A man in an orange shirt sits under a canopy at an outdoor table, surrounded by signs and papers about well water testing.
Ahad Aziz stresses the importance of well water testing at the Independence Farmers Market in September. Photo by Morgan Neil of the Polk Soil and Water Conservation District.

This summer, I was given the opportunity to integrate public health initiatives into the OSU Extension Well Water Program with Chrissy Lucas in Benton, Linn, Lane, Marion and Polk counties. I was fortunate enough to interview several healthcare professionals, public health and environmental science professors and groundwater experts to learn more about the intersectionality of health promotion and disease prevention. I was able to interact with individuals from several different county health departments, the Oregon Water Resources Department, and professors at the Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University who specialize in science implementation, public health policy promotion and control interventions.  

To help bring more awareness to the Well Water Program I collaborated with the different Extension Service offices and with campus resources to design and display posters and encourage the public to get their well water tested. I also helped with the Be Well Project study in Jackson County and sent out many letters and postcards to the five counties about upcoming nitrate screening clinics. 

With my internship coming to an end, I’m writing a final report for Chrissy and the Southern Willamette Valley Groundwater Management Area Committee on how information relating to nitrate and other contaminants in domestic wells can be shared with other healthcare professionals. What I have learned is that well owners who perceive themselves as having more control over the problems within their wells are more likely to test and perform well maintenance.  

A big shout out to Chrissy, my fellow interns Briauna Herrick and Kelci Free, Nicole Mason, the office specialist in the Extension office in Benton County; and many others for their enthusiasm and for helping me grow. Before this summer, I think I had gone to only one farmers market, but with this internship, I was able to visit many farmers markets, meet a huge variety of people that I probably would never have interacted with and I gained valuable knowledge from their experiences. 

 

Hello everyone! I’m Alyson Yates, and this summer I’ve had the pleasure of working with 4-H and agricultural Extension in Lake County for a second year. My internship concluded last week with the 103rd Lake County Fair and Roundup. 

After preparing for several weeks, my county fair week began with static 4-H exhibits. This year, our Lake County 4-H members entered projects in a large variety of areas, including floriculture, Legos, fused glass, photography, fiber arts, food preservation and more. I assisted as a clerk and got hands-on experience with check-in, interviews, judging, state fair qualifications and final set-up processes. 

Three goats and their handlers stand facing a woman with a clipboard while others watch.
Alyson Yates judging meat goats in 4-H Round Robin showmanship.

I had a few different objectives throughout county fair week, both within my internship and through my volunteer position as a 4-H leader. One of my goals was to photograph all of our 4-H livestock shows for use in future publications and media. This was a continuation of the work I did last year, which I greatly enjoyed as it incorporated my love of photography into Extension. I covered shows for 10 different species this year, from swine to dairy cattle and everything in between. I am very happy with the photos I captured, and I am excited to see them used in future media! 

One of the challenges that we were faced with this year was Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), also known as avian flu, in the state of Oregon. We had several poultry 4-H members in our county, and in order to maintain good biosecurity, non-market animals were not allowed at our county fair. To allow our poultry 4-H members to still show their knowledge and skills, we used stuffed “dummy birds” and a knowledge test for poultry showmanship. I worked closely alongside our small animal judge to coordinate this effort. Also, with the threat of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV2) in the region, we worked hard to sanitize all contacted surfaces and keep visitors from touching the animals. As an Extension intern and county fair small animal superintendent, this was one of my top priorities during fair week.   

My final area of focus was preparing our annual 4-H Recognition Ceremony. This year we had six fantastic youth speakers who worked as our emcees, and one of my responsibilities was to help them create their scripts and practice their speaking roles.  

Additionally, I have spent the last month assisting with the re-installment of the Lake County Ambassador program, and it was an honor to welcome four youth leaders to the team at this event. Outside of my internship work, I also had a fantastic time judging meat goats in our Round Robin Showmanship competition.   

A black and white closeup view of the face of a dark colored cow with an ear tag that says Lake Co Fair.
A steer and showman in the Rancher’s Choice Market Beef show. Photo by Alyson Yates.

Looking back at everything I did with Extension this summer it is hard for me to believe that my internship has come to an end. I want to extend my thanks to all of the Lake County staff that I’ve worked with, who have given me so many valuable opportunities to learn and grow in Extension and beyond.  I am so grateful for the time I’ve spent working in Lake County, and I am confident that I will carry what I have learned into my future endeavors in Extension programming.  

