSU Extension Service.
Share a memorable outdoor school experience—or a profound experience you’ve had in the great outdoors—in the comment section below.
OSU graduate Madelaine Corbin was in the Community Art Studio Class and participated in the Extension Reconsidered Creative Oregon series. Part of the groundwork for “The Mobile Color Laboratory” came from conversations Creative Coast activities in Newport and elsewhere with OSU Master Gardeners.
As they are every year at this time [in June], the walls of Oregon State University’s Fairbanks Gallery are adorned with the thesis projects of graduating art majors.
But this year’s  show has something different: Parked in the middle of the floor is a 4-by-8-foot flatbed utility trailer holding four galvanized planters filled with colorful flowers.
It’s the latest iteration of “The Mobile Color Laboratory: A Natural Pigment and Dye Garden,” an evolving project that has become something of an obsession for Madelaine Corbin, who will graduate from OSU on Saturday with a bachelor of fine arts degree.
Displayed in the midst of a gallery, it clearly appears to be a work of art — but its homely materials and functional design just as clearly mark it as part of the workaday world.
For Corbin, that’s kind of the point.
“The idea is really to try and experiment with community engagement, art and horticulture, see where those boundaries are (and) open up those boundaries between art and community and campus life,” she said. “That’s why it’s mobile, because it really exists in those in-between spaces.”
The project had its genesis when Corbin was working in OSU professor Mas Subramanian’s chemistry lab, where she was part of a team that found a way to synthesize a previously unknown blue pigment. Another source of inspiration came when she did a practicum with New York artist Mary Mattingly, who created an edible landscape on a barge that floated through the city’s waterways.
Corbin really liked the idea of taking art out of the gallery and bringing it to the people.
“I started looking at how people could inject color into their everyday lives,” said Corbin, a 2012 Corvallis High graduate. “My project is focused more on color and the origins of color and how we could grow our own.”
An earlier version of the project was built on a repurposed bicycle trailer.
For the current incarnation, Corbin assembled a trailer kit purchased at a local hardware store. She used recycled cedar boards and fence posts for the deck. The plants were grown from donated starts or seeds or bought with donated funds (a “license plate” on the back of the trailer lists the names of the donors). At some point, Corbin says, she may add some PVC hoops and plastic sheeting to turn the whole thing into a rolling greenhouse.
Both versions of “The Mobile Color Lab” are designed to be towed to various sites for art workshops. Corbin has also designed two companion pieces — a field guide to the plants in the lab and a workbook with space for notes, sketches, rubbings and so on — that can be ordered online.
At Corbin’s workshops, participants are encouraged to use plants from the rolling garden in a variety of ways. Some, such as marigolds, sunflowers and dahlias, can be simmered to produce dyes for tinting textiles. Basil is edible, echinacea and chamomile have medicinal properties, and still others — the pasqueflower plant, for instance — have elegantly filigreed leaves that can be pounded onto pretreated cloth in an ancient Japanese printmaking process.
“Part of why this is called a laboratory is because they’re total experiments,” Corbin said. “I have no idea what’s going to happen, and that’s really exciting to me.”
Of course, she could have done it the other way around by setting up workshops in a gallery or art studio and inviting people to attend. But Corbin really liked the idea of taking art out of the gallery and bringing it to the people.
“Sometimes the gallery can be intimidating, and this project really wants to be approachable,” she said.
“And the reversal of that is kind of the same question I have: Why, out in the world, do we not see more things as art? I just love that idea that you’re actually immersed in it all the time and you don’t have to go to a special place to see it.”
After graduation, Corbin will be showing a version of her “Mobile Color Laboratory” at the highly regarded Blackfish Gallery in Portland and starting a job as assistant to the director of Djerassi, a residential retreat for artists in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco.
She’s not sure what direction her own art will take next, but she intends to keep on questioning the assumptions that create artificial barriers between the art world and everyday life.
“That’s kind of the responsibility of an artist is to break out questions and think of them in different ways,” she said.
