CORVALLIS, Ore. - Two dozen Oregonians from around the state received the year's highest honors from Oregon State University's Extension Association at a banquet Dec. 9 at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center in Corvallis.
"Our volunteers are the backbone of Extension," said Deborah Maddy, associate provost for University Outreach & Engagement. "They bring so much talent and skills to the organization, including that most precious commodity – their time. We want to honor the dedication of individuals and businesses that have significant impacts on our educational programs."
Three other Extension supporters were honored by Epsilon Sigma Phi, a national organization of Extension professionals.
OSUEA Cooperator Awards
Volunteers with less than 10 years of service
John Jiricek, Polk County: A skilled culinary expert, Jiricek became a Master Food Preserver two years ago and has used his expertise to answer questions and give guidance at farmer's markets and other venues. He also represents the county's Family and Community Health program on the Polk Extension Citizen Advisory Network. His many connections in the community have benefited Extension with an increased network of supporters.
Scottie Jones, Leaping Lamb Farm Stay, Benton County: Jones has spearheaded cutting-edge programming to help create rural economic development across Oregon. She is involved in planning agritourism education for farmers and ranchers in the areas of market development, social media and hospitality training. She is a collaborator in a statewide working group for Oregon agritourism, serves on a regional advisory council for Extension programming and is actively engaged in the Willamette Women's Farm Network, which is sponsored by OSU's Small Farms Program.
Gary Jordon, Lane County: In two years, Jordan completed Extension's Master Gardener, Master Food Preserver and Compost Specialist training. He became the sweet potato and fermentation expert and volunteered more than 100 hours in 2015. As a volunteer contractor, Jordan led a project to create an ecologically friendly parking lot at the Lane County Extension Office.
Elizabeth Perez, Yamhill County: Inspired by her daughter's involvement in 4-H, Perez became a volunteer leader in 2008. Since then her trajectory has extended across a wide range of 4-H programs. She serves as project leader for art, rabbit and leadership for the Bacon Bits & Friends 4-H club, which is the county's largest with more than 120 members. In addition, Perez is county fair superintendent for rabbit and art, clerk for the Critter Romp Show and the county shooting sports tournament. With more than 6,000 volunteer hours, her contribution is valued at $114,000.
Helmuth Rogg, Marion County: Rogg, director of the native plant conservation area for Oregon Department of Agriculture, has been a driving force in keeping export markets open to Oregon tree producers. He has garnered research funding to evaluate pest pressure and control options and visited agricultural inspection stations in Mexico and Hawaii to evaluate procedures and learn about issues with Oregon trees. He co-authored OSU Extension's Best Management Practices for Christmas Tree Exports and is teaching a number of Extension Christmas tree classes as well as giving Integrated Pest Management and tree export presentations at Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association events.
Katrina Van Dis, Deschutes County: As program administrator of the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Agency, Van Dis has collected almost $1 million in grants to benefit food systems in the region. In partnership with OSU Extension, the funding has supported agricultural efforts that include construction of the Deschutes County Extension greenhouse, which contributes extended season production research and education. She serves on the Deschutes County Extension Advisory Council.
Volunteers with more than 10 years of service
Rayma Davis, Douglas County: When Douglas County lost its Family and Community Health faculty member, Davis stepped in. She became a member of an Extension volunteer leadership team, provided guidance for Master Food Preserver training classes and community classes, and coordinated the statewide hotline staffed by volunteers in Lane and Douglas counties. She's been a regular contributor of newspaper articles and a key proponent of the successful 2008 ballot measure that developed a service district for Extension in Douglas County.
Peggy Harris, Washington County: Harris is a leader in Washington County 4-H and the Citizen Participation Organization Program. As chair of CPO since 2008, she plans community meetings, including forums to improve internet access and annual Neighborhood Watch events. She was leader for more than 30 years of 4-H Blooming Livestock and Rabbit club and volunteer cook for the annual county fair breakfast. She co-chaired the first Quake Up! Earthquake preparedness event by her CPO program, which drew 1,000 people.
Mark Labhart, Tillamook County: Labhart, an OSU graduate and Tillamook County commissioner, has been a valuable Extension advocate and collaborator. He serves on the county Extension Advisory Council and has taken the lead on fundraising for a new building to house the county Extension office, OSU Open Campus and Tillamook Bay Community College.
Katie Lompa and Gary English, Deschutes County: For 16 years, Lompa and English have partnered with OSU Extension to bring the High Desert Green Industry Conference to central Oregon. English, owner of Landsystems Nursery, coordinates the trade show and is the lead for securing sponsorships. Lompa, a community forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry, helps develop the program, is speaker liaison and has procured continuing education units for professional certifications.
John Walton, Polk County: Walton and his family have been involved in 4-H and Extension agriculture programs for more than 50 years. Walton, who is livestock nutrition specialist at Wilco stores in McMinnville, has served on the Polk County Livestock Association Board of Directors, currently as president. Under his leadership, the association's auction profits have grown to more than $200,000. Walton has supported 4-H educational programs in Polk and Yamhill counties.
Jean Wetzel, Deschutes County: Wetzel, an 11-year volunteer, comes into the Extension office every Tuesday and Thursday for four hours to file, do data entry, make nametags, label newsletters, help with slide shows and whatever else needs to be done.
