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Photo gallery: TERREWODE in Uganda

Terra - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 11:14am
jQuery(document).ready(function($){ var stackedResizer = function(){ $('.aesop-stacked-img').css({'height':($(window).height())+'px'}); } stackedResizer(); $(window).resize(function(){ stackedResizer(); }); }); Gentle support comes through dance for a fistula survivor and advocate in Soroti, Uganda. A woman with obstructed labor suffers in a health post without support near Soroti, Uganda. TERREWODE staff found her and provided assistance. TERREWODE staff provided support to this woman struggling with obstructed labor at a health post near Soroti. Akello Loy, a the mother of four children, lives in Ogweto Village in the Amuria district of Uganda. She suffered paralysis and a fistula while giving birth to her fourth child. Oregon State students and faculty are working with TERREWODE to learn from and to empower women like Loy. Fistula survivors and advocates sing and dance to welcome TERREWODE representatives to their village. Alice Emasu with newly purchased goats from Heifer International. Milk from this Saanan goat will make its way into soap made by this woman and other fistula survivors. Saanan goat provided by Heifer International. Goat milk soap making by TERREWODE fistula advocates and survivors. Goat milk soap making by TERREWODE fistula advocates and survivors. Goat milk soap making by TERREWODE fistula advocates and survivors. Goat milk soap making by TERREWODE fistula advocates and survivors. Shea nuts harvested by farmers in Soroti, Uganda. Fistula survivors and advocates served by TERREWODE. McKinsey Starguard, a homesteader in Spray, Oregon, makes goat milk soap in her kitchen. Starguard's recipe and bars of soap were gifted to the TERREWODE women and inspired the soap-making project.

The post Photo gallery: TERREWODE in Uganda appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Our Floral Commons

Terra - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 10:52am

Story and photos by Nick Houtman

KRISTEN HILL cares for the plants on her 25-acre Cascades foothills farm with the knowledge and sensitivity that most of us reserve for our closest friends. She nurtures skullcap, borage, calendula and other herbs and yanks out Timothy grass by the handful. In her Douglas-fir woodlot, she fells trees to carve out openings for ocean spray, huckleberry and blackberry. She watches over marshmallow, California poppies, hyssop, stinging nettle and sorrel that survive nestled in a field under towering stalks of Queen Anne’s lace (aka wild carrot), grasses and thistle.

Every species has a role to play and a story to tell, and like a teacher with her students, Hill wants each one to fill its niche. “Take thistle, for example. It’s nasty for a reason,” she says. “It’s a massive toxin-removal plant. Its main job is to restore damaged systems. With its thorns, it’s telling you to leave this place alone. It goes in there with its tap root, breaks the soil up and brings up minerals from deep below.”

In 2013, when Hill bought the farm (“My family has always enjoyed that saying,” she laughs), she wanted to learn more about the plants that had become what she views as her co-conspirators in restoring the land. So she reached out to the state’s top-seeded source of botanical knowledge, the Oregon Flora Project at Oregon State University. This two-decades-long effort to monitor and catalog botanical biodiversity has produced — in print and online — an unparalleled resource for people who manage farms, ranches, forests, roadways, public green spaces and other lands. Key to this accomplishment is a network of more than 1,000 volunteers like Hill, people with a passion and curiosity about the natural world.

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Twice a month, Hill makes the one-hour drive from Holley down the valley of the Calapooia and across the Willamette to Corvallis. She hunkers in the OSU herbarium, the state’s largest collection of dried specimens of plants found within its borders, and pulls out volumes of plants meticulously arranged and annotated like books in a library. Under the supervision of Stephen Myers, Oregon Flora Project taxonomic director, she uses plant samples submitted by other volunteers, whether they be weekend hikers or professional scientists, to confirm or edit the plant identification keys created for the project. Rarely, after she has exhaustively evaluated the color, shape and structure of petals, stems, seeds and other plant parts, she may suggest reassigning the identification of a specimen.

“I literally go character by character,” she says. “Plants are like people. You can bunch them together, but you may not want to say they’re all the same.” Along the way, she is gaining insight into her land in Holley. “I read about these plants and go, ‘Wait, I’ve got that one. Where did I see it?’ I start looking around at home,” she says, “and when I see it, I say ‘That’s you; I know you now.’ It’s helping me get on a higher level and learn about my property.”