“I get that way every day. I have so many questions, and if the art is doing that for you, then, oh my God, it’s working!”
Reporter Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.
A new video shows how Oregon students are preparing for technical careers by building underwater robots for an annual competition in which they demonstrate their skills in front of engineers and scientists.
The video, which was produced by Oregon State University with funding from Oregon Sea Grant, was filmed during the 2017 Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition, which Oregon Sea Grant coordinates. It is one of about 30 regional contests around the world in which students qualify for an annual international competition.
“Our goal is to really get students interested in science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — and connect them with marine technicians and engineers and marine scientists that utilize remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs,” Tracy Crews, the manager of Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education program and OSU Extension Service, said in the video.
Thirty-one teams from Oregon participated in this year’s competition, which was held in April at the pool at the Lincoln City Community Center. More than 200 students from elementary school through college demonstrated devices they built.
“For students who struggle with conventional school, it’s a chance for them to really shine,” Melissa Steinman, a teacher at Waldport High School, said in the video.
A new theme is chosen each year. This year’s theme highlighted the role of remotely operated vehicles in monitoring the environment and supporting industries in port cities. Like port managers and marine researchers, the students guided their robots through tasks that simulated identifying cargo containers that fell overboard, repairing equipment, and taking samples of hypothetically contaminated sediment and shellfish. Students also presented marketing materials they created and gave engineering presentations.
“A couple of teams, they just nailed it,” Ken Sexton, one of the judges and owner of The Sexton Corp., said in the video.
Students were also tasked with creating mock companies, thinking like entrepreneurs and working together to “manufacture, market, and sell” their robots. The students gained project management and communication skills as they managed a budget, worked as a team, brainstormed solutions and delivered presentations.
“Some of my team members are really, really good at programming, now,” Natalie DeWitt, a senior at Newport High School, said in the video. “And we have one kid who is really good at using CAD software design, now. And they actually had internships over the summer … those experiences we had in robotics gave us qualifications for jobs that we wouldn’t have had before.”
“It’s really good problem-solving, teamwork, just everything all together. It really helps … you have better skills for the future,” said Kyle Brown, a junior at Bandon High School.
Photos from the 2017 contest in Oregon are on Oregon Sea Grant’s Flickr page at c.kr/s/aHskYZdMiF
People Profiles give us an opportunity to get to know our colleagues a little better. Say hello to Tracy Crews, Oregon Sea Grant marine education manager.
What is your connection to Sea Grant Extension? I oversee the youth and family programs, as well as professional development educator at Hatfield Marine Science Center, connecting participants to coastal and marine research. I also coordinate programming for the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, which serves coastal communities from Astoria to Brookings.
How long have you been doing outreach and engagement work? I started out my career as a graduate research assistant for Virginia Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Program working on fisheries-related issues and have been engaged in some form of outreach and education ever since.
What’s the best job you’ve ever had? My current position. Over the nine years I have held this position, I have worked with a wonderful group of employees and partners and have been able to grow the program in exciting new ways to meet the changing needs of our stakeholders. Developing the statewide underwater robotics competition is just one example.
What’s the best part of your current job? Empowering people and seeing them develop new skills, whether it is my staff, educators, or students. Witnessing the excitement and pride of others as they accomplish new things is extremely gratifying.
Where did you grow up? A little town called Jollyville, Texas, in the hill country surrounding Austin. It has since been developed and incorporated and is now officially part of Austin.
Do you have any pets? A golden retriever named Willow and a cat named Misty.
Do you have any hobbies? Living in Yachats, I love to spend time at the beach and gardening, and I am an avid crafter.
Where is the last best place you went on vacation?At the end of every summer, my son and I travel to a different place in the world. Last summer it was Fiji. This summer, we are headed to the Big Island of Hawaii.
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be? As a kid growing up in land-locked Texas watching Jacques Cousteau, I really would have loved to have a chance to meet him in person as he set me on the path that has led me to where I am today.
What was your favorite subject in school?Biology (no surprise there!).
