OSU Extension Blogs

Monday at the 100th Meeting of the Ecological Society of America

Master Gardener Blog - Sun, 08/16/2015 - 8:08pm
I last attended a meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting in 2005.  That year, a few of my graduate students and I travelled to Montreal, Canada to present our research on insect diversity in New York City gardens.  I enjoyed reconnecting with friends and colleagues, but I left feeling like the ESA didn't have a place for us or our developing research program in urban ecology.

Fast forward 10 years:  I was thrilled to see that this year's meeting ~ the 100th meeting of the ESA ~ was full of opportunities to learn from and network with ecologists, engineers, geographers, designers, sociologists, educators and spiritual leaders who are keenly invested and involved in understanding how to build more sustainable, just and healthy cities.

What did I learn from #ESA100?  What inspired me?  Over the next few days, I'll put together my day-by-day impressions.  First up . . .

Monday, August 10, 2015

I started my morning by slipping into the Plenary session. Esteemed ecologists David Tilman and Margaret Palmer were joined by former US Representative and current Chief Executive of AAAS Rush Holt to set the stage for a conversation on 'what will a successful environmental agenda look like for the next 5, 10, 100 years?'.

Notables from the plenary session:

  • David Tilman on ethanol:  'I thought we'd be hard pressed to make a fuel worse than gasoline, but we've done it'.
  • David Tilman on the importance of agriculture to sustainability: suggested that to feed the world while conserving biodiversity, we need modern, precision agriculture and a healthier diet.
  • David Tilman on the impact of diet on the environment:  asked a rhetorical question 'how can we convince 11 billion people to change their diet?', and suggested that a Nobel Prize should go the chef who can create healthy, delicious and sustainable dishes.
  • Rush Holt on the status of science, today:  'Americans have lost their reverence for evidence.'
  • All speakers noted the importance of making science accessible to all.  I could not help but notice the irony of sitting in a hotel conference room with a mostly white audience . . . not too far from where the Baltimore riots occurred.  I grew up not too far from where we sat.  As a child, I didn't know anyone who was a scientist.  I never would have believed that *I* could be a scientist, if it weren't for a teacher who took the time to cultivate the confidence I needed to believe that a career in science was possible, for a kid like me.  Taking the time to reach out to others, inviting them to participate, and providing them with opportunities, mentoring and support is so incredibly important if we are sincere about diversifying science and the field of ecology.  Judging from the demographics of those at #ESA100, we still have a ways to go.
  • POTUS wished the ESA a happy birthday, and thanked ecologists for our contributions to society.  

In the afternoon, I moved between several different sessions.  Some interesting tidbits:

  • Lindell et al. 'Birds in orchards: economic, biological, and social aspects of ecosystem services':  birds such as starlings cause a lot of damage to fruit orchards.  The researchers installed nesting boxes to attract kestrels that might help control the fruit-eating birds.  Analysis of kestrel diet showed that they mostly eat insects and mammals, but that they occasionally eat starlings.  They then surveyed consumers to see what type of control they would prefer for pest birds.  Consumers preferred, and would be willing to pay more, for fruit that was protected from pest birds by kestrels . . . compared to the use of pellet guns or other deterrents for bird control.
  • Lopez et al. 'Drivers of plant species composition in an urban landscape: which variables matter most?':  looked at plant species composition in forest fragments along an urban gradient. Among other factors, researchers found that distance to urban centers was positively related to the prevalence of invasive species in forest fragments.  This suggests that horticultural use of non-native species played an important role in the introduction of invasive species into forest fragments.
  • Thorn et al. 'Quantitative scenarios for land cover change in New Hampshire: what is the potential impact on ecosystem services?':  for this series of simulations, ecosystem service degradation seemed to take hold when the percent of paved surfaces in the landscape surpassed 10%.
  • Cattell Noll et all. 'How does consuming organic products affect my nitrogen footprint?': the University of Virginia has developed an online tool that you can use to calculate your nitrogen footprint.  How cool!

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Introductory Basic HACCP

Small Farms Events - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:35pm
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 8:30 AM - Wednesday, August 12, 2015 4:00 PM

Workshop Objectives
To provide an overview of the prerequisite programs (GMPs, SSOPs) as a foundation for developing HACCP based food safety plans. Participants will work in teams and go through the process of establishing a HACCP based food safety plan for a specific food product.This program will provide information for participants to begin to prepare to come into compliance with the FDA’s mandate to require comprehensive, prevention based controls across the food supply.
Event Flyer

Registration Information

Registration Fee: $365 per person Register Early! Space is limited to 24
Registration fee includes coffee breaks and the HACCP textbook. Lunch is on your own.
Need more information?
Dr. Mark Daeschel, ph: 541.737.6519
Dr. Yanyun Zhao, ph: 541.737.9151
Registration Information
Debby Yacas, ph: 541.737.6483, or toll-free: 800.823.2357

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Making a difference.