 

This summer I’ve had the pleasure of working for the OSU Extension Small Farms Program with Teagan Moran in Linn, Lane, and Benton counties. Most of my time was spent helping organize our Military Veteran Farm Tour Series and attending farm tours of the Willamette Women’s Farm Network (WWFN).

Two women in gray t-shirts and jeans stand next to each other, arm in arm, under a tree.
Crystal Kelso (right) with Teagan Moran, small farms coordinator in Benton, Lane and Linn counties.

I got to experience what it looks like to start out with a sheep farm using movable electrical fencing powered by solar panels, a dry farm that grows flowers and veggies alongside raising goats and poultry (and sampling some of the best goat cheese ever!) and wandering around a medicinal herb farm that has a roadside veggie stand and sells herbs to local businesses.  

I’ve met some amazing people and forged some long-term connections that I hope will carry over into both my personal and professional life. The farmers on these tours are thoughtful and caring about the land and their crops and animals. One thing they all had in common was the desire to connect with each other and give back to the community in a way that is sustainable and fulfilling. I think the overall theme was that these farmers are not doing this to get rich, but to feel good about what they are doing.                                                                                    

I have two more veteran farm tours to go to and will finish updating the agritourism farms list before I complete my internship. After that, I will stay on as a part-time student employee in the Small Farms Program while I finish my last year at OSU and receive my bachelor’s degree in horticulture/ horticulture therapy.  Wherever this path leads me, I am thankful for the time, experience and connections I’ve made with this internship. Having such a great mentor in Teagan to intern with has been super helpful, and she has been great about getting me connected to as many people as possible to help further my experience and career. Thanks again for the opportunity! 

Hi guys, I’m Briauna and I interned with the OSU Extension Groundwater Protection and Education Program in Benton County. As I wrap up my summer internship I looked back and realized how fast it all went. It seems like I just started this internship and as I write this blog post it is my last full week. Over the summer I was able to learn so many new things through the Well Water Program and other programs within Extension. In June we prepared for all the nitrate screenings we had planned for the summer. It consisted of a lot of cutting and stamping postcards, sending out press releases, and advertising through social media.

A woman crouches down to pick blueberries to collect in a white bucket.
Briauna Herrick picking blueberries on a farm visit.

Throughout the summer I worked on a handful of different projects, one of them being research on county websites for well and septic information and another was working on the newsletter archives in the Extension Small Farms Program website. I also got to help with the Be Well project based in Jackson County. We sent out a lot of letters that we stuffed, sealed and stamped. I am really surprised I made it through the summer without getting a paper cut! Once the clinics started it just kept getting busier from there. In between the busyness of nitrate screenings, I had the opportunity to go to Blueberry Field Day at the OSU North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora to learn more about the research being done there. I also helped at county fairs, and I even got to go on a farm visit with Lane County’s small farms Extension agent, Mellissa Fery.

I enjoyed getting to visit many different towns in the Willamette Valley where we held our screenings–I don’t think I have driven up and down I-5 so much in a span of three months. It was fun getting to spend a few hours in towns I hadn’t been to before and getting to know some of the people in the communities. Later this week I am holding a nitrate screening at my family’s farm in Springfield. I have been looking forward to testing water in the area I grew up in and getting to share what I have learned with my family, friends and close neighbors.

Over the course of my internship, I got to meet a lot of people and enjoyed learning from their experiences. Everyone I met involved with Extension was kind and always welcoming. I enjoyed working with Chrissy, Kelci, and Ahad over the summer and was able to learn from all of them. I am thankful for this opportunity to work with Extension and for everything I have learned over the past few months. Thank you to the people I met along the way and for this opportunity to grow.

Hi everyone. Em Jones here again. I can barely believe it’s been two months since my last blog post. The summer is coming to an end with earlier sunsets as we approach the equinox, about a month away now. I’ve been so busy with my internship I’ve hardly noticed the passing days. I’ve been networking, meeting new people and making lots of friends through various workshops and activities. My main projects have revolved around Small Farm School and the Oregon Mushroom Producers Network.  

A black plastic tub filled with a wide variety of mushrooms
A bountiful mushroom harvest.

The OSU Extension Small Farms program has been busy as a bee planning and preparing for Small Farm School. Several classes are filling up quickly but it’s not too late to register. It will be held on Monday, Sept. 12 at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City. Classes include topics like poultry processing, funding your small farm “dream,” and farming with climate resiliency.  