Keys to the Planet

In fact, says Linda Hardison, director of the flora project and an assistant professor in the Oregon State Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, knowing what plants are in our midst is key to understanding the environment. “Everything on this planet hinges around plants,” she says. “They make the air we breathe. They are the primary sources of food, from phytoplankton to grasses for cattle. Plants are the lynchpin for the whole planet.”

For people charged with managing a landscape, she adds, not knowing what plants are present would be like making dinner in the dark. “You can fumble around and try things, but without knowing what’s there, you can’t appreciate what options you have.”

The flora project’s roots go back to 1994 when Scott Sundberg acutely felt the need for an accurate, accounting of Oregon’s floral landscape. The Eugene native and graduate of the University of Oregon had just been hired at Oregon State to oversee the integration of herbarium collections from both institutions. By then, the last published assessment of Oregon’s plant diversity was more than 30 years old. He founded the Oregon Flora Project to create an up-to-date resource. He sought advice and contributions from fellow scientists and the public.

“Scott developed a lot of personal relationships to get this program going because he had deep respect for the knowledge that amateur plant enthusiasts possessed,” says Hardison, who was married to Sundberg. “Good examples are the partnership he formed with the Native Plant Society of Oregon and the decade-long exchange of information with Douglas County amateur botanists. Four ladies who met at the Glide Wildflower Show got together and botanized most of Douglas County.” They exchanged plant lists with Sundberg and painstakingly confirmed identifications. Their annotated samples were housed in the county museum. Others became part of the herbarium at Oregon State.

Plant by plant, county by county, Sundberg worked with citizens and professional botanists, such as OSU’s Ken Chambers. Sundberg created a database to organize the hundreds of thousands of plant samples that are glued to sheets of stiff, acid-free paper and stored in cabinets in the OSU herbarium.

One of his goals was to put the complete collection online, where it would be widely available to anyone with an internet connection. With financial support from the National Science Foundation and the federal Bureau of Land Management, Sundberg and a small team of experts developed interactive maps and other digital resources that enable citizens to visualize where and what kinds of plants occupy every nook and cranny of the state (see oregonflora.org).

“Scott was 6 feet, 5 inches, over 200 pounds; he was a big guy, and he loved little duckweeds,” says Hardison. “There he is, this behemoth of a man, crawling around in the pond scum, and he’d be so excited. He had a sharp eye for recognizing all the plants in an area, but he really enjoyed discovering the little things.”

Sundberg’s efforts were cut short when, in 1999, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Having earned her Ph.D. in botany at the University of Washington, Hardison gradually assumed responsibility for the project and became its director after Sundberg’s death in 2004.

Flora of Oregon, Volume 1

In 2015, Hardison and her team reached a milestone. They published Flora of Oregon, Volume 1, part of the first comprehensive treatment of the state’s floral communities in more than a half century. Dedicated to Sundberg, this celebration of Oregon’s remarkable landscape reflects more than 340,000 observations of plants contributed by members of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, Oregon State scientists, government researchers and individuals. It describes plants from the rain forest of the north coast to the arid Columbia basin, from the Siskiyous in the southwest to the Owyhee Uplands in the east.

In addition to laying out grasses, sedges, lilies, ferns, conifers and other plants in exhaustive technical detail, the volume includes a history of botanists in Oregon, including pioneering Oregon State professor Helen M. Gilkey. Color photos highlight plant communities in the state’s 11 major ecoregions. Hikers can use an annotated list of 50 mapped locations to explore Oregon’s botanical heritage.

While Flora of Oregon comprises a snapshot in time, it also marks an ongoing transition. Its roughly 4,700 species, subspecies and varieties include about 15 percent more than were recorded in the 1961 assessment. Some have moved into the state from Nevada and California, possibly reflecting the influence of a warming climate. And, notes Harrison, another 159 found in the previous century have not been collected in the last 50 years. The samples in the OSU herbarium may be the last remnants of their presence in the state.

The project notes a change of another sort, whether a species is native or exotic. While that difference holds meaning for people concerned about invasives and their impact on the environ- ment, “what’s native and what’s not becomes a really squishy question,” Hardison says.

“‘Native’ is an intersection of time and place. You have to consider native over what time period and in what place. You can talk about what’s native to North America, which will be different from what’s native to the Willamette Valley. Some exotic plants can become troublesome, weedy things,” she adds, “because they don’t have the checks and balances of indigenous pests or pathogens to keep populations in equilibrium.”

