Joseph O’Brien is an intern in the OSU Extension office in Umatilla County.

In mid- to late July, I had the chance to work with community members from Umatilla and Morrow counties at Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs Workshop Camp (NBT), a two-week day camp with 10 new students each week. During this camp, my role was to put on a team-building activity each weekday for at least 15 to 30 minutes for the middle schoolers attending – sixth through eighth grade – and help throughout the day. The purpose of NBT camp was to educate the youth about the workforce positions available within the Port of Morrow located in Boardman as well as positions available in Hermiston, and also teach them about apprenticeships, how to be entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, and get them to start thinking about their future, all while following state safety regulations. Examples of workforce jobs we talked about included electricians, food manufacturers, diesel mechanics, etc.

Umatilla Electric Cooperative provides electrical circuit activity for youth at the NBT camp.
Umatilla Electric Cooperative provides electrical circuit activity for youth at the NBT camp.

One thing I took away from this camp was not only are these jobs going to be around for a very long time, but also, it is up to Generation Z to make sure that these jobs are filled. None of this would have been possible without Kalie Davis, workforce training manager at Port of Morrow and her two interns; Leah Harris at the Port of Morrow, Anna Browne, my internship supervisor and the 4-H/Juntos Latino outreach coordinator and acting Umatilla County Extension Service agent; Ruben Lopez, an Extension intern in Umatilla County; educators from Blue Mountain Community College and Pendleton School District, and workforce presenters from Umatilla Electric Cooperative and Boardman Foods.

Another interesting job I had was being part of the OSU TRACE-COVID-19 project in Hermiston. I thought this would be an important experience to provide my services and share with you. A commonality between the TRACE-COVID-19 Project and Extension Service is providing the community with resources that may not be present. In this case, OSU provided free COVID-19 tests for residents whose addresses were randomly selected. My role as research assistant was to help a team leader by driving to houses, collect materials and tests needed, and organize and distribute forms.

OSU TRACE-COVID-19 Project vehicle
OSU TRACE-COVID-19 Project vehicle.

From my many work tasks and experiences, I can say that OSU Extension in Umatilla County exceeded my expectations. From providing hands-on experience in the wood shop to youth to providing educational/medical resources to nearby communities, I am truly blown away. I’ve learned that the Extension Service is not only here to help with the Umatilla County Fair, but it provides so much more than I ever thought.

In the beginning of this internship, I feared that my main tasks would revolve around helping with the 4-H program and I would have very little room to explore my interests of community health and education within the surrounding communities. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I am glad that these experiences have proved otherwise. With that said, I am disheartened that my internship experience may not be all that I wished it could have been due to COVID-19. When I say that, I am referring to the return of Umatilla County to baseline status, meaning we were restricted to traveling outside our homes only for necessary travel. This prevented Ruben and I from being able to record videos for our STEM Saturday series that we have been working on this entire internship. This is only another roadblock and based on all the opportunities I have encountered; I am determined to make the most of my remaining weeks working remotely.

Stay safe everyone and remember to practice social distancing and wear your mask!

Daniela Valle recently completed an internship in the OSU Extension office in Wasco County.

Since my last blog post, I have been steadily gaining confidence in my skills as an intern during a public health crisis. My first project was to learn about health communications. Communicating effectively with large groups of people is essential, especially when the information you share can save lives. I’ve learned how to make information clear, easy to access, and culturally appropriate. I made a PSA about COVID-19 that was shared in our community and shared with Extension partners statewide. Knowing that social media plays a significant role in health communications, I formatted these PSAs into Facebook and Instagram stories and posts. They’ve been provided to OSU Extension employees for their social media accounts.

COVID-19 PSA

 

One of the highlights of my days is seeing how the Extension mission is met in the Gorge. Extension is like a bridge that connects communities to abundant resources and knowledge to improve the lives of the youngest children and the oldest adults. I have been amazed to see how my community tackles such a critical health crisis with strong partnerships and cooperation. As I sit in on migrant and seasonal farmworker virtual task force meetings, my peers are a diverse group of health experts, business owners, faith leaders, and volunteers. Although we may all hold different job titles, our desire to serve this community is the same. At the beginning of this journey, I felt underqualified and intimidated by the daunting crisis. Since then, my colleagues have helped me become more comfortable sharing my perspective and engaging in different projects. 

