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! 

What a summer. With my internship at Lane County 4-H beginning to wrap, reflecting upon my experience these past eight weeks has been insightful. If last year you had told me I would be spending my summer serving as a small animal judge at the Lane County Fair and setting off two dozen Alka-Seltzer volcanos I would have thought you were crazy.  

Maya Casper (from left) with Lane County 4-H faculty Melinda Garcia and Elizabeth Gangwer.

This summer I made Tofu smoothies with second-graders, learned to run a fair management software, and became an expert on the Danish scoring system, which we use to judge livestock and static projects at the fair. While it might not sound like it, all of these unique experiences have contributed to a further understanding of what it takes to serve the needs and wants of the Eugene and surrounding Lane County communities. 

This experience has provided clarification for my professional goals post-graduation, and has provided insight into the work environment in which I hope to pursue. Pushing myself outside of  my comfort zone and working in this position, which I might not have previously considered, served as highly insightful for my professional development. If I would have stayed within my comfort zone I would have not had the experience to meet families and kids where they are, understanding their needs and intentions in a way that’s impossible solely from a classroom. It has taught me a lot about flexibility, and adaptability and reiterated my respect for the sacrifices parents make for their children. 

I want to thank everyone at OSU Extension for creating this opportunity and Lane County for hosting me this summer. 

Hey there, my name is Molly Benjamin, and I am currently working with the OSU Extension SNAP-Ed program in the OSU Extension office in Eugene. I live here full-time, and I am close to receiving my bachelor’s degree in family and human services from the University of Oregon. I have always been passionate about working with people, but in the last two years I have found a niche that I quite love: cooking, food and nutritional education.

Growing up, cooking has always been close to my heart. My mom went to culinary school and she now runs a catering company, so I was often around to learn and help. Over the years, my interest in cooking has grown exponentially, and I am so thankful that she has gifted me an appreciation for fresh food and taught me just how nourishing it can be to make your own meals. I was much pickier than the kids I have been working with this summer, however. From the ages of 9-16 I turned my nose at things like raw onions, beets and tomatoes. I have been so pleasantly surprised to see how willing the kids have been to try new foods. I think that growing your appreciation for delicious, fresh veggies can open a whole new world of food and remove the negative connotations that children may have with vegetables in particular.

Vegetables in paper containers on a table.
Preparing fresh vegetables to make Farmers Market Salsa at the Bethel Farm Summer Camp.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed) has truly been a perfect opportunity to get real-world experience in teaching cooking lessons and the importance of eating a diverse and nutritious diet. So far, my fellow intern Ivan Gonzales and I have worked for a few weeks at the Bethel Farm Summer Camp, and I recently finished teaching at Riverbend Elementary School in Springfield. I loved the opportunity to teach knife skills, measuring techniques, and food etiquette because I believe they are lifetime skills. After working at the Bethel Farm Summer Camp, the leader Jessica told us that multiple parents had reported that their kids showed more interest in cooking and trying new foods. That alone was so gratifying to hear!

I loved working with Extension this summer, and I hope to find some good ideas for next year’s interns!

My name is Ivan Gonzales, and I am an intern this summer in the OSU Extension SNAP-Ed program in the Extension office in Lane County. I am majoring in family human services at the University of Oregon in Eugene. I am 21 and have recently discovered a passion for healthy living. I love getting my daily physical activity though a variety of different activities and I even teach physical education through the YMCA. I have been a vegetarian for about 10 years for health, ethical, and environmental reasons.

Two people standing in the shade at an outdoor work station
Ivan Gonzalez (left) and fellow intern Molly Benjamin.

There are very clear expectations about how to present and perform at this internship. There were many online training sessions to prepare us, as well. My fellow Extension intern Molly Benjamin and I have taught three groups of kids three different recipes at the Bethel Farm Summer Camp in Eugene. The recipes were fresh garden salsa, vegetable wontons, and smoothies with a super-secret vegetable ingredient. Bethel Farm Summer Camp is an amazing experience that is completely free for Bethel School District students entering fourth and fifth grades. At the camp they have cooking, gardening, beekeeping, arts and crafts and nature exploration. All of the kids were taught measuring skills, knife skills and kitchen safety.

After teaching at the camp we transitioned to teaching cooking at Riverbend Elementary School in Springfield. We had two sessions of kindergartners at Riverbend and then incoming fourth-graders. The kindergarteners learned measuring skills and handwashing skills with a trail mix recipe while the fourth-graders learned knife skills and other basic kitchen skills with the fresh garden salsa recipe.

We are now transitioning away from teaching cooking and more into office and community work. The office work mainly consists of organizing and planning for our community work. We are planning to go to some local food banks and hand out samples of some of Extension Food Hero zucchini recipes and give information about healthy eating and answer any other questions individuals may have. I am excited to see what other community programs we will get involved in as well such as farmers markets and food donation sites.

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!

Maya Casper

Hi everyone, my name is Maya. I just concluded my first year at OSU where I am in the master’s of public health program, with the health behavior and health promotion option. I will be spending my summer interning with the OSU Extension 4-H program in Lane County. As a previous 4-H member and volunteer this has been a wonderful opportunity to get involved with positive youth development

During the school year, I work with the OSU Center for Health Innovation on the OSU-OHA Surge Epi Bench, collaborating on the COVID-19 response. I am so excited to have a break from work with COVID-19 response this summer and get out to work with youth in my community.