Based on a Digital Measures impact report by Stacey Sowders and Patrick Willis, Oregon State University Extension Service 4-H Youth Development, Metro Region
Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp offers middle and high school Hispanic musicians an immersive musical experience while emphasizing exploration of STEAM topics (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).
Hispanic students are currently the largest minority group in the Oregon public school system, and they score lower than national averages on math and science tests. Their participation and success in higher education is also significantly lower than other youth populations. Using music as the common denominator, the Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp stimulates curiosity about and interest in STEAM careers.
The Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp is the brainchild of Romanna Flores, a dedicated 4-H STEM volunteer and Intel employee. Started in 2016 and now in its second year, the camp has created enthusiastic participants and supporters.
“I did not think college was an opportunity for me before this camp.” Student testimonial
In 2016, underserved youth from diverse schools in Portland, Hillsboro and Forest Grove participated in a five-day residential Mariachi Camp on the OSU campus in Corvallis. Music-focused activities introduced students to music theory and audio processing concepts, and connected music to STEAM concepts, all while advancing their music performance skills. Activities included:
Assembling a musical greeting card with electrical components
Digital audio recording
Three-dimensional model construction and printing
Students learned to analyze the properties of audio signals from their own digitally recorded music files using MATLAB. OSU’s Dr. Cotilla-Sanchez introduced basic filtering techniques and demonstrated the math behind those filters.
Intel volunteers led a technology workshop that combined digital audio editing with an introduction to hardware and electronics. The result was a personalized musical greeting card.
Oregon State University students led recreational activities and provided invaluable guidance to college preparedness and expectations.
Quotes from the 2016 cohort:
“I feel like it would be fun just to push our limits and see more parts of OSU and their classes and what it takes to be in OSU.”
“After learning about the technology … I wanted more time because of how fun it was.”
“I loved to learn about the technology like MATLAB and making music with SoundTrap. Now I can make music anytime anywhere!”
2016 camp leadership included:
Romanna Flores – Intel Project Manager (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers)
Richard Flores – Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
Daniel Bosshardt – Hillsboro School District (Music Instructor)
Lesslie Nunez – Forest Grove School District (Music Instructor)
Sativa Cruz – OSU Student, Graduate Research – Environmental Sciences
Funding was provided by the 4-H Foundation, Oregon State University Precollege Program, Hillsboro School District, Intel, individual donors, registration fees from families, and in-kind donations by OSU Extension 4-H in Washington County.
At the request of the 2016 cohort, the 2017 program expanded to a seven-day and six-night experience. It continues the tradition of music rehearsals, music theory and composition and the history of Mariachi music, all culminating in a concert.
Throughout each day, math, science and technology activities engage the 30-youth cohort. Several high school graduates from the 2016 inaugural cohort returned in 2017 to work as camp counselors. Other students from last year had such a memorable experience they returned for a second year of Mariachi Camp.
A little about Mariachi
In 2011, UNESCO recognized mariachi, a hard-hitting, lively music, as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The music originated in the center-west of Mexico. Over the decades, the music that transformed from a regional rural folk music into an urban form of music that is viewed as quintessentially Mexican.
A 10-day International Mariachi Festival is held each year in Guadalajara. It attracts more than 500 mariachis (bands), who perform in concert halls and city streets.
Traditional mariachi instruments are trumpets; violins; guitar; the vihuela, a high-pitched, round-backed guitar that provides rhythm; and a bass guitar called a guitarrón, which also provides rhythm. Six violins, two trumpets, and one each of the guitar, vihuela and guitarrón makes up the ideal mariachi band.
Historically, mariachi groups have been made up of men but there is growing acceptance of female mariachis.
Big-city radio stations, movie studios, and record companies took mariachi music to new audiences throughout Mexico and abroad beginning in the 1930s.
There is not a lead singer in Mariachi. Everyone in the ensemble does some vocalization even if it is just during the chorus parts.
Family Community Health Extension Program Leader Roberta Riportella is taking the public health discussion upstream into the policy realm. All Extension programs have opportunities to collaborate and think in terms of health impacts. Learn more about her plans to tackle wicked public health concerns in this month’s First Monday Update.
Speaking of well-being, Vice Provost Scott Reed encourages you to describe what you are doing to take care of yourself and reenergize this summer. Share your plans in the comment section below.
We are re-introducing profiles of University Outreach and Engagement faculty and staff as an opportunity to get to know our colleagues a little better. Say hello to Charles Robinson, special initiatives, University Outreach and Engagement and the College of Liberal Arts.
How long have you worked with University Outreach and Engagement? Since 2014.
What’s the best part of the work you’re doing? Interacting and collaborating with colleagues and communities all across our state—and producing real and valuable results on their behalf.
What work accomplishment are you most proud of? I can look back on many things and feel proud for what I’ve been able to contribute. But the single most important one to me has been the creation and growth of The CO•, the group behind The Corvallis Maker Fair and a number of related events that focus on building community and resources around hands-on learning. The CO• began as a grassroots partnership between a few units on campus, including the College of Liberal Arts, the Division of University Outreach and Engagement, and the Valley Library. It now includes many OSU and community groups and focuses on offering a 2-day series of maker activities on campus each spring and is moving into new areas of research and statewide partnership.
How should success be measured? Good stories!
If you could learn the answer to one question about your future, what would the question be? What’s next?
What smell brings back good memories? Coffee. Always.
What is your favorite season? Autumn.
If you could call up anyone in the world and have a one-hour conversation, who would you call? My grandfathers. I never met either of them, but as I grow nearer them in age, I think I just might be able now to truly understand some of the things they would have to say.
What song always puts you in a good mood?Institutionalized by the punk band, Suicidal Tendencies.
Do you engage in social media? If yes, what’s your favorite social media platform (for work and/or play)? Reluctantly and awkwardly. For work – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (#osuspark #TheCOCorvallis). For play (and proud parent moments) – Facebook.
What are the three best apps on your phone? Dropbox, Evernote and Google Photos.
Have you traveled to any different countries? Not nearly enough! Which ones? Not nearly enough! Mexico, Canada, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and Denmark.
Where is the most awe inspiring place you have been? An ATM machine on the outskirts of Salem. Yes, I’m being cryptic – sorry, this one’s just for me – but you asked!
Written by Ann Marie Murphy. Photos by Stephen Ward, Extension and Experiment Station Communications.
The inaugural Clatsop County Commercial Fisheries Tour welcomed—and enlightened—a hundred guests in Astoria on May 31, 2017. The goal of the first-ever community organized fisheries tour was to educate local, state and federal elected leaders about the economic value of and sustainable management practices used by the seafood processing and fishing industries. The event provided a forum for open dialogue and relationship building among community leaders, fishermen, seafood processors, and other stakeholders involved in the commercial fishing industry.
The fisheries tour audience learned:
Fishing is a meaningful way of life.
North Coast fisheries inject millions of dollars into the state’s economy.
Labor shortages and housing availability for seasonal workers are critical issues facing the industry.
Newer net and trap technology let non-target fish to escape, virtually eliminating bycatch.
Federal, state and industry cooperation—and using the best science available—ensure long-term sustainable commercial, cultural and recreational fisheries.
“The goal of the fisheries tour is to help decision-makers understand the industry and its issues.” Patrick Corcoran, Oregon Sea Grant and OSU Extension Service county leader for Clatsop County
“The steering committee wanted to show that the fishing industry is a vital, driving force of our North Coast economy,” said Amanda Gladics. “The OSU Extension Service served to convene the steering committee and worked with them to refine and prioritize their goals. OSU Extension in Clatsop County also supports an annual forestry tour, now in its 27th year, that served as a model for the fisheries tour. It was really satisfying to facilitate this community-led learning experience and see such a positive response from community leaders.”
