A woman sit at an outdoor table covered with a black Extension Service tablecloth and gives the thumbs up sign.
Ava Cordle at the OSU Extension booth.
Photo credit: Olivia Jacobs

Hello everyone! I am already in my last week of my summer internship with OSU Extension’s groundwater protection program. I have really enjoyed getting to learn more about well water and getting to go out in the community to test water for nitrate. I have had the opportunity to grow by planning and attending events throughout the summer. It has been exciting to attend events, since I had been working on planning some of them back in May and June!

A rack of test tubes filled with water.
Testing well water for nitrate.
Photo credit: Ava Cordle

Some of the different events I went to this summer were Harrisburg Sounds of Summer, Silverton Farmers Market, the Corvallis farmers market and more! At these events we set up a booth where we offer free nitrate testing for people in the community to bring in their well water. To run a test, we take a bit of their well water and we use reagents that change the color of the water depending on how much nitrate is present. At a clinic I did at the Lacomb Grange I did 59 tests in just three hours! We also offer publications and information on well water and septic systems, and a lot of people stop by just to ask questions. Attending these events was my favorite part of the internship. I found it rewarding after spending a lot of time planning them.

Overall, some of my favorite parts about this internship was meeting and working with the other groundwater interns, talking with community members and getting to attend events all over Benton, Linn, Lane, Marion and Lincoln counties. I have learned so much about well water over the past few months. Coming into this internship I had never had well water and did not know much about the care of well water. I also gained skills in community outreach, creating flyers and postcards, and got to learn about the 4-H program by volunteering to help at Extension booths at fairs.

– Ava Cordle

A black box with a tall orange flag sits in a field.
Vole bait box in a tall fescue field.
Photo credit: Sprout Mahoney

Happy summer, blog readers! This is Sprout Mahoney, a soil science student entering their final year at OSU. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to intern with the OSU Extension office in Linn County. Working with Christy Tanner, the south valley Extension field crops agent, has educated me about how science fits into agriculture and how Extension helps to bring research with the community.

One project I got to participate in is Mint Pest Alert, a publication that goes out to mint growers around Oregon. Every week I visited mint fields to collect insect samples to identify pests and do population surveys. This information is vital for targeting pests at the right time in their lifecycle. Using precision treatments at the proper time helps to prevent broadscale pesticide use that can harm beneficial insects.

I was able to witness another research project happening in a local clover field where treatments for the clover seed weevil were being studied. It was fascinating to see researchers work together during the harvest and weighing of clover seed. Measuring the seed weights of the different plots can determine which treatments led to best yields, and conclusions can be drawn to which treatments were most effective against the weevil.

Aerial images of a field.
Aerial image of a vole bait box (left center) surrounded by healthy and damaged tall fescue plants. NDVI image of the same area (right), with green showing healthy growing vegetation and yellows/reds showing damaged vegetation and bare soil.
Photo credits: Christy Tanner and Sprout Mahoney

Another project was related to gray-tailed moles and their damage to grass seed fields. Vole damage in the Willamette Valley can be extensive and there are limited ways for growers to tackle the vole challenge. The study being conducted is to research the effectiveness of different vole baits and if these baits can be applied in above-ground boxes rather than directly into burrows. The tamper-resistant bait boxes are more cost-effective and also more directed, targeting the voles and limiting the risk of rodenticides to other vertebrate wildlife. I was able to join in multiple visits to tall fescue fields where these boxes were placed with different baits. We measured not only the amount of bait consumed at each plot but also took aerial photographs of the fields by drone. Analyzing this drone footage is another tool being used to measure stand growth and identify areas of greater or lesser damage.

The summer is a busy time for grass seed farmers in the Willamette Valley as they cut, dry, collect and process their crop. While doing field visits, I got to watch the different steps of this process and then research it further as I wrote an article about grass seed harvest for Extension’s “Growing” publication. My article informs the public know what is going on once the combines leave the fields.

I have greatly enjoyed my summer internship and all the activities I have been able to be a part of. The skills I have learned, the information I have gained, and the people who have inspired me will help to shape my future in agriculture. I look forward to continuing my academic and professional journey knowing that the OSU Extension Service is there to help the community in so many ways.

A woman kneels in the grass to feed a black and white baby goat with a bottle.
Sophia Nowers feeding a two-day old baby goat on a recent farm tour. Photo credit: Teagan Moran

Hello, again. I’m Sophia Nowers, the summer intern for Oregon State University Extension Service’s Small Farms Program and Community Horticulture in Benton, Linn and Lane counties. It is hard to believe that I’m already in the last week of my internship. The past month has sped by in a blur of events and activities. I have tabled at the Benton County Fair, helped on Small Farms farm tours, gone to OSU field days, and worked with Master Gardeners to publicize some of their events and talks. Between writing up summaries of events for sharing on social media and in Extension publications, I have also been working on an article about the OSU Dry Farm Project and its community involvement through the Dry Farming Collaborative.