We are abuzz right now with volunteer opportunities to support workshops and ensure the day flows smooth as honey. If you’re interested, please reach out to Kelly Streit. Just four hours of volunteering gets you into the Small Farm School for free! 

In addition to supporting Small Farm School, I’ve also had the pleasure of facilitating the first meeting of Oregon’s Mushroom Producer Network. This group of folks includes gourmet and medicinal mushroom cultivators from across Oregon. If you or someone you know is cultivating mushrooms, please reach out to me for more details. We have an upcoming mushroom farm tour and have just begun the conversation about the purchasing power opportunities we can embark upon.  

While I am sad that my internship and the summer are quickly coming to an end, I am so grateful to have participated in the OSU Extension internship program. My mentor, Heidi Noordijk, has given me a wealth of knowledge and opportunity. She is truly a resource librarian and shining example of what the Extension Service is all about. From my time at the Clackamas County Fair to participating in her IPM class, I can honestly say she truly cares about and authentically supports the farming community for the benefit of us all.  

As fall approaches mushroom growing will be at a peak and this small farmer looks forward to continuing their education with Oregon State University as well as continuing to learn from and partner with the Extension Service.  

Hi! My name is Anna Ehlers and I’m an OSU Extension summer intern at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center (SOREC) in Jackson County. I am an Oregon State University student majoring in horticulture with a minor in biological data science. I am working with my supervisor Lena Hosking, 4-H program coordinator in Jackson County.  

A woman sits cross legged on the floor in front of a horticulture display
Anna Ehlers with her 4-H horticulture display and materials.

I am finishing up my last week at my internship and things have been less chaotic since we finished working at the fair.  

Lately I have been working on a horticulture curriculum for future 4-H camps or day projects. I have found many fun example curricula online and in our project books. Not only am I searching for projects, but I am also editing and revising them to better fit our desired curriculum. Our curriculum has a set of learning objectives that should be incorporated into each project, so revising the projects to improve teaching methods are needed.  

In addition to searching for projects, I have to test them out. By testing the projects, I can improve them to make instructions clearer for students or instructors reading through the curriculum. I can identify issues or miscommunication found in the instructions and modify them. This can clear up any confusion before the projects have begun. We also identify the learning outcomes, so the students have a takeaway after participating in a project. This helps us create a quality curriculum.  

I have found so many things that students of any age can enjoy. My focus is horticulture so I found many gardening, growing and observational horticulture projects that can be educational and fun. There are projects that work better for different ages, so I have some projects that can be easily adjusted. The projects I have modified include pressed flowers, paper making, and seed germination.  

Since many projects include crafts, I created multiple examples for a number of projects. My favorite project I worked on was pressing flowers. In the gardens surrounding the office there are many, many flowers that can be pressed. In front of the plants there are signs labeled with the scientific name and common name. After pressing the flowers for many days, I would write down the scientific name and common name then use Mod Podge to glue the flower onto a piece of cardstock. This would allow the flower to be preserved along with its name, and allows the students to learn that flowers and other plants can have more than one name so that identification can be easier.  

For my seed germination project, I grew different types of beans to see how they grew. The different beans allow for students to track different growth patterns between the different species. To develop scientific inquiry, there are many possible things to experiment with. Learning about a control group and an experimental group can show how you can compare and contrast regarding the different experiments. By using observational skills, students can learn how to identify and describe changes noticed in the real world.  

A woman looks across black and yellow flowers at a site to the right of the camera

I’m glad I had the opportunity to work behind the scenes to understand how much work goes into every project and event that takes place. It takes many people many hours to make our events go well. This is especially true for planning the county fair and a summer 4-H camp.  

I’ve learned to appreciate the work that is involved in preparing curriculum and revising projects that will be used in the future. There is always more work to do, and more things to revise, but it all works out in the end. I was able to work on many projects independently, which allowed me to work on my creativity not only with my curricula projects but also with marketing.  

I had a wonderful time working with 4-H over the summer. I have learned so much during my 10-week internship and I would like to thank Lena for being a great mentor by teaching me so much about 4-H and about OSU extension in general. I would also like to thank my co-worker Steven McIntyre for assisting me with my various projects.

Pulling up to the school building after a fairly long drive I look around and see nothing really all that remarkable. My mom has been talking about sending me and my sister Nadine to this science day camp for about a week now. The car slows down and eventually comes to a stop. My mom turns to me and my sister who are in the back seat and says “Here you are! Enjoy your first day at Hydromania tell me all about it when you get home” She gives us both a kiss on the head and sends us off into the school. At the time I had no real idea about what Hydromania was, so I was very excited to start going every day. However, I was soon disappointed due to how un-engaging most the lessons were. Fast forwarding to today and I have to make a lesson myself, I know I can’t be that boring as well.