 

Distributing PPE to local growers for their farm workers. PPE is crucial for keeping our farm workers healthy.
Distributing PPE to local growers for their farm workers. PPE is crucial for keeping our farm workers healthy.

My first in-person outreach as an intern was a success. In partnership with the local health departments, I distributed over 500 masks, bandanas, and hand sanitizer for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. That hour was extraordinarily hectic but equally gratifying. It’s true that if you choose a profession you are passionate about, the hard work becomes easy. I was happy to be able to provide these vulnerable populations with the supplies they need to stay safe during the upcoming harvest. As I near the end of my internship, I hope to continue gaining valuable experiences and reflecting on the many lessons I’ve learned so far.

Jensen Comment is an intern in the OSU Extension office in Crook County.

In the wise words of Chris Ledoux, there’s “magic in the air” at the county fair. Growing up, my summers were filled with caramel corn, Saturday night rodeos, and livestock at the fairgrounds. When I first accepted this intern position in early March, I was excited to experience fair from a different perspective and assist in the facilitation of the event. As we all know, over the following weeks life as we knew it began to change. Realistically, I was very dubious of any county in the state successfully pulling off a county fair. While that was a project I had been particularly looking forward to, I was still prepared to work on any other tasks that might come up.

Looking back over the past several months, I can confidently attest to the aptitude and resilience of the Extension staff and faculty in central Oregon. Here in Crook County, the 4-H Program Coordinators and other office staff worked tirelessly to organize a safe and comprehensive county fair. There were countless moments of uncertainty, and the constant nagging knowledge that at any time another COVID-19 mandate could render fair an impossible feat.

One of the first steps towards fair was putting together “COVID kits” for each 4-H club. These contained hand sanitizer, COVID tracking sheets, tape to mark off six-foot increments, and face masks, along with an informational sheet explaining CDC guidelines for the coronavirus. After completing a COVID awareness training, club leaders could pick up these kits and then hold socially-distant club meetings to help everyone prepare for fair.

"COVID" kits for 4-H clubs included hand sanitizer, COVID tracking sheets, tape to mark off six-foot increments, and face masks, along with an informational sheet explaining CDC guidelines for the coronavirus.

4-H record-book checks were held via Zoom. Thanks to the help of volunteers from the community, we were able to interview each youth showing at fair and learn a little about their projects. Since the onset of the pandemic, I have continually been blown away by the technology available to us. The communication opportunities offered through Zoom and other software have been hugely helpful, and I can’t imagine getting through this summer without them.

Slowly but surely, everything began to come together. The 2020 Crook County Fair ran August 2-7. The expanded schedule allowed for lowered density and improved social distancing efforts. Over these six days, the youth were able to show their small animals, swine, sheep, goats, and beef. Each show was livestreamed, allowing friends and family to tune in to support the kids. The auction was virtual, displaying a picture of each market animal and allowing buyers to bid in real time. The following week, we had our static competitions and horse fair. Thanks to the efforts of the Extension staff, the fairgrounds board, the sales committee, and many others in the community, our fair was a success.

Crook County Fair 4-H swine judging
Swine judging at the Crook County Fair. Photo by Samara Rufener.

Working behind the scenes to help make fair happen was an opportunity I won’t soon forget. While the 2020 fair definitely stands apart from years past, we did our best to provide the 4-H and FFA youth with the best possible experience in light of the pandemic. The determination and perseverance I observed in Extension staff was truly inspiring. As I continue on through the upcoming months, I hope to maintain this motivated mindset and provide encouragement for others, as I have been supported during my time in this internship.

Carrie Harris is an intern in the OSU Extension office in Coos County.

Hello again from Coos County!

So far, the internship in Myrtle Point has been an interesting adventure. One of the biggest projects that I have helped my supervisor Elissa Wells with was the 2020 Coos Youth Livestock Auction. We assisted the auction committee in coming up with ways to still have the auction this year while making sure to follow state safety regulations regarding COVID-19.

Carrie Harris (left) helps a 4-H youth exhibitor with weigh-in at the 2020 Coos Youth Livestock Auction.
Carrie Harris (left) helps a 4-H youth exhibitor with weigh-in at the 2020 Coos Youth Livestock Auction.

Since the number of people attending the auction in person needed to be limited, it was decided that the youth wouldn’t attend with their animals. In order to have visual representation of the youth with their projects, both pictures and a video of the youth were displayed on screens during the auction.  I took on the project of putting together one of the presentations to display during the auction.

There were 126 lots to sell, which meant finding the correct picture of the youth on a flash drive and recording the correct name and animal weight onto the presentation. The auction ended up being a success, all the lots sold, and it was amazing to see such a small community come together to support their youth during such a hard time.

Carrie Harris takes bids during the 2020 Coos Youth Livestock Auction.
Carrie Harris takes bids during the 2020 Coos Youth Livestock Auction.

I am seeing the mission of OSU’s Extension Service being met by completing outreach in the community, and still finding ways to complete programs while following state safety regulations. Despite the county fair being canceled, the Extension office was still able to accept the usual static exhibits to be evaluated by judges. The exhibits varied from plants to photography and artwork, baking and sewing and stitching, and even animal pelts. It was cool to see the wide variety of interests that 4-H youth have, and their creativity displayed in their projects.

One of the big learning moments I’ve had so far is being able to talk with some of the other OSU employees and hearing what their position is in the Extension office and what made them interested in working for Extension. It has been interesting learning all the different components that go into the Extension office and all the different ways that it helps the community and the youth in 4-H.

Kasey Purcell recently completed an internship in the OSU Extension office in Tillamook County.

When I began this internship, I didn’t know what to expect. After just finishing my freshmen year of college, and dealing with the struggles COVID threw into the mix, I was eager to work on something that would grasp my full attention. These unprecedented times left me with a lot of anxiety for what the future might hold and I didn’t want that to keep me from working my hardest.

When I finally came to the realization that my internship would not be a normal one, I was a little upset but ready for the challenge. I began with an open mind and no expectations, and I think in the end that was the smartest thing to do.

With this mindset, I was prepared to work on whatever was thrown my way, even if it was outside my wheelhouse. I created two resource guides for Tillamook and Lincoln counties. I created and published/will soon publish six blogs about my time in this internship and nutrition-related topics. I sat in on a wide variety of meetings throughout my 10 weeks. I lent a hand by creating resources for Tillamook County Wellness’s newest campaign. I wrote social media postings, created guides to events and most of all, I learned the true value of Extension Service.

Every aspect of Extension’s work focuses on the education and growth of the agricultural industries in our state. In Tillamook County particularly, I was able to watch how Extension worked to bring inclusivity and new ideas to the health and wellness teams in our community. Going into this internship, I knew nothing about Extension Service. But coming out, I am so thankful for this opportunity. OSU Extension truly has a great mission, and they have yet to stray from it, even after 109 years!

As I make my way back to the University of Hawaii at Manoa for my sophomore year, I hope to take with me these values of education, inclusivity, and being open to new ideas. This time working with Extension, and my supervisor, really showed me what it is like to work in community nutrition. There is so much more to it than creating wellness plans to help a community grow and that was evident to me. I worked on such a diverse range of projects and with people with so many different backgrounds.

I want to thank OSU Extension, my supervisor Dusti Linnell, and all of the community partners I’ve worked with this summer for this opportunity. It truly was a one-of-a-kind experience, and not just because I was able to work in my PJs all day.

Aloha!

Ruben Lopez-Carillo is an intern in the OSU Extension office in Umatilla County.

My hometown of Boardman, Oregon, taught me some valuable life lessons and helped shape me to be the person I am today – a fourth-year student at Oregon State University majoring in animal science and bioresource research. Working out in the farm with my dad starting at age 12 helped me build a strong passion for livestock and agriculture.

Ruben Lopez-Carrillo

My experience with working out in the farm led me to gain an interest in animals and eventually this turned into a career path that I wanted to pursue as a veterinarian. I spent most of my childhood in Boardman but I later moved to Hermiston, Oregon, to finish high school. Moving to another high school gave me an opportunity to attend Oregon State University with all the support I had from teachers and advisors.