It has been fantastic to explore Extension this summer, especially as an OSU student in the College of Agricultural Sciences. I have had the opportunity to make so many connections with professors, researchers, and members of the community and it has given me a strong sense of what I might want to do in the future.

There have been so many highlights, from getting to bottle feed a two-day old baby goat to attending the Organic Grains & Pulses Field Day and several Master Gardener events. My favorite part of my internship was learning how Extension bridges the gap between communities and the university, connecting researchers with farmers and business owners, community members with resources about gardening and homeownership and farmers with each other. I am grateful for the opportunity to help publicize Small Farms Program and Community Horticulture’s events and activities.

The project that I am proudest of is my article about the OSU Dry Farm Project. For the article, I interviewed the lead researchers of the project, Lucas Nebert and Matt Davis, visited two of their dry farm sites, and in the process learned a lot about dry farming and its challenges in Oregon.

I am grateful to my supervisors, Teagan Moran and Brooke Edmunds, for their support and guidance this summer, and to everyone I met through this internship. I have greatly enjoyed exploring some of what Extension has to offer and realizing that there is so much more!

A smiling young woman in a gray shirt and khaki pants reaches over to touch plants.
Sophia Nowers on a recent farm tour.
Photo credit: Teagan Moran

Hello, my name is Sophia Nowers, and I am the summer intern for Oregon State University Extension Service’s Small Farms Program and Community Horticulture in Benton, Linn and Lane counties. I am a rising junior at OSU, where I am majoring in agricultural sciences. I hail from Alaska and love seeing all the different crops that can be grown in the Willamette Valley. In my internship, I work with OSU Extension faculty in the Small Farms Program and in Community Horticulture to publicize Extension activities, build small farm community networks and support Extension events in Linn, Lane and Benton counties. Most of my time is spent touring Master Gardener projects, interviewing farmers, researchers and volunteers and writing articles about OSU Extension events and programs.

I just started the fourth week of my internship and highlights so far include helping at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture Open House, touring the Benton County Master Gardeners’ demonstration garden at the Benton County Fairgrounds, and getting to see Commonplace Farms’ operation near Corvallis. It has been eye opening to see the research being done by OSU Extension and how it translates into useful knowledge for farmers, gardeners and the community.

My big project has been writing an article about the Dry Farming Accelerator Program for publication by OSU Extension. It has been fascinating to learn about the dry farming research that is being done at the university and how it is being shared in the broader Oregon farming and gardening community. The program brings together small farmers and hobbyist gardeners from across the state to do dry farm trials of tomatoes, squash and corn and share their dry farming experiences. It is great to see how the program combines research and community building, and it has given me some great ideas for my agriculture thesis!

In the rest of my internship, I am looking forward to seeing some local small farms, learning more about the Dry Farming Collaborative, tabling at the Benton County Fair and interviewing more Master Gardeners about their projects and activities. OSU Extension does so much in so many areas that there is always more to learn. I love how its work intersects with public health, environmental issues, water management and so much more. I can’t wait to get out there and learn!

A young woman holds a test tube filled with water and smiles.
Olivia Jacobs at the Sweet Home Farmers Market
Photo credit: Kelci Free

Hi, my name is Olivia Jacobs and I work under Chrissy Lucas-Woodruff in the Groundwater Protection Education program. I just finished my third year at Oregon State studying Ecological Engineering, which is directly connected with my work. Last term, in my ecohydrology class, we learned about the two types of aquifers and how wells interact with local hydrology. In my internship, I have learned much more about how human interactions with the environment improve or diminish well water quality. Next week I get to learn more about septic systems — yay!

Looking over the shoulder of a woman holding a colorful well water testing kit.
Testing well water for nitrate.
Photo credit: Kelci Free

After two weeks with OSU Extension, I have done four events, three of which included testing the community’s well water samples for nitrate. I love being a part of people’s journey to learn more about their groundwater and care for their home water systems. And, of course, seeing the excitement around Extension and meeting folks from all over Oregon is always a treat!

Through this internship, I want to learn about what is important to the members of all the counties we serve. I want to educate as best I can while learning about the intricacies of human-environment interactions.

Alongside this internship, I also work year-round as an Academic Coach at the Academic Success Center at OSU. My work mainly involves helping my student peers with their academic goals and insights. I get to work with folks with different backgrounds, learning styles and perspectives on the world around them, which is my favorite part of the job. I hope my communication skills as a coach translate to my interactions with the community this summer.

