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. 

 

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, I am Cydney Stables and this is my last week as an intern for the OSU Extension Communications office. As I am wrapping up the last week of my internship, I have taken some time to think about all the amazing opportunities this summer has provided me. Throughout this journey, I have learned a number of life skills that not only relate directly to my majors but also to any career path I choose to take.

During my internship, I had the opportunity to rotate among four teams in the Extension communications office: news and public issues, marketing, web and content strategy and publishing. While each team brought a new perspective to the overall outlook of the Extension communications department, I also had the opportunity to complete new and exciting tasks.

Cydney Stables

Some of my favorite projects this summer included:

  • Traveling across the state to explore county Extension offices.
  • Writing and publishing a news release.
  • Developing a 4-H postcard, brochure and templates.
  • Adding publications to the Extension website.
  • Creating and conducting an activity to help Extension with web organization.
  • Formatting the main Extension website topic pages.
  • Creating a social media plan to promote publications.
  • Editing various web articles.
  • Voting on my favorite T-shirt design to use as promotional material.
4-H instructional sheet template designed by Cydney Stables.

This list may seem long but there have been so many other tasks that have taught me new things, brought me out of my comfort zone, and helped me learn tips and tricks for my future success.

While working towards all of these goals, I also had the opportunity to work with interns in county offices on their blog posts. By reading each post I felt like I experienced an even broader perspective of the work Extension programs do. Being the intern for central Extension communications has provided me with an outlook on Extension from a new perspective.

My internship overall has been a great learning experience. By rotating among the different communications teams, I had the opportunity to learn a wide variety of skills including problem solving, seeking out advice, using outside resources, thinking outside the box, as well as drafting and revising.

I have had the opportunity to develop great connections among each employee in the office and work with different teams, different personalities, work environments and new and exciting tasks.

I have seen the hierarchy it takes to run a strong outreach organization and while leaders are important, every member of every office is just as important. Extension needs a communications network to bring the actions and efforts of county employees to the eyes of legislators while communicators need county employees to do the work and perform the outreach.

Instagram post for nutrition publication designed by Cydney Stables.

From traveling around that state at the beginning of my internship – seeing the day-to-day functions of county Extension employees – to working on central communications teams and even meeting important program leaders my internship has provided me with a well-rounded outlook of the tiered functionality of the Extension program in the state of Oregon. Growing up in Yamhill County I had the opportunity to call the Extension 4-H program home and I hope to someday work, volunteer or participate in the outreach of Extension, now and into the future.

I would like to thank all of the people I have had the opportunity to work with. It has been amazing to see how each team functions to bring together the value of Extension as a whole. Every individual is important in making an impact on the public, educating youths, connecting communities and empowering individuals. This internship has shown me what the purpose of Extension truly is from all levels. I have developed a great appreciation for county workers who assisted me in all my years through the 4-H program, for legislators and county commissioners who allocate the funding to support impactful programs, and for volunteers, staff, and faculty whose purpose it is to serve our communities.

Hi there! My name is Crystal Kelso, and I’m working this summer with Teagan Moran, small farms outreach coordinator in Linn, Lane, and Benton counties. One of my projects is researching and putting together resources for military veteran famers for our region and statewide. My big project is organizing the Military Veteran Farm Tour Series. I’m really excited about this because working with veterans in the field and on farms is something that means a lot to me, and something that I really enjoy. The veterans I’ve talked with are also really excited to be part of the tour and getting connected with fellow veteran farmers in Oregon.

Crystal Kelso

Other than organizing the Veteran Farm Tour Series, I’ve been working on updating the links and resources for some of the pages on the OSU Small Farms website, such as the drought, fire, flood, disaster relief and resilience programs page and the and wildfires page. I’ve attended a Willamette Women’s Farm Network Medicinal Herb Farm Tour as well and met some amazing ladies who are growing herbs and flowers. I’m going to be putting together a booklet with recipes using herbs and flowers from the group too! Last week, I worked the Extension booths at both the Linn and Lane County fairs.

I look forward to meeting the veteran farmers in person on the tours and making some lasting connections both with them and the herb group. This has been a great opportunity for me so far, and I’m enjoying being part of the team!

Ahad Aziz (from left) with fellow interns Briauna Herrick and Kelci Free at a nitrate testing table at the Corvallis Farmers Market.