Hydromania as I came to learn was a science camp where kids like me would go and learn about different topics in science. My year that I was there I learned about all sorts of things. From lightbulbs to how the McNary Dam works. However, there was one crucial issue with Hydromania for me. It was boring. Really, really boring. Most of the way those topics were explained were in ways that just didn’t interest children. I say this only because it gives context to how I approached my lesson for Hydromania as an OSU Extension intern this summer in Umatilla County. I was determined to make it at least somewhat fun and engaging.

A young man gives an outdoor demonstration while kids watch.
Joeseph Ferguson engages students at Hydromania.

To start I had to find something that would work for a short presentation. Learning from my past experience I knew I had to do something that would be engaging and hopefully interesting to learn about. This was way more difficult than expected. I would spend hours and hours finding a lesson idea writing a plan just to bore myself to sleep with it. I was beginning to worry that I just wouldn’t be able to make any lesson I could teach here fun or interesting. My only real goal here is to teach a subject in an engaging way and at this point it felt like I was failing at that.

Eventually I settled on a presentation idea just to make it fun. I had to engage the kids. So began making the final outline of the plan. I would be teaching them how to separate and identify the three different layers of soil. I would have a jar, a cup of soil and a pitcher of water along with two others already separated jars of soil. I would take time to explain the different layers and what you should look for in healthy soil then the fun part would come. One kid would put soil in the jar while another pours the water and the third will shake the jar for a minute. It’s fun to do so the kids would be engaged.

After all that preparation the day finally came, Hydromania. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Before giving the lesson I was thinking things like, ‘What if I forget things or don’t know what to say?” “What if they ask questions and I don’t know the answers?” Anyway, I began the lesson, and it went well! The kids loved it! They were laughing and having a great time. I hope that helps them remember some of the cool information they learned.

Now that Hydromania has passed, and I won’t be likely to teach it again I had to stop and think about if I achieved my goal. I most definitely did. Getting kids to laugh and have fun with science is something that can be insanely difficult. I know I achieved it. That’s something I’ll always keep in mind – it’s not enough to just know information when it comes to teaching, you also must teach it and show it can be fun.

My name is Alyson Yates, and I am returning as an OSU Extension intern for my second year in Lake County.  This summer, I have been a part of both 4-H programming and agricultural research, with the intent of increasing my knowledge of Extension and its role in communities around Oregon.  As I enter week 8 of my internship, I would like to reflect on the goals I have accomplished so far, and what I have yet to complete as I wrap up my time in Lake County.  

One of the most fulfilling parts of my internship this year has been re-establishing the Lake County 4-H Ambassador program alongside OSU Education Program Assistant Melissa Maxwell.  Growing up as a 4-H member in this county, I was active in many leadership areas, but this particular opportunity was not available to me.  Taking the steps to develop this program throughout the summer has not only been rewarding, but it has given me valuable experience with youth program initiation and design.  I am eager to see this project to completion when I wrap up my internship at our county fair!

A woman demonstrates how to show a chicken to a group of young people.
4-H members and families learning about chicken showmanship. Photo by Alyson Yates.

Throughout the summer, I have also been able to assist with a series of educational clinics facilitated by Lake County Extension, where 4-H families and leaders can learn about various livestock species.  I chose to take on the final event in this series, a clinic on rabbits and poultry, as my internship project.  The preparation process involved many steps, from securing a clinician and venue to designing a registration method for participants.  I also assisted with facilitating the clinic, which was held last week.  4-H members and leaders from around the county attended to learn and get hands-on experience, so I can happily call the project a success!  

On the agricultural side of my internship, I have been helping with a forage research project organized by agent Tammy Barnes.  So far, my work has been to process alfalfa samples from multiple study areas and complete dry matter measurements to calculate forage yield.  These measurements are then analyzed to compare the yield of alfalfa that has been inoculated with BioEnsure with control groups that have been irrigated with LESA (low elevation sprinkler application) systems.  This experience has taught me a lot about agricultural research methods and how Extension interacts with producers, and I am excited to learn more.  While I have not yet been able to collect samples from our study area myself, I hope to do so in the coming weeks before my internship concludes.   

Three people stand next to a stream.
Attendees at the Stream Assessment and Management workshop completing an ecological state assessment at Thomas Creek. Photo by Alyson Yates.