Wide shot of a large mint field with farm in the background under a cloud streaked bright blue sky
Oregon peppermint field
Photo credit: Sprout Mahoney

Hi there! I am Sprout Mahoney, one of this summer’s crop of OSU Extension Service interns. While I have my senior year of Crop and Soil Science coming up, I will be working with Christy Tanner, the Linn County field crops specialist, for the next few months.

I got an early start this spring and have already helped with some research projects. Linn County is known for its grass seed and one of these projects has been based out of a local tall fescue field. Experimenting with different vole baits, observing signs of vole damage, and assessing drone imagery of the field via GIS software have been a few ways my learning has gotten out of the classroom and into some outdoor experience. I’ve assisted with different aspects of the research, from measuring samples to analyzing raw data for meaningful conclusions.

Closeup of a mint plant in a field
Mint plant
Photo credit: Sprout Mahoney

Another research project I worked on got me outdoors into some wonderful smelling mint fields! The peppermint grown in fields often becomes oil, a product that netted Oregon $34 million dollars in 2020. While mint in your garden may not have many pests thanks to its strong taste, the plants out in the field can be troubled by insects like loopers and cutworms. Monitoring these pests means using sticky traps baited with pheromone lures out in different fields and finding trends in their populations. This knowledge can help inform growers about the best times to treat pests and which species to focus on.

I am excited to be interning with Extension and working with local farmers. Agriculture always faces issues and I am interested in understanding people’s struggles and help bring solutions. I am especially looking forward to learning more about GIS applications in agriculture. I always want to know more about our soils!


A young woman in a berry colored Six Flags sweatshirt smiles from a hammock
Ava Cordle relaxing before work
Photo credit: Ava Cordle

Hello everyone! My name is Ava Cordle and I am a second-year student attending Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend, studying environmental science with an applied ecology option. I grew up in Albany and therefore have good knowledge of the Willamette Valley. I am excited to work with OSU Extension groundwater protection education in the Well Water Program this summer and learn how to ensure well water is safe.

So far, I have started this internship working remotely in Bend but have taken a dive into the world of well water. There have already been many eye-opening moments for me as I have not experienced owning and taking care of a well and there is a lot to it. I have learned a lot about what effects nitrate can have and how important it is to check your well water regularly to stay safe. I have been spending a lot of time setting up our summer community outreach calendar with events like farmers markets all around Benton, Linn, Marion, Lane and Polk counties.

Free nitrate screening at the Aumsville Saturday Market on July 15 at 9:00.
Nitrate screening for well water in Marion County

I am very excited to see what I will learn more throughout this internship and all the people I will meet. I currently do not know what I want my career to look like. I feel this internship will teach me a lot and hopefully show me what I am interested in or not interested in for a future career. If you are interested in getting your well water tested, we will be having lots of booths this summer. I hope to get to meet some of you and make sure your drinking water is safe!

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! 

My name is Caitie Smith I am a current senior at Oregon State University studying agriculture science and will be returning for my master’s in agriculture education this fall. During my internship at the Linn County Extension Office, I have learned so much and the time has just flown by. I am so grateful to everyone at the office that has welcomed me and made me feel at home throughout the summer.

A woman stands against a cloud-streaked sky, wearing a backpack with long flags.
Caitie Smith carrying flags and drone ground control points for a grass seed trial.

I have mostly been working with Christy Tanner, assistant professor of practice and Extension field crops specialist, on several ongoing research projects throughout the summer. I wouldn’t be getting the full Linn County experience without doing some work with grass seed. So of course, one of the projects that took up the majority of our time involved assessing several grass seed fields for vole damage. This project was made easier with the use of multispectral images from a drone that allowed us to view the field from above. The most rewarding part of this project for me was being able to have a hands-on experience with several steps of the research process, from collecting samples to processing drone images and data.

Purple flower stalks peeking above a large field of dense green mint leaves.
A flowering mint field while pest scouting.

Another project that I worked on with Christy was monitoring variegated cutworm and mint root borers in several mint fields throughout the mid-Willamette valley. Every Tuesday I drove to four different fields, collected data, and changed the pheromone traps that were used to attract mature moths. After this, I would make graphs with the data that would go into the weekly “Mint Pest Alert” newsletter.

I also worked with Elizabeth Records, a community horticulture and Master Gardener educator, and the Extension Master Gardener content team. Weekly I edited master gardener trainee’s blog posts before posting them alongside a few social media posts. Not only did I learn a lot about editing and posting blogs but I also learned a great deal from the blog posts themselves. The trainees did copious amounts of research on each of their subjects from weeding tools to maximizing your harvest’s nutrients.

Once again, I can’t thank the Linn County Extension staff enough for allowing me to make the most out of this opportunity. I am sure that this is not my last chapter working with extension and I am looking forward to ways that I can use the knowledge that I gained in my future endeavors.