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! 

Hi guys, I’m Briauna and I interned with the OSU Extension Groundwater Protection and Education Program in Benton County. As I wrap up my summer internship I looked back and realized how fast it all went. It seems like I just started this internship and as I write this blog post it is my last full week. Over the summer I was able to learn so many new things through the Well Water Program and other programs within Extension. In June we prepared for all the nitrate screenings we had planned for the summer. It consisted of a lot of cutting and stamping postcards, sending out press releases, and advertising through social media.

A woman crouches down to pick blueberries to collect in a white bucket.
Briauna Herrick picking blueberries on a farm visit.

Throughout the summer I worked on a handful of different projects, one of them being research on county websites for well and septic information and another was working on the newsletter archives in the Extension Small Farms Program website. I also got to help with the Be Well project based in Jackson County. We sent out a lot of letters that we stuffed, sealed and stamped. I am really surprised I made it through the summer without getting a paper cut! Once the clinics started it just kept getting busier from there. In between the busyness of nitrate screenings, I had the opportunity to go to Blueberry Field Day at the OSU North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora to learn more about the research being done there. I also helped at county fairs, and I even got to go on a farm visit with Lane County’s small farms Extension agent, Mellissa Fery.

I enjoyed getting to visit many different towns in the Willamette Valley where we held our screenings–I don’t think I have driven up and down I-5 so much in a span of three months. It was fun getting to spend a few hours in towns I hadn’t been to before and getting to know some of the people in the communities. Later this week I am holding a nitrate screening at my family’s farm in Springfield. I have been looking forward to testing water in the area I grew up in and getting to share what I have learned with my family, friends and close neighbors.

Over the course of my internship, I got to meet a lot of people and enjoyed learning from their experiences. Everyone I met involved with Extension was kind and always welcoming. I enjoyed working with Chrissy, Kelci, and Ahad over the summer and was able to learn from all of them. I am thankful for this opportunity to work with Extension and for everything I have learned over the past few months. Thank you to the people I met along the way and for this opportunity to grow.

Hi everyone. Em Jones here again. I can barely believe it’s been two months since my last blog post. The summer is coming to an end with earlier sunsets as we approach the equinox, about a month away now. I’ve been so busy with my internship I’ve hardly noticed the passing days. I’ve been networking, meeting new people and making lots of friends through various workshops and activities. My main projects have revolved around Small Farm School and the Oregon Mushroom Producers Network.  

A black plastic tub filled with a wide variety of mushrooms
A bountiful mushroom harvest.

The OSU Extension Small Farms program has been busy as a bee planning and preparing for Small Farm School. Several classes are filling up quickly but it’s not too late to register. It will be held on Monday, Sept. 12 at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City. Classes include topics like poultry processing, funding your small farm “dream,” and farming with climate resiliency.  

We are abuzz right now with volunteer opportunities to support workshops and ensure the day flows smooth as honey. If you’re interested, please reach out to Kelly Streit. Just four hours of volunteering gets you into the Small Farm School for free! 

In addition to supporting Small Farm School, I’ve also had the pleasure of facilitating the first meeting of Oregon’s Mushroom Producer Network. This group of folks includes gourmet and medicinal mushroom cultivators from across Oregon. If you or someone you know is cultivating mushrooms, please reach out to me for more details. We have an upcoming mushroom farm tour and have just begun the conversation about the purchasing power opportunities we can embark upon.  

While I am sad that my internship and the summer are quickly coming to an end, I am so grateful to have participated in the OSU Extension internship program. My mentor, Heidi Noordijk, has given me a wealth of knowledge and opportunity. She is truly a resource librarian and shining example of what the Extension Service is all about. From my time at the Clackamas County Fair to participating in her IPM class, I can honestly say she truly cares about and authentically supports the farming community for the benefit of us all.  

As fall approaches mushroom growing will be at a peak and this small farmer looks forward to continuing their education with Oregon State University as well as continuing to learn from and partner with the Extension Service.  

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!

Sophia Hampton

Hello! My name is Sophia Hampton (she/her/hers), and I’m excited to be working for OSU Extension in Polk and Marion counties with the Mid-Willamette Valley Small Farms Program. I was born and raised in McMinnville and am back in Oregon for the summer after completing my first year at Seattle University. 