Earlier in the summer, I was also able to attend a workshop on stream assessment and management taught by OSU Extension employees and partners in Eastern Oregon.  This opportunity allowed me to draw valuable connections between Extension, local producers, and public land management organizations, and helped me learn more about the importance of watershed management.

The rest of my summer will be focused on preparation for the 103rd Lake County Fair & Roundup, held over Labor Day weekend.  While helping facilitate activities and events at the fair, I also plan to continue building our media base for the future.  I am looking forward to this event as the culmination of my second year with the Extension internship program, and I hope to continue finding new opportunities to learn and grow!

My name is Caitie Smith I am a current senior at Oregon State University studying agriculture science and will be returning for my master’s in agriculture education this fall. During my internship at the Linn County Extension Office, I have learned so much and the time has just flown by. I am so grateful to everyone at the office that has welcomed me and made me feel at home throughout the summer.

A woman stands against a cloud-streaked sky, wearing a backpack with long flags.
Caitie Smith carrying flags and drone ground control points for a grass seed trial.

I have mostly been working with Christy Tanner, assistant professor of practice and Extension field crops specialist, on several ongoing research projects throughout the summer. I wouldn’t be getting the full Linn County experience without doing some work with grass seed. So of course, one of the projects that took up the majority of our time involved assessing several grass seed fields for vole damage. This project was made easier with the use of multispectral images from a drone that allowed us to view the field from above. The most rewarding part of this project for me was being able to have a hands-on experience with several steps of the research process, from collecting samples to processing drone images and data.

Purple flower stalks peeking above a large field of dense green mint leaves.
A flowering mint field while pest scouting.

Another project that I worked on with Christy was monitoring variegated cutworm and mint root borers in several mint fields throughout the mid-Willamette valley. Every Tuesday I drove to four different fields, collected data, and changed the pheromone traps that were used to attract mature moths. After this, I would make graphs with the data that would go into the weekly “Mint Pest Alert” newsletter.

I also worked with Elizabeth Records, a community horticulture and Master Gardener educator, and the Extension Master Gardener content team. Weekly I edited master gardener trainee’s blog posts before posting them alongside a few social media posts. Not only did I learn a lot about editing and posting blogs but I also learned a great deal from the blog posts themselves. The trainees did copious amounts of research on each of their subjects from weeding tools to maximizing your harvest’s nutrients.

Once again, I can’t thank the Linn County Extension staff enough for allowing me to make the most out of this opportunity. I am sure that this is not my last chapter working with extension and I am looking forward to ways that I can use the knowledge that I gained in my future endeavors.

Hello! I’m Sophia Hampton, and I’m back again to recap my summer as I head into my last week as the small farms outreach intern in Polk County. These past nine weeks have flown by, and I have learned so much. Since my last post, I’ve been continuing to manage social media pages, put together our email newsletter, and create marketing materials. I feel more confident in my graphic design abilities and have gained a new understanding of the importance of marketing and effective marketing strategies. I have really enjoyed this aspect of my internship, and I know these skills will be valuable in the future.  

Two women sit at a sign in table for an event.
Sophia (left) and heather Stiven greet attendees at the Small Farm Social. Photo by Audrey Comerford.

I’ve also gotten experience in event planning, and one of the main events that I helped put on was Small Farm Social. This was an evening for farmers in the mid-Willamette Valley to connect with each other and meet service providers. It was rewarding to go through the process of planning and preparation and have a successful event by the end of it. It was a reminder that any event takes a lot of work and energy to come to fruition. I created many of the printed and virtual marketing materials, managed our RSVP list, sent email reminders, and helped with the check-in table on the evening of the social. 

A woman draws petals on a simple line drawing of a flower.
Sophia teaches about pollination at the Polk County Fair. Photo by Hayley White.

My independent project for this internship was to come up with an activity for the Cultivating tent at the Polk County Fair, and I led an activity aimed at youth to teach about pollination. I used chalk to represent pollen and cotton balls to represent bees to show the process of pollination, and I think the kids enjoyed the interactive demonstration. I appreciated being able to connect with the community, and it was great to see the interest the public has in Extension programming and services.  

Ultimately, I’m so grateful for this summer and this internship experience. I have great respect for all those who work in Extension; they care about the people they serve, were always willing to talk to me about their journey to their current position, and are making a real and important difference in communities. I would like to especially thank Hayley White, my supervisor, for her support and guidance as they are major reasons for my wonderful experience!