The Oregon Flora Project uses habitats and ecosystems as a frame of reference. “So when you look at where we are, whether it’s the Willamette Valley, the Columbia Basin or the high lava plains, what plants would you find in undisturbed habitats and plant communities? That can serve as an expression of what’s native,” says Hardison. “Making people aware of the frames of reference is an aha! moment. It’s technical information, but it’s really graspable.”

Plants in Our Future

By providing an outlet for sharing personal interests, the project has inspired people. One woman wrote to Hardison to tell of her father’s enjoyment in finding new flowers on hikes at Crater Lake and along the Umpqua River. They were “the soul-feeding endeavor that gave meaning to his life in retirement,” she said.

For others, Flora has become a useful reference. “The background work that the project has done, and now the book that has been published, has been used by natural resource managers, master gardeners and especially the various native plant societies around the region,” says Russ Karow, the former chair of the Crop and Soil Science department at Oregon State and now director of the Agricultural Research Foundation.

For Kirsten Hill, the notion of what’s native on her farm intersects with the past and her own vision of a diverse, functioning ecosystem. “I can see what’s there now, but I can also see what was there before. I want to restore this place. I want to find a happy medium between what was there before Europeans came over and what we’ve done. We can’t restore to what it was because the climate is warming and plants are moving. I have a 50-year plan, and I’m a little bit bullheaded,” she says with a grin.

The herbs she is planting have another purpose: They can help humans adapt to the stresses of a changing planet. One example is borage (aka star flower), a Mediterranean native that provides dietary micronutrients and fatty acids. Some people have found it to be useful for handling stress. In Hill’s vegetable garden, borage has spread with abandon.

Knowledge of plants is critical to her hopes for the future. “If you don’t understand the environment around you, you’re vulnerable,” she says. “That’s our reason for being here, understanding who we are and how we fit.”

The post Our Floral Commons appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Beyond Encryption

Terra - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 3:28pm

By Rachel Robertson

Although data science and engineering aim to improve our lives — and have done so in many ways — the threat of misuse of our private data and of intrusion into our personal affairs is very real.

Vast amounts of information travel nearly instantaneously between giant server farms and our home computers and handheld devices. We rely on this data for banking, shopping, buying airline tickets, making dates and countless other daily activities. Institutions and businesses collect, analyze and store these data to better serve customers, improve health, perform political functions and much more.

Unencrypted data are vulnerable to attacks that can lead to significant consequences. In 2014, a hack of Sony’s computer system exposed company and personal secrets and destroyed information. An attack on an individual could be as benign as leaked email addresses but can lead to identity theft and major financial headaches. If medical or genomic databases are breached, sensitive personal information such as health status and predisposition to disease could be revealed.

“We need techniques that protect these data, and cryptography traditionally serves as the backbone of security systems to protect the information,” says Attila Yavuz, assistant professor of computer science.

Data in secure systems are encrypted using permutation and substitution operations (methods that scramble and distort data) again and again until the information becomes nearly indistinguishable from random bits. Decryption reverses these steps to restore the integrity of the original.

“We are only in the first stages of a society centered around massive data,” says Mike Rosulek, assistant professor of computer science. “I don’t think we yet understand all the implications of generating and storing it all. I hope it doesn’t take a catastrophic breach to make people realize that cryptographic precautions are necessary.”

Cryptography has come a long way since Alan Turing cracked the Enigma codes during World War II. Advances have made it possible to perform operations on encrypted data without decrypting it first and without leaking critical information.

“We call it the privacy-versus-data-utilization dilemma,” Yavuz says. “When we use strong encryption, accessing and analyzing these data become very difficult. Unless we can break this trade-off, it is really difficult for us to achieve both secure and usable information. So our objective is to fill this gap and create a system where we can search and analyze without compromising the data-analytics functionalities.”

Medical confidential

Yavuz is currently working with Robert Bosch LLC to provide more security for data collected from the company’s medical devices. The research has demonstrated that his dynamic searchable algorithms can make encrypted queries on an encrypted dataset in two to 10 milliseconds per search, without decrypting it. The ultimate goal of his research is to integrate the algorithms into Bosch’s telemedicine database, so that practitioners can remotely access patient data while keeping it secure.

In contrast to Yavuz’s work, which advances applied cryptographic techniques for a specific purpose, Rosulek’s research focuses on theoretical cryptography — finding solutions that can be used to support any kind of computation on encrypted data.