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Tue, 08/04/2015 - 2:04pm

I keep getting comments about my posts “Does this blog make a difference?”

I want to say thank you for all who read it.


I want to say thank you for all who follow this blog.

Mostly, I am continually amazed that people find what I have to say interesting to come back.

So: Thank you. For reading. For following. For coming back.

I think that is making a difference.

my .


P. S. See you in two weeks!

The post Making a difference. appeared first on Evaluation is an Everyday Activity.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs


Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Tue, 08/04/2015 - 1:45pm

The use of the term impact is problematic, as I see it. If you (or any evaluator) are going to have an impact, if your program is going to have an impact, if you are going to do anything other than focus on the outcomes, how will you know? Scriven, in his Thesauras , says an impact evaluation is an evaluation which focuses on outcomes rather than process, progress (delivery), or implementation. (Is that an example of using the word to define the word?) Is an impact evaluation the same as an evaluation which captures the outcomes?

When Taylor-Powell  , first developed the logic model adopted by USDA, , she identified three levels of outcomes that built from the previous level–short, medium, and long term. (One document I read says long term outcomes are impacts.)  These levels are often translated to learning, action, and condition outcomes. The learning level translates into the KASAs that evaluators know and love (because they are often easiest to capture when dealing with program participants). Evaluators can find them everywhere (see Bennett , Kirkpatrick). The action level  translates into behavior change and the condition level translates into changes in conditions.

So are changes in conditions the same as impacts? Is changing the condition (social, environmental, economic) the same as impact at that condition?. Is impact just another word for long term outcome? I don’t think so. I think impact is when there are multiple long term changes that result in a major change (see change, possibly; world peace, probably). I think that the word smiths wanted to find something that had pizazz and decided that the word impact had that. Using the word impact is so much more than outcomes, even if they mean the same thing. For me, an outcome is something that I can see in my life time (hopefully); an impact is something that I work towards. You know: be the change I want to see.

But then language in evaluation is not precise (not unlike English). So if the folks who set the standards (you know, people with the money) use impact, I guess we will use impact. Keep in mind that you may not see the impact you want.

my .


P. S. I will be on holiday next week; so no blog post. I’ll be out of the office until August 18, 2015.



The post Impact. appeared first on Evaluation is an Everyday Activity.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

DOWN AND DIRTY, Soil Building

Small Farms Events - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 1:43pm
Monday, August 3, 2015 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Do you want more productive, healthier gardens and farms which take less time and money? To achieve this, the secret is SOIL, healthy, living soil.
Learn how to recognize healthy soil, feed and nourish the soil food web, and build fertiflity using natural strategies and techniques that come from getting down to the ground, a soil-eyed  view that will change the way you grow.  Cost is $20 for one or $30 couples or farm partners.   On-line registration link available at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/farms
Ms. Murphy is author of Building Soil: A Down-to-Earth Approach.  Copies of her book will be available at the workshop.

To read more and register, go to:

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Dry Farming Field Day

Small Farms Events - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 1:43pm
Monday, August 3, 2015 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Come visit the dry farming plots at Oak Creek and taste dry-farmed vs. irrigated tomatoes.

We look forward to seeing you at the Dry Farming Field Day on August 3, 2015! 
This event will be held at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture. You are welcome to come anytime that day between 4 and 7pm.

If you have any questions contact Amy Garrett at 541-766-3551 or amy.garrett@oregonstate.edu.
For more information, visit http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/dry-farming-demonstration
Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Speaking of the weather…

Tree Topics - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 3:00pm

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

I don’t need to tell you it’s hot out there today. (Oops! I just did. Sorry.)

Between the extreme heat and the very real fire danger, it’s not a good afternoon to be working in the woods.  Rarely do I say I’d rather be in the office than in the field, but today is one of those days that I’m appreciating the air conditioning.

Since everyone is talking about the weather anyhow, it seems appropriate to share some reading material that relates to it, which you can enjoy in the comfort of whatever cool spot you’ve found today.  Oregon Forests and Climate Change is the subject of a little writing project which a number of my Extension colleagues have taken on as a group.