The regional and global connections of Clatsop County’s commercial fishing sector were highlighted during the opening presentations and as participants visited WCT Marine & Construction Inc., a marine repair facility, Pacific Coast Seafoods’ temporary processing facility at Tongue Point, the Great Ocean Da Yang Seafood Inc. processing facility, and over lunch at Englund Marine and Industrial Supply, a marine supplier. Questions posed by the audience deepened the understanding of the issues:
Q: Are we getting new fishermen?
A: It is harder to find good crew and there is not enough demand for a community college fisheries degree program. People can make a good living, but crewing or working in canneries is hard work.
Q: How do we sustain our fleet?
A: Educate high school counselors that fisheries is a good job. All the fisheries commission will start going to job fairs.
Q: What do we need to do to build the ship repair and new vessel construction businesses in Astoria?
A: Substantial commitments are needed from the state, county, port and city to improve the port. For Tongue Point to be a regionally competitive ship repair facility, the port would need to install a boatlift, deepen waters, address contamination issues and replace sewage infrastructure. There is nothing else on the North Coast like J&H and WCT Marine, but from the port’s perspective, the investment economics do not pencil out (the port currently loses $260,000/year and a boat lift costs $4 million).
Presenters highlighted Oregon’s major fishing sectors: Dungeness crab, pink shrimp, groundfish, albacore tuna, and salmon.
Dungeness crab is the backbone of Oregon fisheries. It experienced a record $60 million harvest in 2017. It takes about four years for a Dungeness crab to reach harvestable size. Strict guidelines ensure small and female crabs are returned to the ocean to safeguard future harvests.
The Oregon crab fleet has 424 boats.
Crab Season typically runs from December to August.
There are six major ports running the length of the Oregon Coast.
To learn more about the crabbing industry and its importance to Oregon, visit OregonDungeness.org.
Did you know that Oregon has a shrimp fishery? The Oregon Trawl Commission provides leadership to the shrimp and groundfish fisheries. Trawling is a method of fishing that involves pulling a fishing net through the water behind one or more boats. There are more trawlers in Oregon than anywhere else on the West Coast, and most of those are located between Astoria and Warrenton.
“Fisheries are well-managed for the long-term, for the future. Every person is accountable for everything he or she catches. The transition was difficult, but depleted fisheries are being rebuilt so they can be fished again. It’s a real success story.”Scott McMullen, Oregon Fishermen’s Cable Committee
According to commission Executive Director Nancy Fitzpatrick, the Oregon Albacore Commission and the Oregon Salmon Commission have started providing canned fish, recipes and a few other ingredients to Central Oregon school kids to create a greater “farm” to table connection. Started in Seaside, Oregon, the program serves as a model for schools statewide.
The Oregon albacore fishing fleet has 350-500 boats.
Albacore fishing season runs from June to October.
There are 17 ports running the length of the Oregon Coast.
A strong U.S. dollar creates competitive challenges. The majority of Oregon’s catch ships overseas—to Africa, Ukraine, Nordic and other countries. Investing in automation helps drive down costs and offset the shortage of labor, reducing the need for labor in processing plants by up to two-thirds, or more. The loss of container shipping out of the Port of Portland forces processed fish from Oregon to be transported to Tacoma or Seattle, increasing costs.
The Columbia River Basin, which spans two countries, seven states and 13 federally recognized Indian reservations, is the largest freshwater contributor to the Pacific Ocean. Natural resource management throughout the basin is essential to healthy fisheries and to the livelihoods of 150,000 Oregon workers. Cultural and recreational aspects of salmon and other fisheries need to be respected and understood.
The Oregon salmon fishing fleet has 350-450 active fishing boats.
Salmon fishing season typically runs from April to October.
There are 17 ports running the length of the Oregon Coast.
“We need to use the best available science,” stated Steve Fick,Fishhawk Fisheries, to the lunchtime audience. “If you have healthy salmon stock, then you have healthy wildlife populations. And healthy industries that provide living wages and contribute to the local, county and state tax base…and the ripple of revenue injections into the economy.”