Over the last couple of years, Rosulek has been working on what is known as “garbled circuits.” They are not physical circuits but a cryptographic domain where the computations on encrypted data are performed.

“You can think of a garbled circuit as a sealed box,” he said. “This box is like an isolation or containment chamber with gloves attached to it, so the scientist can reach in and manipulate what is inside. But the garbled circuit is a black box so the operations being performed are not visible.”

The idea for garbled circuits was first introduced in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that people began implementing the techniques with real data. In the last decade, researchers have been working on finding ways to make these operations more efficient.

“Most modern processors have specialized hardware for cryptographic computations, so the computational cost is under control,” Rosulek says. “The bottleneck is the amount of information that has to be exchanged between the parties that are doing the computation. The improvements we make are new, clever ways to encode these encrypted data with all the guarantees of a garbled circuit.”

In two recent publications, Rosulek and colleagues demonstrate that, compared to other approaches, their new algorithms are 33 percent faster and have 33 percent less overhead in the amount of communication required for the computations.

“We also proved that by looking at all the known techniques, you can’t do better than our most recent work,” he adds. “So we have shown that our techniques are optimal until someone invents something totally new. It’s been fun, because it’s spurring people to think of different ideas.”

The challenge of protecting private data is not likely to diminish. The amount of data in the world is doubling every two years and, according to the International Data Corporation, will reach 44 zettabytes (44 trillion gigabytes) by 2020. Much of that will be personal information collected by the millions of smart devices in our homes and cars, or even attached to our bodies.

“One should never forget that it’s vitally important for us to be able to secure our information, because in the future, that will be the single most valuable thing that mankind will possess,” Yavuz says. “Researchers and every individual should realize the importance and value of the information that they have at their hands and try their best to keep it secure.”

The post Beyond Encryption appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Pole Harvest Tour

Forestry Events - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 2:40pm
Tuesday, October 4, 2016 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Tour an active pole harvest site and learn about specific requirements for timber to be sold for use as power poles. The discussion will include when to take poles out of a stand, tree form, roads, site requirements, and economics of such a harvest.

Ken Nygren, Certified Forester of White Oak Natural Resource Service, will lead the tour and will be joined by a Forester from Bell Pole yard in Lebanon. Tour sponsored by Linn and Benton County chapters of Oregon Small Woodlands Assoc.

Directions: Head west from Philomath on Hwy 20 to Wren. Turn right on Hwy 223 Kings Valley Hwy. Go 6.3 miles and turn left on Hoskins Rd (watch for event sign) Proceed 5.2 miles up Hoskins / Luckiamute Rd. There will be another event sign at the gate on the right side of the road. Nearest house address is 39720 Luckiamute Rd. Parking will be across the private bridge. Approximately 30 minutes from Corvallis. 

Woodland Management

Forestry Events - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 2:40pm
Tuesday, October 4, 2016 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

This five-session course is ideal for anyone who is just starting out taking care of a woodland property in Lane, Linn, or Benton Counties.

Topics covered:

  • Getting Started: Assessing your property and your site
  • What’s Going on in Your Woods? Understanding tree biology and forest ecology 
  • Taking Care of Your Woods: Tree planting, care for an established forest, weed control
  • Getting it Done: Safety, timber sale logistics, and laws and regulations.

Shrubs for wildlife – Vine maple

Tree Topics - Mon, 10/03/2016 - 3:53pm

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

Happy fall!

For the fourth installment in our series on native shrubs that are beneficial to wildlife, I’ve chosen one that appropriate to the season, provides some nice fall color to our forests.  Now I’ve met more than a few woodland owners who are not fans of vine maple; it’s not a favorite of those who prefer a tidy or parklike forest. Working or wandering in mature forests you’ve probably tripped over it or crawled under it and possibly cursed it under your breath.  Nevertheless, vine maple is another of those “brush” species that benefits wildlife in numerous ways. With some tolerance for its rambling ways you can find a place for this species to provide that service on your woodland in concert with your other land management goals.  If you are interested in enhancing wildlife habitat on your property, read on for our species profile.

Species name: Vine maple (Acer circinatum)

Two photos taken on the same day and site in late September. Top, on the edge of a patch cut, with colorful foliage and abundant seeds. Bottom, in adjacent mature stand with green foliage and few seeds.