 

Although I don’t have a lot of experience with farming and agriculture, as an environmental studies and public affairs double major, I’m finding my time here quite valuable. I’m learning new things every day. I’m working with my incredible supervisor, Hayley White, Extension agriculture program coordinator in Marion and Polk counties. Hayley works with the Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District and on the Olea Project, an olive research project.

 

So far, I’ve been formatting the Mid-Willamette Valley Small Farms newsletter, producing content for and posting to our social media pages, creating marketing materials for various events like the upcoming Small Farm Social at the end of July, and planning an activity for the Polk County Fair in August. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit and plant strawberries at the Marion Polk Food Share Youth Farm and participate in data collection for the Olea Project at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center, as well as work at the Extension table at the West Salem Farmers Market and the Marion County Fair. These experiences have been fun and informative, and I love meeting people, both those who work with Extension and those who don’t. They are so passionate, knowledgeable and generous with their time and conversations. 

Planting strawberries at the Marion Polk Food Share Youth Farm. Photo by Hayley White.

 

I don’t have a clear idea of what I would like my career to look like, but I know I want it to be related to outreach, education and environmental justice, so with this internship, I hope to gain perspective about where I might fit into those fields. Even as I’m just starting, I can feel that happening. I’m grateful to be part of the Extension team this summer, and I can’t wait to continue learning and contributing.

Hi, I’m Em Jones (they/them), a small farmer in northeast Portland’s Cully Neighborhood. My partner and I propagate a variety of heirloom vegetables using regenerative practices. We recently started a mushroom farm focused on plastic light operations that leverage local waste streams for substrate. Aside from a growing business, pun intended, I am a full-time student in Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. I am on track to earn bachelor’s degrees in horticulture and sustainability.

Em Jones poses for a picture with a newly planted flower
Em Jones

I’m excited for this summer as it’s my first time being an OSU Extension Service intern! I’ll be working for Multnomah and Clackamas County supporting the Small Farm School, scheduled for Sept. 12. It’s a great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge on the dynamics of running an urban farm while assisting others in the learning process. The event supports beginning and intermediate small-scale farmers with a variety of educational workshops. Perhaps you’ll join us or invite someone you know for Small Farm School. If the event is not applicable to you, feel free to access our variety of resources through the OSU Extension website that you might find more beneficial.

As an OSU intern, I’ll support access to information via our website page, as well as connect with community members to support the Small Farm School. I’ve recently been building relationships with local farmers through my new business. There’s a great community of like-minded individuals that are localizing our food systems and working to improve the land.

My personal goal is to increase access to sustainably grown, healthy, affordable food for my community. I seek to dismantle current systems of oppression that plague our food systems. Unfortunately, mass produced agriculture continues to be exploitative to farm workers and the land. That type of agriculture is mining, not farming, and my goal is to interrupt it. Instead, I focus on no-till, no-chemical farming that builds up the soil.

Blue oyster mushrooms in a small jar on top of a table
Blue oyster mushrooms in a small jar

I hope to share my knowledge and skill-set with other small farmers, as well as to learn from them so we can grow our regenerative farming practices together. Community resilience is created through the open sharing of knowledge and resources, something OSU Extension continually contributes to. We are stronger together and better suited to fight climate change, racial injustice, and to improve our systems to reflect an equitable society. I look forward to furthering my goals and the mission of OSU Extension during my internship.

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.  

Judging at the Yamhill County Fair.
Judging at the Yamhill County 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!  

Hi everyone! Henry Golb again, for my third and final blog post of the summer. As a brief refresher, I’m Christy Tanner’s intern working with the south Willamette Valley field crops. I am based out of Linn County, and my job is to assist Christy in both the field and the office.   

It’s hard to believe that my time with Linn County Extension is coming to an end. It’s been a remarkable experience and I’m very thankful I was able to work with this amazing group of people. I just want to thank the faculty and staff of Linn County Extension for all their support this summer. 

Blooming mint in Jefferson, Oregon. Photo by Henry Golb.
Blooming mint in Jefferson, Oregon. Photo by Henry Golb.

Over the course of my 10 weeks at the OSU Extension office in Linn County I’ve been doing ground sampling and drone flights in grass seed fields looking at vole damage, collected the data for the Willamette Valley Mint Pest Alert newsletter, and I was in charge of compiling and editing the Willamette Valley, Central, and Eastern Mint Pest Alert newsletters each week. I got to be a part of hop nutrient field research study with Christy’s north valley counterpart, Betsy Verhoeven, and so much more. A big highlight of my summer was having the opportunity to be given the tour of Reerslev Farms’ mint distillery just outside of Junction City. Seeing (and tasting) the final product of fields I worked in was pretty special. Riding around with John Reerslev and touring some his mint fields was the icing on the cake.  

