Jeff Sherman and Lindsey Shirley
Photo and video by Jill Wells

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

 

Codling moth damage in Gravenstein apples. By Richard Wilde via Wikimedia Commons

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

 

Morghan Gifford forgoes unhealthy food for watermelon after helping to promote healthy snacks. Photo: Kelly McLaughlin.

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.