The University Outreach and Engagement blog features stories about the vast variety of ways OSU and OSU Extension Service offer meaningful outreach and engagement to support healthy communities, healthy planet and a healthy economy.
Written by Amy Jo Detweiler, associate professor, Horticulture Faculty for Central Oregon
Edible landscaping and backyard food production continues to gain popularity with gardeners. With this trend, there has been an increasing number of people inquiring about control of their “wormy apples” (a.k.a. codling moth) in Central Oregon.
Codling moth is not only a pest of apple and pear trees in Central Oregon, it is a serious pest on both a statewide and national level for backyard and commercial fruit tree growers.
One of the most critical components for effectively managing this pest is timing . . . and the use of integrated pest management strategies (IPM).
In an effort to help clients with management decisions, Project Happy Apples was initiated in 2015 (a soft launch) and officially launched in 2016. A Project Happy Apples website was setup, which includes a place for clients to opt-in to receive timely emails for codling moth management specific to Central Oregon.
Project Happy Apples emails include timely photos and suggestions for various kinds of research-based management. Emails also contain simple instructions on exactly when to do what, a supplies list, associated costs, and where to buy supplies locally, or online. Suggested management strategies include both organic and more traditional types of management so that clients can make informed decisions. All of the email notes are available with additional pest information on the Project Happy Apples website.
Currently, three hundred gardeners receive the emails. A survey was sent to clients in December to assess the value of the project and measure impact. Ideally clients will make informed decisions that will allow them to be more effective in controlling the pest, reduce or eliminate pesticide use, and produce edible apples and pears. They will also be taking an active role in suppressing the pest population statewide in an effort to protect the commercial tree fruit industry in Oregon.
As reported in the Metro Connection December e-newsletter
Oregon State University Extension staff will play a major role in creating a research-based guide that is intended to help urban communities across the nation address poverty, hunger, social justice issues and homelessness.
Patrick Proden, OSU O&E regional administrator for the Metro Region, and Stacey Sowders, 4-H Outreach Coordinator and Multnomah County leader for OSU Extension, will leverage their contribution to the Rural Community Issues Guide by extending their research to urban areas.
Population shifts to urban centers
When the Cooperative Extension Service was created, less than 20 percent of the nation’s population lived in urban environments. Now that number exceeds 80 percent, with a resulting increase in complex social and environmental issues such as:
Degraded water quality
Poor air quality
Limited food access
*100 different languages are spoken in one school district in Portland, Oregon
Working in partnership with universities in Alaska, Washington, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, OSU is leading the research-based effort in the Portland metro area. To gather community information, several methods will be employed: concern gathering sessions, surveys, even knocking on doors for face-to-face conversations. The most pressing and wicked challenges will be identified. As issues are named and framed, a guide will be developed to create additional deliberation and dialogue in communities throughout the states involved.
Conducting thorough research, though challenging, is essential to gathering accurate information. Walking through neighborhoods to talk with residents, reaching out to new partners, tapping traditional allies like the Oregon Food Bank, and working closely with arts and humanities organizations and local nonprofits will be utilized to reach a more varied audience.
OSU Extension staff will lead discussions to help communities define their problems and figure out what they need to address them. “People know what their burning issues are, but they don’t always know where to go to get the issues addressed,” said Proden. “The planned forums will help communities convene, identify leaders to hear concerns and work to make progress on the issues.” Naming and framing issues in this manner encourages citizen participation and breaks down barriers, turning personal vision into action.
To dig deep into a community’s challenges, questions asked by moderators during concern gathering sessions include: What concerns you about this issue? Given those concerns, what would you do about it? If that worked to ease your concern, what are the downsides or trade-offs you might then have to accept?
Opportunities for OSU Extension
Not only will the research effort help communities come together to identify common goals, OSU Extension also will identify service gaps where it makes sense to have Extension step in and offer the resources of OSU.
While conducting community discussions in September 2016 for the rural guide in Corbett, Oregon, a small town east of Portland where OSU Extension’s work is primarily centered on 4-H, residents indicated they wanted support for urban agriculture focused on markets, small businesses and mediation. With Extension’s considerable expertise in community agriculture, such as Master Gardeners, and personal development offerings such as financial literacy classes, Extension is poised to help the community address their community vitality priorities.
The Kettering Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching social issues and making democracy accessible to all people, will publish the urban communities issue guide. The Kettering Foundation believes democracy requires a community, or a society of citizens, that can work together. The foundation researches the way citizens face persistent problems in their communities. These problems, such as poverty, violence, and gaps in educational achievement, require citizens, communities, and institutions to work together to address them (source: Kettering Foundation website).