Business or organization
Albany Democrat-Herald: Every month for 31 years, the Democrat-Herald has published and distributed Update, a newsletter created in 1984 to encourage voters to support the funding of OSU Extension in Linn County. In 2016, the newsletter will expand to 24 pages and serve Linn and Benton counties.
KLAD radio, Basin Mediactive: Over the past 20 years, KLAD and OSU's Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center have formed an enduring partnership. When funding for the center was eliminated, KLAD's Rob Siems and Scott Alan fueled a major petition drive that required signatures from 15 percent of county residents in less than four months. The measure made it to the ballot and the radio station's continuing market efforts helped lead to a successful bid for a tax service district for the Extension center.
Elk Meadow Elementary School, Deschutes County: In partnership with OSU Extension, Elk Meadow Elementary School administration and staff are changing the environment to increase physical activity and healthy food choices. The community participates in direct nutrition education, healthy family activities and events such as Fuel Up to Play 60 and gardening.
Elkhorn Media Group: For more than 25 years, Elkhorn Media Group has been a major supporter of the Union County 4-H radio auction, which generates about $20,000 annually to support Extension 4-H programs. In addition, the media group donates eight hours of air time for the two-day event, as well as promotional ads, unlimited access to the studio and a DJ during the online auction.
GROW Healthy Kids & Communities: Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, GROW, in partnership with Extension, mobilizes the communities in Clackamas, Columbia and Klamath counties to change the environments that increase the risk of rural obesity. Projects include fitness trails, climbing walls, school staff trainings, school gardens, nutrition and activity toolkits and farm-to-school initiatives.
Mercy Foundation Healthy Kid Outreach Program: Extension and HKOP have successfully joined to reach people in Douglas County to meet the basic health needs of children. Through coordination, more students have had access to Extensions SNAP-Ed program, which teaches nutrition education in schools with 50 percent or more free and reduced school meals.
Let's Talk Diversity Coalition: The coalition has helped OSU Extension and Open Campus provide educational opportunities in Jefferson County. It has been especially supportive of the Juntos and Papalaxsimisha programs by providing facilitators.
Moir Construction: Owners Steve and Lynette Moir have been OSU Extension supporters for more than 30 years. Lynette was in the first class of Lane County Master Food Preservers and a master gardener. They made it possible to remodel the county Extension office by volunteering to be the licensed contractor overseeing the project, which took months of work and thousands of hours by volunteers. The Moirs also donated and installed cabinets for the teaching kitchen.
Office of the State Veterinarian, Dr. Brad LeaMaster, Dr. Ryan Scholz and Madeline Benoit: Between equine herpesvirus, avian flu and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, it's been a busy year for the state veterinarian and his colleagues. But they've taken the time to help 4-H members as they struggle to be informed and make educated decisions about transport, exposure and risk mitigation. During times of critical decisions, LeaMaster, Scholz and Benoit have shared information, opinions, documentation and educational materials.
Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Michael Cloughesy, Norie Dimeo-Ediger: Since 1991, OFRI has been a constant supporter of OSU Extension. They have partnered with Extension's Forestry & Natural Resources Program on three award-winning projects: Ties to the Land, Master Woodland Manager and Women Owning Woodlands Network. They also support youth and teacher education programs and have worked with the Oregon Natural Resources Education Program to bring the Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan to Extension.
Tillamook Bay Community College Board of Education: With the support of the college's board of education, Tillamook County has helped establish a flourishing OSU Open Campus based at Tillamook Bay Community College that offers an associate's degree that transfers to OSU. The board was also the first financial supporter of a new building shared between the community college and OSU.
Wallowa School District: OSU Extension has always enjoyed a solid working relationship with the Wallowa School District, which has hosted the 6th grade tour, provided meeting space for 4-H club meetings and much more. In 2005 Wallowa County Nutrition Education and 4-H programs began offering nutrition instruction to students at the school. In the last decade, more than 1,400 students have participated and learned everything from which foods belong in which food groups, that spinach smoothies taste good and how to grind flour.
Friends of Extension
Cliff and Judy Bracher, Umatilla County: More than 50 years ago, Judy Bracher's father began working with OSU Extension agents to develop large-scale irrigation projects in Hermiston, which led to the irrigation of more than 500,000 acres of agricultural land. The Brachers have testified before county commissioners and the Oregon State Legislature in support of Extension. They have contributed their time, materials and thousands of dollars each year. Their leadership roles include membership on the Extension Citizens Advisory Network, 4-H Advisory Board, state 4-H project committees and as liaisons to the county fair facility.
Jason Chapman, Traci Reed, Pam Erbes, Klamath County: In January 2012, the Klamath County Board of Commissioners cut funding to OSU Extension in the county. Chapman, Reed and Erbs led the Klamath Basin Research & Extension Center Success Team, which served as chief petitioners for the creation of the Klamath County Extension Service District. For two years, they were the backbone of the team that developed documents, conducted endless meetings, participated in presentations to citizens and led a successful signature collection campaign.
Defrees Ranch, Baker County: Lyle and Dean Defrees have helped create the innovative and successful Country Natural Beef enterprise that provides a sustainable, predictable market for local producers. Lyle worked tirelessly to get an Extension forestry position reestablished in Baker and Grant counties. The Defrees have served on the Extension Forestry Advisory Committee and as officers of the Baker County Private Woodlands Association. They plan, organize and teach Extension forestry workshops.