All these experiences gave me a real-world taste of Willamette Valley agriculture and opened my eyes up to a world I’d only experienced through classrooms and textbooks. This internship taught me and showed me practical skills that can only be learned in the field.  

I walked into this internship not knowing much about Extension. I came in with the notion that Extension only worked with and helped farmers. While a sizeable portion of the Extension Service is focused on agriculture, I could not have been farther from the truth. I learned about and saw programs from 4-H all the way to food preservation classes. I’m walking out knowing that Extension works with and improves the quality of life for all Oregonians. I hope that more Oregonians see OSU Extension as a resource for them in their daily lives. Extension is here to serve and help the people.  

This internship could not be what it’s been without the people I’ve worked with. I want to take this opportunity to thank Christy, Betsy, and Michele Webster, who manages the Linn County office, for believing in me and guiding me along the way. I would also like to thank KJ Joseph, who coordinates the OSU Intern Program, and my family for all their support.  

Hello Everyone! 

This summer I have been interning with OSU Extension Communications and my experience thus far has been great! Primarily, I have been working with our social media team to create content promoting Extension’s resources and local impact, and coordinating and publishing the posts on this blog. Doing this has grown my understanding of how Extension is influencing our community. While my internship has been remote, I have been able to read about the work other interns are doing in counties in their blog posts. Being a part of the blog process this summer has been a really insightful part of my internship. It is awesome to hear how the interns are seeing their internship goals being met and fulfilled by their involvement with various Extension programs and work. I am excited to read more about the work and accomplishments of our interns as the summer comes to an end. 

Since beginning my internship, I have been able to learn so much about Extension and how Extension is represented through social media. One project I worked on is helping launch the OSU Extension service Instagram account. The process of starting the account involved meeting with other faculty and staff from other Extension programs. I was able to meet with the social media managers for the OSU Master Gardeners, the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and the social media strategist for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Speaking with other social media coordinators was very helpful and gave me insight into the goals and planning tools other programs use in order to share their resources with their audiences. I realized how important online media can be to share the story of Extension and how it can positively influence the lives of many Oregonians. 

To prepare for the launch of the OSU Extension Instagram I designed graphics, including an infographic about what farmers can do make to prevent fires and a graphic about how wildfire smoke can affect animals. I hope to create more educational graphics in the future and am eager to see their impact on our audience. 

Our Instagram launched this past weekend and I am excited to see what the last few weeks of my internship hold! 

A water activity at an elementary school.
A water activity at an elementary school.

Hi everyone! I’m Kelci Free, providing an update from Linn County. Over the last two months, I have learned so much more about Extension than I ever thought possible. I have quickly learned just how much time and planning goes into every event beforehand whether it be a farmers market, teaching in schools, or planning classes for the public. A few weeks ago, I was able to attend an event for women in agriculture at a small farm near Corvallis with the OSU Extension Small Farms Program. It was very inspiring to see what so many other women in agriculture were doing and get to hear their knowledge and experiences.  

 The owner of the farm showed us so many cool parts of her property and explained everything she does with her animals and garden and was able to answer lots of questions and give advice as well. It was an awesome experience to see how everyone fit into the agricultural industry and were able to come together and learn from each other. 

I am seeing the mission of Extension being met daily, by all of the programmings my supervisor does as nonformal education. We have prepared and performed nonformal education for elementary schools, farmers markets, fairs and we are planning a class for rural living basics for the general public. Everything we do as Extension faculty is to benefit our community and its people which is part of the 4 “Ps” of Extension: People, Places, Programs, and Partnerships. 

One of my biggest learning moments was while we were teaching at an elementary school in the first week and one of the activities I planned wasn’t working, so I had to adapt and change it. Being able to change plans quickly when one thing does not work out has been a common theme throughout my internship so far, and everyone says it is very needed in a career in Extension. I have quickly learned that you need to plan for the worst-case scenario and have lots of backup plans and the ability to adapt in order to be successful in this field. There have been countless learning moments in the few weeks I have had so far, I look forward to all I am yet to learn this summer.