Maggie Justice recently completed an internship in the OSU Extension office in Grant County.

When I was growing up, the worst week of the summer was not right before school started, but instead the week after our county fair. The whirlwind of fair prep and fair was over just as quickly as it began, and all we could do was wait for the dust to settle. Everything was uncharacteristically quiet, something that would drive my young mind crazy, but did allow for proper reflection over the work that had been done, and how it would continue in the next year.

I guess the same could be said for this year, after all the preparation and stress, I have this time to reflect on what I have done over the summer, and what I want others to glean from my experience.

Our local “fair” went off without a hitch, even though it was almost unrecognizable from the fairs I grew up with. The kids showed their animals wearing masks, and every couple days each livestock group, instead of staying on site for the whole fair, were there only on showmanship and auction days.

A youth shows his grand champion market pen.
A youth shows his grand champion market pen.
Youth competing in the overall champion poultry showmanship. Photo by Tracy Wyllie.
Youth competing in the overall champion poultry showmanship. Photo Photo by Tracy Wyllie.

While it was easy to keep busy, I definitely missed the bustle of a filled barn. It was wonderful to see how supportive our community is towards its youth, respecting the rules that were set up, while still being able to watch livestreamed livestock shows. Members of the community also made sure every kid got a good price on their animal, making this auction the best one our community has ever seen.

My sister, Ellie, won the highest award given in the county, the Delley Officer Award for sportsmanship and hard work. On the right is Delley’s brother, Scott.
My sister, Ellie, won the highest award given in the county, the Delley Officer Award for sportsmanship and hard work. On the right is Delley’s brother, Scott.

A lot of hard work went into making a nice event for the 4-H and FFA kids in our community. There was careful planning that went into every detail, from the awards given, to the set-up of the barn, and most importantly, the careful maneuvering of each show.

There were a lot of things during the summer that I learned about, which were completely unexpected. For one, I learned how much the details matter, especially when planning an event that has many guidelines and regulations. Detailing minute details of shows was a foreign concept, but something that was definitely a useful skill that I will continue to use in my life moving forward. I also learned the value of working on a team, seeing that there are many entities and parts that make an event into something great. Also, I learned that I really do care about hand sanitizer texture, because some of that stuff is gross.

On a more serious note, my summer as an OSU Extension intern was something that was extremely wonderful for me and gave me nothing but good experiences and skills. I think that many people today do not fully comprehend how much Extension offices contribute and help the community, because they truly do a lot that goes unnoticed. As I think about our livestock and static shows, I think that truly shapes what Extension strives for. That people from all walks of life can come together for the betterment of their community. I feel so blessed that I got to be a part of something this awesome, and I hope that I can continue to help others through Extension.

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 World! My name is Maggie Justice and I’m the student intern for the Extension office in Grant County, which is in John Day. I’m also a junior at Walla Walla University where I am studying biology with hopes becoming a large and small animal veterinarian.

I was born and raised in John Day by two Grant County natives. My mom is an ex-logger who now owns a plant nursery.  And my dad works for a Coca-Cola distribution company and on the weekends works our family’s cattle herd. I also have two younger sisters. Ellie, who just graduated high school, will attend Eastern Oregon University in the fall. My youngest sister, Abbie, will be a freshman at Grant Union Jr. /Sr. High School and is an excellent baker. Growing up on a weird nursery/farm allowed my sisters and myself a life surrounded by animals, plants, and a healthy dose of chaos.

Any free time and hobbies I have acquired over the years typically revolve around animals. Since I was 9 years old, I’ve raised cattle, and recently I fulfilled a life-long dream when I purchased my first registered British white heifer named Odessa. I also have a red border collie named Clifford, who loves to pretend that he is a cow dog, but in reality would rather spend his time eating snow or being dragged around on one strange hike or another. But whenever I’m not around my animals, I am hanging out with friends, hiking, and talking about my animals.


The major work that I will be doing at the Grant County Extension office is to assist the staff with 4-H and Snap-Ed events. Normally this would include several 4-H sponsored camps that occur every year in our county, but due to COVID, our major focus is preparation for our upcoming youth static and livestock exhibit events. During the pandemic, planning for these events looks completely different, but I am confident that no matter what the outcome, we will have events that are unforgettable.

I must admit, before I started this internship, I had already had a pretty good idea of what my job would be, because I worked for the Extension office the summer of 2018. I really enjoyed the work because I got to help kids with their 4-H projects and help contribute to the fair I have always loved.

My true “first” experience with extension is from my 4-H and FFA days, where I thought it was one of the most important jobs ever. My life changed completely when I joined 4-H and truly made me into the person that I am today. They are the ones who help shape kids into strong competent individuals. Extension helps them find their passions and teaches them life-long skills. I cannot believe that I am privileged enough to work for a place that serves such an important task for both the community and its youth.