For another fisheries outreach experience, this time for the public, save July 14 and September 15 as days to “Shop at the Dock & Beyond” in Warrenton. Join Oregon Sea Grant to learn about local commercial fisheries, how to buy seafood directly from fishermen, and for a behind the scenes tour of Skipanon Brand Seafood cannery. View a PDF of the event: dock_shop_NorthCoast. Newport offers a “Shop at the Dock” experience, too. Here’s the Newport summer schedule: dock_shop_2017_3.
We are profiling faculty and staff involved the outreach and engagement work featured on the University Outreach and Engagement blog. Please say hello to Amanda Gladics, Coastal Fisheries Extension Faculty, Oregon Sea Grant and Extension Service – Clatsop County, Coast Region.
How long have you worked with OSU Extension Service? I started with OSU Extension Service last July, but I have been working or studying at OSU in some capacity since 2007.
What’s the best part of the work you’re doing? Getting to work with such a variety of people and feeling really connected to my community.
What work accomplishment are you most proud of? My recent research into albatross bycatch reduction in longline fisheries on the West Coast was incorporated into guidance that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided to NOAA Fisheries and will be incorporated into fisheries management policy. It was really satisfying to see research that was driven by fishermen’s questions result in common sense policy that will work better for fishermen and save seabirds.
What area of research is of particular interest to you? My research background is in marine ecology and fisheries bycatch reduction, and I’m still interested in food web ecology and fisheries management research. I’m finding myself more and more interested in social sciences as we face the challenge of managing coupled human-ecological systems like fisheries.
Would you rather be completely invisible for one day or be able to fly for one day? Having spent the last 9 years working with birds in some capacity, I would definitely rather fly for a day.
What is something uplifting happening in the world right now? I think there are so many uplifting things happening in the world – especially if we focus our attention locally. Here in Astoria, we just had our second Pride parade along the Riverwalk a few weeks ago. I got to march with the North Coast Food Web and it was really inspiring to see a small, coastal community like Astoria embrace love in all its forms.
What food do you know you shouldn’t eat but can’t help yourself? Fancy COFFEE!!!! Good coffee is irresistible.
What is your favorite holiday? Spring Equinox – I love Oregon’s spring, and the equinox always is about the time where I really notice the days getting brighter.
Do you prefer summer or winter activities? Summer. I like to run, and it’s less fun to run in the rain and dark.
What is a fashion trend you are really glad went away? Oversized skater pants.
Do you engage in social media? If yes, what’s your favorite social media platform (for work and/or play)? I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but I’m the most active on Twitter @agladics. I generally just lurk and like on Facebook. I use Instagram for posting pictures of food, travel, and chickens.
Do you have any pets? How long have you and your pet(s) known each other? I have three chickens: Ophelia, Sprite and Butterbean. We’ve had Ophelia (a drama queen and alpha hen) for four years, and Sprite and Butterbean since February 2016.
Based on a 2016 Digital Measures impact report submitted by Lynn Long, Extension horticulturist and co-county leader for Wasco County. Michelle Sager, Master Gardener education program assistant, supported the project. Edited by Ann Marie Murphy.
A greenhouse, purchased many years ago by Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facilities (NORCOR) teaching staff, languished empty and unused. In 2009, OSU Master Gardeners (MGs) in Wasco County began a partnership with the facility to share the greenhouse space originally intended to be used by student detainees as part of their science curriculum. NORCOR houses youth from Wasco, Hood River, Sherman, and Gilliam counties.
The MGs work with NORCOR youth to grow a large variety of plants—including annuals, herbs, perennials, vegetables, and ornamental grasses—for their fundraising spring plant sale. In exchange, they share their knowledge and passion for plants with the detained youth and a portion of the funds are used to operate the greenhouse.