Description: A large, multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree. Like all maples, leaves are lobed like a fan or the palm of your hand (“palmate”) and in opposite arrangement on the branch; seeds are in winged pairs (“samaras”).  The bark is smooth and greenish.  Vine maple grows on moist sites in sun or shade, in regenerating to mature forests.  In sun, its habit is denser and erect; seed production is more abundant, and leaves turn orange to red in fall.  In a shady understory, it lives up to its name, with long spindly stems that arch to the ground and re-root upon contact.  Fall foliage is less brilliant in the shade, and fewer seeds are produced.

Wildlife value: Vine maple is considered a preferred and nutritious summer forage for deer and elk. Elk continue to browse the twigs and buds in winter. Squirrels will cache the seeds for winter feeding. In open regenerating (i.e. early seral) areas, songbirds rely on deciduous shrubs such as vine maple for nesting cover and will forage for insects that feed on the foliage.

Management considerations:  Vine maple is considered a “good shrub to leave behind”, or carry over from one timber rotation to the next to support early seral associated songbirds.  Doing so, acknowledge that you’ll have to grant it a little real estate as it won’t play too well with little neighboring conifer seedlings.  You don’t need a lot to make a difference. Leaving vine maple along the edges of patch cuts or in clumps with other retained shrubs reduces interference with planted trees. In mature stands, vine maple will fill in the understory after thinning or disturbances allow light to filter through the canopy, providing a food resource and cover for deer and elk.


Jensen, E. 2013. Shrubs to Know in Pacific Northwest Forests

Uchytil, R. 1989.  Acer circinatum.

Oregon Forest Resources Institute. 2015. Wildlife in Managed Forests: Early Seral-Associated Songbirds

Woodland Fish & Wildlife. 2014. Managing for Deer and Elk on Small Woodlands.


The post Shrubs for wildlife – Vine maple appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Forest Field Day & Equipment Demonstration

Forestry Events - Sat, 10/01/2016 - 2:36pm
Saturday, October 1, 2016 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This field day will feature demonstrations fo small-scale equipment and techniques useful to woodland owners and other rural landowners.

Fuels reduction, brushing, pruning, slash disposal & chipping, log handling & yarding, pole peeling & utilization, tree planting, fire control and more.

You'll see everything from hand and power tools to tractors with winches for pulling logs and the Ascender, a self-propelled tree pruning system. Small acreage and new and inexperienced landowners are especially encouraged to attend, but there will be something for landowners of every experience level!

More info:


McCool Mill Works Tour

Forestry Events - Sat, 10/01/2016 - 2:36pm
Saturday, October 1, 2016 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
This tour will visit a mill that refinishes old timbers for commercial use. The tour is hosted by Linn County chapter of OSWA.

Native Seed Propagation Workshop

Forestry Events - Sat, 10/01/2016 - 2:36pm
Saturday, October 1, 2016 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Would you like to know how to propagate your own native plants to grow in your forest? If you’re interested in the biology of plants, would like to know how to do it yourself, and are interested in enhancing wildlife habitat, this is the perfect chance! You’re welcome to bring your own collected native fruit or work with what we’ve been busy collecting all summer. This is a combination of learning the biology first in beautiful Everett (Forest) Hall, then heading out to a seed cleaning area where you will get hands-on experience cleaning many different types of fruit.
You’ll learn:
•How to clean fleshy fruit like red-flowering currant, serviceberry, blackhawthorn, snowberry, red-osier dogwood, and twinberry
•Learn the fleshy fermentation process
•How to clean dry fruit like Pacific ninebark and Douglas spirea
•How to ripen cones
•How to clean seeds from Valley Ponderosa pine, western redcedar,noble fir, and western white pine
•When it’s best to buy seed and when it’s helpful to pick your own
•How to store seed
•How to pretreat and overcome dormancy in seed to get it ready for

You will take home some of the provided seed and obtain propagation protocols to know how to grow on your own. For more information about the workshop or if you wish to bring in your own collected native fruit to clean, please contact Jen Gorski, to ensure we review the best cleaning practices for all species prior to the workshop.

Registration is required.


Small Farms Events - Sat, 10/01/2016 - 2:36pm
Saturday, October 1, 2016 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM



This annual event is sponsored by the Rogue Valley Dairy Goat Association. Both Beginner and Advanced workshop tracts are offered. Topics include Goats 101, diseases, parasites, genetics, poisonous plants toxic to goats and other livestock, building a milk stand (complete construction; completed unit will be raffled at this event). A separate cheese-making class taught by Alex Appleman runs from 12:45 to 4 pm for an additional $50 (replacing two afternoon class choices). 



Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Oregon-Canadian Forest Products Facility

Forestry Events - Fri, 09/30/2016 - 2:38pm
Friday, September 30, 2016 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Have you ever wondered what they do at the Oregon-Canadian Forest Products facility in North Plains? Now's your chance to find out! We are scheduled for a tour of the Oregon-Canadian Forest Products facility in North Plains on Friday, September 30 at 9:30 am.

They are the largest remanufacturer of specialty softwood products in North America. As such, they pretty much have at least one of every type of saw imaginable. Their business is to buy high-grade product from sawmills and then sort, dry, re-saw, plane, and ship to wholesale buyers like window and door manufacturers. At their headquarters facility in North Plains, they produce high grade Douglas-fir, Western Red Cedar and Hemlock lumber. In addition, they import and manufacture large volumes of lumber from South America for a variety of specialty applications.

Parking and driving directions:
We will meet at their main building on NW Commercial Street in North Plains. The building is located on the south side of Commercial Street between NW 318th and NW 321st. There is a large American flag and a saw blade with their logo out front. Please park along the north side of Commercial Street but not directly opposite the main building, as that is where the semi trucks stage. Use the head-in paved and striped parking closer to Main St. The facility covers a fairly large site and will require about 1 mile of walking, but they can have a car drive the long distances if we have people who can't walk that far. Expect the tour to take 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

New Sea Grant videos demonstrate how to use StreamWebs kits

Breaking Waves - Fri, 09/30/2016 - 9:56am

Two new videos from Oregon Sea Grant demonstrate how to collect and identify aquatic insects and test water quality using kits available from StreamWebs.

One of the videos, How to use StreamWebs’ macroinvertebrate kit, shows educators how to teach students to collect and identify aquatic insects using the macroinvertebrate kit and data sheets. The other, How to use StreamWebs’ LaMotte water quality kit, shows how to teach students to test water quality using a kit with equipment made by LaMotte.

The kits are among several that educators can borrow from StreamWebs, a program administered by Oregon Sea Grant. StreamWebs provides educators with field equipment, data sheets, lesson plans and training so they can teach students how to collect data about the health of waterways. It also provides an online database where students can enter and analyze the information they gathered.

Both videos were produced by Oregon Sea Grant’s Renee O’Neill and Vanessa Cholewczynski and shot and edited by Cholewczynski. Special thanks to Angela Clegg with the South Santiam Watershed Council; students from Foster Elementary School in Sweet Home, Oregon; Grayson Johnston; and Zethan Brandenburger.

The post New Sea Grant videos demonstrate how to use StreamWebs kits appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

New Sea Grant videos demonstrate how to use StreamWebs kits

Sea Grant - Fri, 09/30/2016 - 9:56am

Two new videos from Oregon Sea Grant demonstrate how to collect and identify aquatic insects and test water quality using kits available from StreamWebs.

One of the videos, How to use StreamWebs’ macroinvertebrate kit, shows educators how to teach students to collect and identify aquatic insects using the macroinvertebrate kit and data sheets. The other, How to use StreamWebs’ LaMotte water quality kit, shows how to teach students to test water quality using a kit with equipment made by LaMotte.

The kits are among several that educators can borrow from StreamWebs, a program administered by Oregon Sea Grant. StreamWebs provides educators with field equipment, data sheets, lesson plans and training so they can teach students how to collect data about the health of waterways. It also provides an online database where students can enter and analyze the information they gathered.

Both videos were produced by Oregon Sea Grant’s Renee O’Neill and Vanessa Cholewczynski and shot and edited by Cholewczynski. Special thanks to Angela Clegg with the South Santiam Watershed Council; students from Foster Elementary School in Sweet Home, Oregon; Grayson Johnston; and Zethan Brandenburger.

The post New Sea Grant videos demonstrate how to use StreamWebs kits appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

What to do about those drought-damaged trees?

Tree Topics - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 2:35pm

By Amy Grotta and Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension

Group mortality of Douglas-fir in May 2015. Douglas-fir beetle was found in all these trees. Photo Kara Shaw

We have certainly experienced some significant drought conditions lately.  Stressed and dying trees are showing up all around the Willamette Valley, with concern that this could lead to beetle outbreaks and still more trees killed.  Is it time to throw in the towel, cut your losses (so to speak) and just salvage everything that is looking poorly?  Maybe, maybe not.  The decision needs to be considered carefully, weighing individual sites and stand conditions along with your objectives for your property.  Anybody considering a salvage harvest needs to look before they leap.

