Hi everyone! My name is Annie Keene and I am going to be graduating this fall at Oregon State University. I am from Thousand Oaks, California, and I’m currently doing a remote internship with OSU Extension Communications in Corvallis. I am majoring in nutrition and dietetics and will be applying for a dietetic internship this year to hopefully become a registered dietitian. In the future, I hope to use my education to help people in my community improve their health and wellness through nutrition education and medical nutrition therapy.

Some of my interests include cooking, hiking, and exploring different coastal towns and coffee shops. Since living in Oregon, I have been able to see some beautiful places and trails. Most recently, I enjoyed visiting the Cape Perpetua lookout and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. This summer, I hope to do some more hiking at Smith Rock and trails near Mt. Rainier.

During my internship, I will be working in Extension Communications on social media coordination and publishing intern blogs on this site. I will be working closely with the social media team to draft, schedule, and upload content onto OSU Extension’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. I will also be working on launching an Instagram account for Extension with the help of our social media team and staff. I’m looking forward to meeting with other social media managers of other Extension programs and OSU staff to gain insight into their experience and expertise with running multiple social media platforms.

Prior to this internship, I did not have a lot of experience with OSU Extension and am still very new to learning about what Extension has to offer. I had some experience with Extension through my role as a student outreach assistant for Oregon SNAP-Ed’s Food Hero program. Working with Food Hero has connected me with other Extension staff from Family and Community Health programs and gave me some insight into some of their work in the community.

This summer, I am excited to continue learning about Extension and sharing its resources through my work with the communications team!

Adrian Gallo, a graduate student at OSU, recently completed an internship in the Extension Communications office.

Oregon State University Extension programs reach into Oregon’s communities and help people of all ages, even if they don’t recognize it. Now approaching the end of my program, I’ve written about nutritional programs for underserved communities near metro areas and a new soilborne wheat virus affecting farmers in the sparsely populated drylands of eastern Oregon. No matter your geographic location, we are all connected, and Extension helps us to remember that fact.

Helping communities is at the center of Extension work, and it’s exemplified in our Master Naturalist programs. These programs help to educate Oregonians about the natural world around them, through field tours and site visits. This program encourages participants to contribute to community science efforts as well as promoting volunteer hours in the community where they did their field program – even if it isn’t their own place of residence.

One of the Master Naturalist programs often enrolls Portland-area residents for a course in the Klamath-Siskiyou mountains. After the weekend field tour, they continued returning to the area for recreation and volunteering. In the process of learning more about their state, they were also contributing to the southwestern Oregon economy. This increase in tourism and ecological awareness from others around the state may help keep smaller communities more stable in the long run.

In addition to connecting disparate communities that otherwise may not interact, Extension also supports the individual needs of tight-knit communities. For example, I wrote about one 4-H program specifically aims to teach Latinx children the importance of healthy eating as they are more likely to have issues with food security. Another 4-H initiative I wrote about helped save a middle school cross-country program from going defunct allowing more home-schoolers to also join. I also wrote about an even more ambitious endeavor by Extension faculty to work alongside Indigenous communities to make higher education more accessible to their citizens.

As a student, it’s easy to get wrapped up in Corvallis culture. As a research scientist, it’s all too common to try and keep the blinders on to other distractions in the world. After all, we only have so much time in the day. But even with my short time in Extension Communications, I’m learning about all the positive impacts Extension has throughout the state – impacts that wouldn’t be possible without leveraging the institutional and academic power of OSU. So, as an Oregon resident, I’m grateful to know Extension is constantly trying to make positive impact, and we should continue advocating on its behalf.

Adrian Gallo (right), part of the inaugural cohort of the Oregon State University Extension Service Interns, interned at the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
Adrian Gallo (right), part of the inaugural cohort of the Oregon State University Extension Service Interns, interned at the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Courtesy Adrian Gallo.

It was a five-hour drive every Fourth of July across California’s San Juaquin Valley to the Sierra Nevada mountains where my father would take me backpacking. The drive transitioned from the perfectly smooth and manicured agriculture fields glistening in the sun, to the chunky granite rock outcrops where water limitations and minimal soil nutrients produced plant life that fought for survival. Surrounded by scraggly trees and big mountains on those backpacking trips are what made me curious about the ecosystems in danger from climate change. Just as important, what a changing climate meant for people who depend on the land.

Granite Lake in the Desolation Wilderness remains one of my favorite places in the Sierras. Depending on the snow year, alpine lakes don't always melt out by the Fourth of July.
Granite Lake in the Desolation Wilderness remains one of my favorite places in the Sierras. Depending on the snow year, alpine lakes don’t always melt out by the Fourth of July. Courtesy Adrian Gallo.

I’m Adrian Gallo and I’m a part of the inaugural cohort of the Oregon State University Extension Service interns. As a young teenager I loved being outside to play soccer or go hiking, no doubt as a result of those backpacking trips. I also had a curiosity for chemistry and biology. Studying soil science was the avenue I found to connect both my outdoor hobbies and academic interests. By understanding how the soil functions underfoot, and the ecosystem built on top of them, we can predict what land managers need to do in the face of a rapidly shifting climate. Nearing the end of my undergraduate degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I became more intrigued by the fundamentals of soil science. By asking more questions I realized I was hitting the edge of knowledge that my professors, and the discipline, were able to offer.

My curiosity led me to pursue graduate school to try and push the knowledge boundary forward. After internships with the USDA Forest Service in Alaska and Oregon, I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. Growing up under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge I never would have predicted how much I love the rain, thick moss and the evergreen hillsides that are ubiquitous in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon State University has one of the best forestry schools in the world, so I applied to graduate school focusing on forest soil carbon cycling. Even before I arrived at OSU, my goals were to use the knowledge gained about soils and climate change to help people.

Working in the Tongass National Forest as a soil scientist, our work commute sometimes involved being helicoptered into remote areas, being dropped off in flat alpine wetlands called muskegs, to examine forests and the soils of the surrounding area. My co-worker Jerome Barner waves goodbye for the day.
Working in the Tongass National Forest as a soil scientist, our work commute sometimes involved being helicoptered into remote areas, being dropped off in flat alpine wetlands called muskegs, to examine forests and the soils of the surrounding area. My co-worker Jerome Barner waves goodbye for the day. Photo by Adrian Gallo.

One of my first experiences with the OSU Extension Service was a faculty candidate describe her research as the “the intersection between humans and the environment.” Where the (research) rubber meets the (real-life) road. As I came to learn, Extension is more than just agriculture – it also includes marine science through Oregon Sea Grant,  forestry through the Forestry and Natural Resources Program, Family and Community Health, and youth leadership through 4-H and other programs.

At OSU, I’ve co-hosted a science communication podcast, Inspiration Dissemination, a platform for graduate students to describe their ongoing research. I’ve enjoyed that process more than I could have imagined; connecting the science done by people to the people who the science can help. I’ll have a similar approach this summer in the Extension and Experiment Station Communications office. I’ll write about Extension research performed both on campus and across the state, so that Oregonians can see how our efforts should make them proud of our fellow Beavers.