“People are disconnected from civic engagement and discourse,” said Proden, “which makes our efforts to engage all communities paramount. It’s all about having conversations which lead to action. At the same time we introduce democracy to people who may never before have had an opportunity to participate.
“Extension has an important role to play by helping build a transformative movement, with the goal of shaping new people-centered and community-centered policies based on the principles of equity and justice.” To learn more about the project, view Urban Communities Re-Imagined, presented by Patrick Proden and Dr. Angela Allan, University of Wisconsin-Extension.
Every day I learn something new. Today I learned that Oregon State Ecampus launched a podcast on research literacy in higher education. The “Research in Action” podcast is hosted by Katie Linder, Ecampus research director.
(Ecampus is part of Extended Campus, which rolls up to Educational Outreach, and then to the Division of University Outreach and Engagement. The Division has a full and flourishing family tree!)
If asked, I would guess that the podcast focuses on research related to online learning. But no, its purpose is broader than that. “Research in Action” addresses topics and issues facing researchers across the nation with goals to increase research literacy and build community among researchers.
For those in the Division conducting research, there is much to learn and contribute. For those of us curious about the scientific process and research conducted at universities, accessible information is also available.
Podcasts are recorded and are available on the Ecampus Research Unit website and on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.
“No researcher has all of the skills or expertise, and it’s incredibly valuable to have researchers come in with a diverse range of experiences and talk about these niche areas,” Linder said.
“Research in Action” has already published four episodes and has received more than 500 downloads. Over a dozen guests have been pre-recorded and more than 10 episodes are in production.
Upcoming “Research in Action” episodes include:
Jim Kroll, Office of the Inspector General, National Science Foundation, discussing research misconduct.
Nina Huntemann, researcher at edX, learning new research skills at mid-career.
Joshua Weller, psychology researcher from OSU, discussing psychometrics.
The team of Ariel Ginsburg, Dionisia Morales, and Luisa Santamaria will help OSU Extension Service broaden its audience base and increase confidence that we are serving the needs of an underserved population.
The team received a Professional Development Fund grant from the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE) for their project titled “What Workers Think: Communication Needs Assessment for Latino Farm and Nursery Workers.”
Ginsburg and Morales are publishing managers with Extension & Experiment Station Communications (EESC) and Santamaria is an Extension plant pathology specialist and assistant professor focusing on farm and nursery pests and integrated pest management (IPM). She is also a bi-lingual educator, providing hands-on training to nursery and farm workers on a range of issues related to IPM, food safety, plant pathology, and pest life cycle.
Why did the team think the needs assessment was necessary? Here’s a quote from the grant application: Spanish-speaking workers make up the majority of the labor force in Oregon’s agriculture and horticulture industries, and yet few publications and multimedia materials are designed to meet their vocational and linguistic needs. Many publications from the Extension catalog have been translated into Spanish, but feedback suggests that the translated topics aren’t always well suited to farm and horticultural workers because it is too technical, is written at too high of a reading level, or requires a computer to download and print.
The grant will help Extension learn what people don’t want, but more importantly, the three proposed focus group sessions will discover what Spanish-speaking workers in the farm and horticultural fields do want.
This is exactly the type of research that we need to do more of across age, geographic and cultural audiences in order to deepen our understanding of why, how, and when people want and need the knowledge residing within OSU.
The project begins September 2016 and wraps up September 2017. Proposed outcomes include:
Identify the key topics Spanish-speaking farm and horticultural workers find most relevant to their work and lives;
Create a set of criteria for gauging whether new and existing OSU Extension publications should be translated/re-conceptualized for the Spanish-speaking work audience;
Create guidelines for Extension faculty with the kinds of questions and activities that will help them identify the most effective communication materials for Spanish-speaking workers; and
Build collaborative relationships with local farm and horticultural operators to encourage future focus sessions and expand our knowledge of workers’ emerging needs and interests.
Looking outside the boundaries of Oregon, this information can be applied in any state where immigrant, migrant, or non-English speaking populations are an essential part of the food and plant production economy.
The ACE grant selection committee looked for projects with broad application across the country. As a requirement, project leaders will submit a final report for publication on the ACE website, making research results widely available. The OSU team also will be encouraged to talk about the project at next year’s ACE conference and to contribute to the Journal of Applied Communications. Additional 2016 ACE grant-funded projects include Scott Swanson, North Dakota State University, How to Capture High-Quality Video and Kristina Boone and Gloria Holcombe, Kansas State University, Exploration of Digital Asset Management Systems.