As we’ve discussed several times over the past few years, 2013-2015 were hard drought years and we continue to see the cumulative effects on our trees. Many trees, conifers in particular, have dead tops or have died outright.  Since drought symptoms typically take a season or two to be expressed, what showed up this year is a result of damage from 2015.  So far 2016 is proving to be a more normal year, though it remains to be seen how the fall and winter will play out.  If we continue to get decent rainfall then we should start to see new damage taper off, but it’s too early to tell.

Beetles are a concern and both Extension and ODF have been getting plenty of calls about this.   Yes, bark beetles have been more active in the Valley this year in drought-stressed stands.  We expect this since beetles make their living off of dying trees, and are often seen more as a symptom than a cause of problems.  Having drought stressed trees does not automatically mean bark beetles will come find them.  And there are several types of bark beetles, some more damaging than others.

Reddish frass in bark crevices is a sign of Douglas-fir beetle. Photo: B. Withrow-Robinson

That said, if you have trees that suffered partial damage a year or two ago, and then died completely this year, it is worth taking a closer look on these and surrounding live trees for signs and symptoms of bark beetles such as pitch streams, frass, and fading crowns on live trees. Fact sheets from the Oregon Department of Forestry on the Douglas-fir beetle and the fir engraver will help you.  If you see something of concern you can contact the ODF Forest Health experts or your OSU Extension Agent for help (for backyard trees, call a certified arborist).  Where there are significant numbers of beetles, landowners will be looking to sanitize their stands by removing infested trees before new adults emerge next spring.

This is where you want to exercise caution and be wary of door knockers.

Regrettably there is a history of shady operators approaching landowners telling them one story or another about their trees dying or markets disappearing and encouraging them to harvest trees “before it is too late”.  It is invariably tied to an offer to take care of the problem for them.  Unfortunately, the landscape is littered with stories of folks who have accepted those offers and sold off some timber they had not otherwise intended to sell, often for much less than it was worth.

We are aware of a number of small woodland owners in the Valley having received unsolicited offers to buy their timber as a way to mitigate drought damage. The “buyers” warn of all the trees damaged by drought being killed by beetles and being lost unless harvested, and encouraging people to sell and get some value before everything dies.

Unsolicited offers to buy timber are nothing new to small woodland owners, and we always advise to be wary of them.  But this seems like a time to be particularly cautious.

An unsolicited buyer offering to assess the health of your trees for you is a clear conflict of interest and a definite red flag.  One outcome could be the buyer exaggerating the potential for future loss, thereby convincing you to sell healthy trees you had no intention to log or to accept a lower price for the timber than you’d like (claiming that it’s “better than nothing”).  Have a third party help you evaluate damage and if you think you want to proceed with salvage or sanitation harvest, move ahead as recommended with any harvest and seek bids from different operators.

You should realize that nobody knows the fate of these trees with any certainty.  Drought conditions may be winding down, or may stick around for a while yet.   Both choices – wait and see or do some preemptive salvage – involve risks that you need weigh.  Don’t be driven by speculative claims about the trees dying, and do not panic.  One or two beetle-killed trees in a stand is not an uncommon event and not a certain epidemic in the making.  The decision to salvage needs to be well-timed and well-planned.  Starting the job and then not finishing before beetles emerge in spring, or not properly dealing with slash, can make matters worse instead of better.  Applying pheromone caps is another option to protect healthy trees if beetle-infested material cannot be removed in a timely manner.

So, suppose that you’ve done your homework and decide that salvaging drought-damaged or insect-damaged trees is in your best interest and meets your property objectives.  You still have some due diligence to take care of.  Get bids and ask the logger for references, go see his past jobs and talk with people who worked with him.  Contact ODF to find out if there are any past violations, or the Association of Oregon Loggers for information on their credentials.  Finally, insist on a written contract.  Consult these publications for more guidance: Small Scale Harvesting for Woodland Owners and Contracts for Woodland Owners.

A final note, landowners in Linn, Benton and Lane Counties can sign up receive Emergency Forest Restoration Funds to remove drought-killed trees through the Farm Services Agency.  More info here (scroll down).  Folks in the northern Valley counties can get in touch with their local FSA to check on the availability of funds.

The post What to do about those drought-damaged trees? 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