As reported in the Metro Connection December e-newsletter

 

Dialogue and deliberation during a September 2016 community meeting OSU Extension convened in Corbett, Oregon
Dialogue and deliberation during a September 2016 community meeting OSU Extension convened in Corbett, Oregon, led by Patrick Proden and Stacey Sowders.

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:

  • Distressed environment
  • Degraded water quality
  • Poor air quality
  • Aging infrastructure
  • Crime
  • Poverty
  • Illiteracy
  • Unemployment
  • Limited food access
  • Unaffordable housing
  • Diverse demographics*

*100 different languages are spoken in one school district in Portland, Oregon

 

Research-based effort

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.

naming-and-framing

 

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.

 

Posted on the Progressive Grocer website, December 19, 2016

 

[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.

 

 

Written by Ann Marie Murphy

 

seed-to-supper
Photo by Lynn Ketchum

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.

 

s2s-web-page-banner_2-525x149Started 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.”

 

Have you grown your own fruits and vegetables?

Written by By Pat Kight and Tiffany Woods

[Editor’s note: This article appears in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Confluence, Oregon Sea Grant’s quarterly newsletter.]

Girl Scouts use turkey basters and magnifying lenses to collect and view aquatic insects at Rock Creek near Corvallis. They were learning about the health of the creek through Oregon Sea Grant's StreamWebs program. (Photo by Pat Kight)
Girl Scouts use turkey basters and magnifying lenses to collect and view aquatic insects at Rock Creek near Corvallis. They were learning about the health of the creek through Oregon Sea Grant’s StreamWebs program. (Photo by Pat Kight)

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, she said.

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 Giannico has 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. 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.

“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.”