Hey everyone! My name is Ahad Aziz, and I am from Tigard, Oregon. I just recently graduated from Oregon State with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and have a few more classes until I also finish my Bachelor of Science in public health with a focus in health management and policy. I’m on track to graduate in December, and I will still be at Oregon State, working on a Master of Business Administration degree. My background is definitely different than most of the other OSU Extension interns. Still, I’m glad to be able to provide that unique and “outsider” perspective to the Extension service and groundwater protection program in the mid-Willamette Valley.

So far, I have worked at four well-water testing clinics and have many more to be a part of for the rest of the summer. My specific intern project is working with the medical community in the area, mainly from Salem to Eugene, and providing health care professionals with the knowledge to best support their patients who rely on well water. I’ve found that there’s a disconnect between health care providers and their rural patients as not many of them realize that some symptoms that their patients come in with might have something to do with nitrate or other unhealthy things in the water.

With that being said, I’m going to shamelessly plug the fact that if you live in the mid-Willamette Valley, you can get your well water tested at an OSU Extension office near you! Just bring half-a-cup of water in a clean cup to Extension offices in Benton, Lane, Linn, Marion and Polk counties, Monday through Friday, during normal business hours, and we’ll get your water tested for nitrate. I’ll be at the office in Benton County if you want to meet me personally, or to give me life advice because I have no idea what I want to do with my future.

I’ll talk to you guys again in September!

Briauna Herrick

Hey there! My name is Briauna Herrick, and I grew up in Springfield, Oregon. I just finished my third year at Oregon State University, where I am majoring in agricultural sciences. I decided on this major because agriculture was something I had grown up involved in, and it just seemed familiar and natural. I grew up on my family’s farm in Springfield, where we have a produce stand and grow a wide variety of crops throughout the year. I’m on track to graduate after the winter term of 2023.

As I have pursued my degree, my passion for agricultural industry has grown. I have had many opportunities to get involved through classes, clubs and jobs. Outside of classes I am involved with two clubs on campus. I served as the treasurer for the Collegiate Farm Bureau club and was just elected president for the upcoming school year. I am also a part of a ministry group called Cru and am currently serving on the leadership team this year. Through my involvement with Cru, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to El Salvador in March where we installed water filters for many families and got to know individuals in different communities. I have been involved with both organizations for the past three years and they have showed me the importance of sharing my direct experience with agriculture and surrounding myself with community.

This summer I am interning with Chrissy Lucas, Extension groundwater protection specialist and outreach coordinator in Extension’s groundwater protection and education program. Since starting my internship a few weeks ago, I have been to two nitrate screenings, learned a lot about wells and septic tanks, cut and stamped many postcards, and learned how to use the copier. More recently, I have been busy with collecting information about wells and septic systems in other counties and preparing for upcoming nitrate screenings. I have scheduled a few nitrate screenings and am looking forward to holding one at my family’s farm later this summer. The past few weeks have consisted of many emails, scheduling events and staying organized.

Before this internship I thought of Extension as a resource for the agricultural industry, but I didn’t know that so much goes into the job. It’s been fun learning more about Extension as a whole and meeting new people. There is a lot of networking, planning, and communicating. I’ve got a busy summer ahead of me and am looking forward to what is to come!

Hi everyone!

My name is Kelci Free, and I am from Scio, Oregon. I recently graduated from OSU with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences and a minor in agriculture education, with plans to attend graduate school at OSU this fall as a part of the agricultural education master’s program. I hope to become an Extension agent after completing this internship and completing the graduate program.

Kelci Free designed a graphic to advertise an Extension event

For the second summer in a row my internship is with the Extension groundwater protection and education program in the mid-Willamette Valley. So far, I have been busy at work planning out events schedule for the summer. I will be hosting various nitrate screenings at farmers markets, county Extension offices, and even a neighborhood screening. I will continue to grow my skills in networking, advertising for programming, and creating programming in order to gain more experience in what it takes to be an Extension agent.

Before starting my internship last summer, I had really only thought about Extension helping farmers and putting on county fairs. Over the last year I have had the opportunity to see how much more Extension has to offer no matter your interests or backgrounds through its various programs.

Hello everyone!

This is my second-to-last week interning for OSU Extension Service this summer. The summer has gone by so quickly and I am sad to see this experience come to an end. I came into this internship with some experience coordinating social media for SNAP-Ed’s Food Hero Program but ended up learning so much more than just scheduling and posting content.

Eradicating powdery mildew Instagram graphic I made using information from an Extension Ask an Expert question.