Coming to OSU as a first-generation student was a great accomplishment for me and now I get to set an example for my younger siblings. At OSU I’ve been heavily involved in MANRRS: Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. Recently, I was elected to serve as the undergraduate student vice president and national officer for MANRRS the 2020-2021 year. In my free time I like to go on walks with my dogs and I also enjoy playing my guitar.

In my internship I will be working on projects that will provide an educational, hands-on experience for youth. I will also be helping prepare other 4-H events in Umatilla County. One of the 4-H projects I will be working on is aiming towards helping students explore educational activites to do at home so that they continue to stay motivated during these tough times. Additionally I will be assisting in the county fair setup for 4-H animal showings and assist when the event occurs.

Ruben Lopez-Carrillo

My impression of OSU Extension before starting this internship was that I would be helping out with community events and possibly doing some presentations at some point. Some of the community events I was expecting to work with were educational programming in the county with youth. Familiarizing myself with the tasks Extension does for the community is another aspect I expected to learn about.

 

 

Maggie Justice is an intern in the OSU Extension office in Grant County.

One of the first jobs that I was given when I started working in the Grant County Extension office was looking through old records for a community member who is writing a book. At the time, the task seemed a little daunting, especially because these reports spanned 30 years. But at the same time, I was excited because I knew there were treasures hiding in the old boxes and books. For many people, this would have been the most boring task in the world, but to me, it was one of the coolest things I have gotten to do.

Unknown child with his market lamb at the Grant County Fair circa 1950s.
Unknown child with his market lamb at the Grant County Fair circa 1950s. Photo from the Grant County Extension archives.

I grew up living with my great-grandmother, who was about 90 years older than me. From her, I was privileged enough to understand that history is not just dates and events, it is the lives and stories of the people from the past. Her experiences from her past taught me to love history, family, and homemade fudge. Nothing excites me more than looking through the scraps of different people’s life, and to see how different it is from mine.

Grant County Extension ag and 4-H agent Bill Farrell examining soil at a Grant County ranch.
Grant County Extension ag and 4-H agent Bill Farrell examining soil at a Grant County ranch. Photo from the Grant County Extension office archives.

As I looked further into the old Extension reports and photographs, I was surprised to see that at its essence, nothing had really changed. There were still kids competing in livestock and static events, Extension agents working hard to help their community, heck, even the same willow tree was in front of the fairgrounds. Everything was familiar, but at the same time very different. I grew excited when I started recognizing names from people that I had known my entire life. One of the more exciting photos that I stumbled upon was one of my mother and uncle. Though it was a little funny to think of  all these people as 4-H’ers, it made so much more sense about why they wanted to help me as much as they did when I was growing up.

My mom and uncle Donald, showing lambs in the early 1980s.
My mom and uncle Donald, showing lambs in the early 1980s. Photo from Grant County Extension office archives.

Looking through the old photographs allowed me to have a clearer image of what Extension does for its communities, because they showed that from the beginning, Extension is helping. I have seen all the hard work that the Grant County office has put into this summer’s modified youth static and livestock exhibits, and I know that they are trying to really make a difference in our community. It’s not an easy task, but every year, they make it look easy, and make it a beloved event for everyone in the community.

Hello From Coos County! I’m Carrie Harris, and I’m a part of the inaugural cohort of the Oregon State University Extension Service interns.

Carrie Harris

I’m currently a student at Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Oregon, studying pre-nursing and hoping to get accepted into the nursing program this upcoming February. I grew up in Myrtle Point, Oregon, which is also where I will be working this summer alongside my supervisor Elissa Wells.

I have always lived in Myrtle Point and grew up heavily involved in various aspects of the community. In fourth grade I joined the Coos County 4-H program, eventually becoming a youth representative and 4-H ambassador as well as an active member and camp counselor during the summer. I competed in sports throughout high school as well, primarily enjoying cross-country and track. I was also involved in the Myrtle Point FFA chapter, eventually becoming the chapter reporter and chapter president.

Carrie Harris getting ready to show her cow at the fair.

Myrtle Point is a very small town, with a population of around 2,550. Being such a small town, and my involvement in so many different activities, I quickly became known as the one to go to if anyone was looking for help. I attended school board meetings and gave reports on athletics and the FFA chapter, as well as visited elementary classes to help educate them about nutrition and agriculture. I have always been invested in helping better my community and am looking forward to the opportunity to do so this summer through the internship.