“The people who attend the fair often tell Master Gardener volunteers that they intentionally buy our plants to support the NORCOR youth and show appreciation for our involvement with the NORCOR project.”*
NORCOR provides the greenhouse, water and power along with the staffing required to monitor the in-custody youth while in the greenhouse. Master Gardeners provide hands-on learning experiences for the students and NORCOR’s high school education staff provides academic support in the form of theoretical science curriculum.
For the MGs, preparation begins in the fall when they scour seed catalogs for an array of plant varieties that are anticipated to grow well in the region and are marketable at the spring plant sale. The seeds are ordered and the greenhouse is prepared for the spring growing season. In January, supervised greenhouse sessions with the youth begin.
Over the years, Master Gardeners recorded the number of seeds planted and planting dates and bloom times in order to produce marketable plants that are mostly sold at the one-day WCMGA Spring Plant Fair. From January to May, more than 250 different varieties—totaling approximately 6,500 plants—are grown in the NORCOR greenhouse.
NORCOR students are able to participate under close NORCOR staff supervision after they have maintained several days of exemplary behavior as rated by NORCOR staff. Youth are paired with a Master Gardener to perform a variety of greenhouse tasks. MG volunteers develop mini greenhouse sessions for the students. Because many of the youth are residents for fewer than six weeks, short lessons with easily grasped concepts are essential. At the end of their sessions, students discuss what they learned that day.
Working with MGs in the greenhouse is a positive environment where students learn about seeds, soils, plant identification, transplanting, irrigation techniques, fertilizer schedules, temperature control, and the ability to work together with adults and co-workers. All while gaining life-long work skills and experience.
Student tasks include:
Filling pots with the soil mixture suitable for the plant;
Seeding the pots;
Dividing and transplanting the plants as they outgrow their containers;
Rotating the plants so they receive sunlight and water evenly;
Helping maintain and fertilize the plants; and
Sweeping the floors before they leave, part of learning greenhouse sanitation management.
Students take insect traps and plant tissues to view in their classroom microscopes. This expands their hands-on knowledge by investigating plant life more thoroughly and ties the greenhouse project to their academic classroom training. Additionally, some of the youth are allowed to leave the facility to attend the Spring Plant Fair, participating by providing information to buyers, making sales and helping to transport the plants to vehicles.
A NORCOR high school teacher indicated three major benefits of the project:
Students develop a sense of pride and accomplishment; the impact is greatest for long-term residents.
They learn to collaborate and work with adults on a project. Teenagers working along with adults on a mutually beneficial project is an unique experience in a secure facility.
The project provides students with an opportunity to learn and enjoy nature and discover a new interest outside of their academic courses; this helps with the transition to a ‘bigger world’ upon their release.
The participating NORCOR youth are asked to write thank you letters to the Master Gardeners. A memorable message from a young pregnant woman recognized that nurturing plants was like nurturing a child: they require observation and their needs to be provided for. “Without color” is how a student described her time at NORCOR, that is until she worked at the greenhouse and she began to see colors in her life once again.
The looks on the faces of the greenhouse kids is priceless when the MGs roll out approximately 6,500 plants and load them onto flatbed trucks and into vehicles. The colorful parade of healthy, beautiful flowers and plants is impressive. The youth are stunned when they see the results of their labors and take pride in their accomplishment. This is an important outcome because the majority of NORCOR kids have had few successes in their young lives. When the students complete their term at the facility, they are encouraged to take home a plant of their choice.
The greenhouse project encourages learning that goes beyond horticulture; however, because of confidentiality reasons, it is difficult to assess how the Master Gardener/NORCOR greenhouse project affects the lives of the youth after their release. Master Gardeners present certificates of accomplishment to students that worked in the greenhouse five times or more during the season. Those certificates have been used for job references. At least one young man living in the area worked for a local agriculture business after his release, putting the greenhouse program knowledge and skills to work.
Though challenging, the MGs also consider this project educational for themselves. The Master Gardeners increase their knowledge of greenhouse management and develop techniques to ensure the health of the plants. The project is an excellent, practical, hands-on teaching experience and it is an opportunity to put their Master Gardener training into practice.