Throughout my internship, I have been able to meet with different social media coordinators from other Extension programs and was taught many new skills and strategies for reaching Extension’s audience. I enjoyed the process of brainstorming content to share across our social media platforms and learning more about which types of graphics and posts receive more engagement. Looking at our platform’s analytics to track engagement and audience reach, I found it very helpful when determining what and when to post our content. While my work for Extension Communications largely focused on content development, I thoroughly enjoyed learning and seeing how Extension is impacting the community through other Extension counties’ social media and hearing about programs from summer interns. One of the projects I was excited to see finished was launching OSU Extension’s Instagram account. This was a longer process than I originally thought but I was very pleased with how much support and help I received with the start of the account. Although I am finishing my internship in a week, I am eager to see the growth of the account in months to come. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out!

Eradicating powdery mildew Instagram graphic I made using information from an Extension Ask an Expert question.

Before my internship, I did not know a lot about what resources and Extension has for the community. But, through researching and brainstorming content for our platforms, I was quickly introduced to an abundance of resources and programs Extension has to offer. My favorite thing I learned is how Extension has something for everyone. Whether you are a home gardener, commercial farmer, youth in 4-H, a fisherman, etc … there is helpful information for anyone. OSU Extension is seriously a go-to resource for Oregonians and is significantly impacting the community through research-based information. Our community would not be the same without the work Extension provides for our counties. If you have not gotten to be involved with Extension, I encourage you to join a program or visit our website to learn how Extension can serve your needs.

While I am hoping to pursue a career in the medical field I hope to stay involved with Extension, whether it be volunteering or maybe working with Extension’s nutrition education programs I am confident that this internship will not be my last experience with Extension’s work. This experience taught me so much and I cannot be more grateful for the opportunity I had with the Extension Communications office.

Alli Studnick here, writing from the OSU Extension office in Benton County. Since my last blog I have been doing more than just testing water at local farmers markets. Weeks back, the Yamhill 4-H Agent contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing herdsmanship judging for their county fair at the beginning of August. I agreed and spent three days at the fair judging herdsmanship and then also judging the swine master showmanship rounds, too. It was a lot of fun going to a fair I have never been to before. I learned a lot about how much 4-H agents do, all the coordination, and how they deal with all the things that might not go as planned during a county fair. I also realized I might not be cut out to be a 4-H coordinator like I thought … they definitely don’t have the easiest job!  

During that same week I also did nitrate testing at the Stayton Farmers Market. I did 45 tests, drove close to 200 miles, and worked almost 13 hours. I have never been so tired in my life, but now that I look back on it, I am glad I experienced a day like that because the life of an Extension agent isn’t just an 8-to-5 day. 

Three weeks ago we went to Polk County to help with their Cultivating tent at the Polk County Fair. This was the week of the extreme heat so it was hot, but it was really fun to see the kids making bracelets and painting rocks, and the adults grabbing flyers and brochures about all the important things like taking care of streams and rivers, where to test your soil and water, and much more! Again, it was awesome to attend another county fair and learn more about how the different counties in Oregon do things when it comes to the fair.  

Judging at the Yamhill County Fair.
Judging at the Yamhill County Fair.

One thing I seem to forget often is that not all the people who come to Extension with questions are landowners, farmers, ranchers, and small farm owners. But they also teach the people who don’t have acreage or livestock. The people who want to learn about how they can provide habitat for native pollinators or learning about what to do if there was to be a wildfire, or if someone wants to learn how to can fruits and vegetables. OSU Extension provides classes for almost everything you can think of, and they are available to more than just rural residents. Which is the one thing I want people to know about OSU Extension. These people are here to help and to bring a smile to your face. To answer your calls and emails, or any questions you might have. Whether you live on thousands of acres or just a small lot in town, use your local Extension offices to your advantage, they are always there to lend a helping hand.  

This job revolves around service, and you can tell that the employees just want to help people and many of them jump head-first to do so. I have learned that to be an Extension agent you have to have stamina but good pacing because it’s not a race, it’s a marathon! It is so easy to go all in, and really tire yourself out quickly. I can now see why Extension faculty have a hard time with work-life balance. I also understand why people stay in this career for so long, because they enjoy their communities, the people in them, and making a difference. Which is why Extension is so special to me. 

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to continue with the groundwater quality education program long after my summer internship. Chrissy Lucas-Woodruff, my supervisor, has allowed me to continue my time with her by letting me shadow her during my year-long agriculture education master’s degree program which begins in late September. So, if you need questions answered about your well or septic or want your well water tested, I’ll be here at the Benton County Extension office in Corvallis for the next six months!