Throughout the summer I will primarily be helping with the 4-H program in Coos County, but I also hope to incorporate community activities into the internship as well. My first impression of the OSU Extension Service was that it was heavily involved in community wellness and leadership opportunities. I always appreciated the skills that 4-H taught me, and hope to find new ways to better the community. I am excited for the new experiences this summer will bring!

Carrie Harris showing a cow.

Hello! My name is Anita McNally. Currently, I’m enjoying my final years at Oregon State University majoring in environmental science and minoring in German. I was born and raised in the East Bay in Concord, California.

Anita McNally

Other than constantly playing competitive soccer, I found my passion for the environment in my family’s camping and fly-fishing trips as well as my active lifestyle as I grew up.

Although I’ve always been in awe of nature, especially on kayaking trips or while hiking, learning how to fly fish taught me the importance of diversity in an ecosystem.

Anita McNally shows a recently caught trout.

There are many different types of organisms that trout eat, and every ecosystem is unique in its own way through the different types of hatches that occur or its habitat. Due to my passion in nature and fly fishing, I became more aware as well as intrigued of how humans can cause a negative effect these ecosystems and solutions to prevent that.

In my internship at OSU Extension, I’m working in Lincoln County’s Extension office with the Master Gardener and small farms programs, and Sea Grant Extension’s commercial fishing, crabbing, and clamming specialists. Through these programs I am connecting consumers with local and sustainable producers through publicity and social media. I will be working professionally with others to promote local and sustainable foods, which not only helps our local economy, but our environment as well. Although COVID brought some unforeseen changes to my internship, such as leading Shop the Dock and working on site, I will still get the most out of my internship at home, virtually.

Before I joined Extension, I didn’t know much about the program. When I was younger, I was in 4-H for two years in the rabbit project and veterinary science program. Other than 4-H I was unaware of how big OSU Extension was and how much more it is involved in the community beyond 4-H. I’m excited to learn more about OSU Extension and how it connects to its community in general as well as in an environmental way.

Anita McNally holds a crab.

Hello, I’m Joseph O’Brien and I’m originally from Ripon, California. I moved to Boardman, Oregon, in 2016. I’m attending Eastern Oregon University, majoring in health and human performance with a concentration in exercise science. This fall, I will also be attending the Oregon Health and Science University School of Nursing. After I graduate with these undergraduate degrees, I plan to become a travel nurse and go to different Native American tribal clinics within Oregon. After that, I would like to relocate to a small community within Oregon and work in a hospital or local community clinic.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family (one brother, three sisters, two nieces, and one nephew), getting together with close friends, eating good food, playing volleyball, hiking, and engaging in other outside activities. Additionally, I’ve enjoyed raising livestock through the 4-H youth organization and FFA. In the future, I would like to become a 4-H project leader and volunteer with the youth in the community I reside in.

 

During my time in the Umatilla County Extension office, I’ll be working closely with my fellow intern, Ruben Lopez, and our supervisor, Anna Browne. Throughout this internship, Ruben and I will be creating videos for “STEM Saturday.” These will consist of water-based video experiments presented by us for youth in the community to complete at home. Also, we will be working hand and hand with the Umatilla County Fair to provide a safe and fun experience for those attending.

Some responsibilities while helping at the fair would include screening individuals for COVID-19, making sure everyone complies with mask rules, helping youth find where and when they will be showing their livestock animal, helping youth find where they will be presenting a project, helping adult volunteers set-up areas for livestock, project presentations, etc. Lastly, we will be learning about OSU Extension Service and all the resources/knowledge that it provides within Umatilla County. This new knowledge will surround how the OSU Extension implements its programs within the county, how it addresses the specific community needs, and the history/foundation of this service.

When I first heard about this internship opportunity with the OSU Extension Service, I imagined that I would be mainly helping at the Umatilla and Morrow County Fair with the youth organization 4-H. Further, I thought I would be mainly working in the office on the computer working with community members, agriculturists, and farmers in the area. After orientation and the first week of working, I realized that the OSU Extension Service here in Umatilla County provides many resources and opportunities for everyone. For instance, the different programs like 4-H, home garden and landscape research information, forestry/natural resource materials and on-line workshops, and much more that I have yet to explore.