I am passionate about expanding early childhood education programs and child and family social policy. This experience working with 4-H in Lane County has been insightful for my understanding of the importance of advocating for continued local, state and federal funding for youth programming. Reading peer-reviewed articles is one thing but working alongside the community in providing these services has served as an invaluable experience.

Lane County 4-H has been so kind as to trust me with their social media page for the duration of my internship. This opportunity to expand my experience utilizing social media for health promotion and community outreach and engagement has been highly valuable.

I cannot thank enough all of the wonderful staff at OSU Lane County Extension for being so kind and welcoming. I look forward to updating everyone on the jam-packed summer to come. Keep an eye out for us at the Lane County Fair and our upcoming summer day camps.

Go Beavs!


The OSU Extension - Lane County table at the fair.
The OSU Extension – Lane County table at the fair.

Hello everyone! Ally Hand here, writing from Lane County. Lane County had its county fair two weeks ago and I had a blast helping out with things behind the scenes. We set up everything on Monday and Tuesday to be ready for the fair opening on Wednesday. It was exciting seeing everything come together. First, we set up the 4-H static exhibit. If you are unfamiliar with 4-H, static exhibits are the projects such as photography, drawing, sewing, baking, jewelry making, flower arrangements, and educational displays. I took some time making the baked goods display look presentable and it was pretty hard to not take a nibble out of all of the delicious-looking entries.

A curious goat at the fair.
A curious goat at the fair.

The next task I helped with was during 4-H animal check-in. When the animals arrive at the fairgrounds, they have to pass a vet check in order to get off of their trailer. After passing a vet check, they are weighed and then taken to their pens. It was fun watching the kids get their animals settled in, as I had never seen that side of fair before. I enjoyed seeing the variety of animals that were at the fair this year.

During one of the showmanship shows, I handed out ribbons to the kids which were fun to do as well. 4-H uses the Danish merit system for awarding youth at the fair. At first, it was a bit hard to understand, but I have a much better understanding of it now.

One learning moment that I had while helping with the fair was to listen to all sides of an issue before making a decision. My supervisor, Elizabeth Gangwer, a 4-H program coordinator in Lane County, had to make the final decision, and I was very impressed with how level-headed she was.

I am seeing the mission of OSU Extension being met in several ways. One is by teaching the public about proper animal care and what healthy animals look like. The youth are responsible for all of the animal care at the fair and they do a great job keeping their animals happy and their pens clean. Another way I have seen the mission of Extension being met is by connecting OSU to the general public. We had a large booth set up at the fair as well as a 4-H table and got several new individuals on our email list. It was important to reach out to the public and let them know OSU Extension is there to help with all kinds of topics.

For the last three weeks of my internship, I will be helping out with one youth camp and then teaching two Junior Master Gardener camps. I’ve had a great internship experience so far and am really looking forward to the two camps I will be teaching.

Hello everyone! My name is Ally Hand, and I am an intern in the OSU Extension office in Lane County for the summer. I will be working under the supervision of Elizabeth Gangwer, 4-H Program Coordinator for Lane County.  

I am originally from Bend, Oregon, but have spent the last few years in the Willamette Valley and intend to stay. I am a senior at OSU, studying horticulture with a focus in sustainable production. 

Some of my interests include gardening, cooking, baking, reading, listening to podcasts, and cross-stitching. One interest that I plan to get back into over the summer is brewing kombucha and maybe trying my hand at canning. 

As a Pacific Northwest native, you may guess that one of my interests is hiking. I visited Silver Falls State Park for the first time in June. I went during the weekend and didn’t anticipate seeing the trails packed with people. I would definitely recommend going, just expect there to be a lot of visitors if you’re going on a weekend. 

I was first exposed to OSU Extension when I was in elementary school when my grandma became a Master Gardener. Yet, I didn’t think about Extension a lot until I reached college. 

During my third year at OSU, I found out there was a class I could take called “Introduction to Extension & Engagement.” That 10-week class taught me the ins and outs of all things OSU Extension and ignited a spark inside me that hasn’t burnt out. 

During my internship I will mainly be helping out with Lane County 4-H and their Youth Fair that will be from July 20-July 25. So far, I have done quite a bit of preparation by making schedules, organizing boxes, and designing signs. I’m hoping that I also get to collaborate this summer with the horticulture and community agriculture side of Extension, as well. 

In between fair preparation I have also been planning two Junior Master Gardener camps that are  scheduled for August 9-12 and August 16-19. Teaching youth about plants, gardening, and especially soil, is a passion of mine, so I am looking forward to those two weeks. 

I started at OSU in 2016 and have my fingers crossed that I will finish up in spring 2022. My intention is to work for OSU Extension in the form of community outreach and working with farmers across the state. For now, I don’t plan to attend graduate school but I would love the opportunity to attend someday. 

I am truly looking forward to a summer filled with all things OSU Extension and all of the community connections that I make.