Why this project?  OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension strives to provide objective, science-based education to help forest owners succeed in forest stewardship. The growing body of climate science means that a basic understanding of climate and climate variability are needed to guide key aspects of stewardship of managed forests, such as:

  • selecting appropriate tree species and types of forest,
  • determining the timing of management actions such as planting and thinning,
  • estimating rates of growth and productivity, and
  • anticipating climatic stress and threats to forest health.

We realize there are still a lot of unknowns that go along with all this, so our intention is not to be prescriptive but rather to explore what some of the key issues might be. We’re learning as we go and sharing what we learn through a series of short articles.  The first set of these stories are available to read now over on the Oregon Forests & Climate Change blog. To set the stage, we get some perspectives on the subject of climate change from a woodland owner who also happens to be a forest geneticist working in the timber industry.

Crater Lake snowpack in July circa 1915. Photo credit: TheOldMotor.com

The next three articles address some of the basic principles of climate science. One looks at Oregon’s weather and climate as we’ve experienced it in our lifetimes vs. what is projected for the future. The next uses snowfall at Crater Lake as an example, in analyzing long term trends vs. year-to-year fluctuations in our weather. Finally, we look at some of the underlying factors that create these fluctuations, such as the El Niño cycle we are in right now.

These articles lay the foundation for the next phase of our project, in which we’ll be exploring how our forests respond to climate variability, extremes, and long-term change, and how we as managers can respond in turn. Stay tuned over the next year or so as we continue.

Of course, climate change can be a loaded subject and discussions about the topic can quickly grow rather heated. (I could not resist that pun…) We will be staying above the fray and look objectively at what anticipated changes may – or may not – mean on the ground, here in Oregon. So grab another icy drink and click here for more.

Thanks to the USDA Pacific Northwest Climate Hub and the Oregon Forest Resources Institute for providing financial support for this ongoing project.

The post Speaking of the weather… appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Food Science Camp 2013 and Erik Fooladi

Bringing Food Chemistry to Life - Fri, 07/19/2013 - 1:44pm

We participate in the Oregon State U Food Science Camp for middle school students.

Part of the STEM [science technology engineering math] Academies@OSU Camps.

We teach about bread fermentations, yeast converting sugars to CO2 and ethanol, lactobacillus converting sugar to lactic and acetic acids, how the gluten in wheat can form films to trap the gas and  allow the dough to rise. On the way we teach about flour composition, bread ingredients and their chemical functionalities, hydration, the relationships between enzymes and substrates [amylases on starch to produce maltose for the fermentation organisms]; gluten development, the gas laws and CO2′s declining solubility in the aqueous phase during baking which expands the gas bubbles and leads to the oven spring at the beginning of baking; and the effect of pH on Maillard browning using soft pretzels that they get to shape themselves..

All this is illustrated by hands on [in] activities: they experience the hydration and the increasing cohesiveness of the dough as they mix it with their own hands, they see their own hand mixed dough taken through to well-risen bread. They get to experience dough/gluten development in a different context with the pasta extruder, and more and more.

A great way to introduce kids to the relevance of science to their day to day lives: in our case chemistry physics biochemistry and biology in cereal food processing.

We were also fortunate to have Erik Fooladi from Volda University College in Norway to observe the fun: http://www.fooducation.org/

If you have not read his blog and you like what we do here: you should!


endless pasta


Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Good Cheese, Bad Cheese

Bringing Food Chemistry to Life - Wed, 07/10/2013 - 1:25pm

pH, colloidal calcium phosphate, aging, proteolysis, emulsification or its loss and their interactions lead to optimum melting qualities for cheeses. A module in this year’s food systems chemistry class.

This module was informed by this beautiful article “The beauty of milk at high magnification“ by Miloslav Kalab, which is available on the Royal Microscopical Society website.


Of course accompanied by real sourdough wholegrain bread baked in out own research bakery.

Inspired by…

“The Science of a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.”

by: Jennifer Kimmel

in: The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking

Edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden


Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

February 2011- Nutrition Education Volunteers taking “vacation”

Family Food Educators of Central Oregon - Tue, 02/01/2011 - 9:24am

I’m back from maternity leave and getting resettled into some new responsibilities.  We had a staff member leave us, so Glenda and I are having to pick up the work load until we find someone new, or our responsibilites change.  Being a new mom is lots of work too, so I’ve gone part time (24 hours aweek) but am still trying to get everything done… that being said, we’ve decided to put our nutrition education volunteering on hold, until I have a managable workload.

We look forward to being able to start things back up in the summer or fall of 2011.  Thanks so much and since a few of you have been asking, here’s a photo of our boy.  He is 5 months old today!

Bundled out in the cold!

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs