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.
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!