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Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Fri, 07/08/2016 - 11:16am

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you have not found it yet, keep looking. Do not settle. ~~Steve Jobs.

Last week I wrote about an epiphany I had many years ago, one in which I did not settle. 

I made choices about the work I did. I made choices about the life I lived. I did not settle.

It is an easy life to “go with the flow”; to settle, if you will. Convenience is not always the best way even though it might be the easiest. Did I do great work? I don’t know. Did I hear stories of the work I did? I was told after the fact that I had made a difference because of the work I had done. Perhaps, making a difference is doing great work. Perhaps.

However, this quote from Steve Jobs reminded me that loving what one does is important, even if one does not do “great work”. If one does not love what one does, one needs to do what one loves.

So where does evaluation fit in all this? Let me see if I can connect the dots…

I learned about evaluation because a professor needed a statistician. (What she really needed was an evaluator to determine merit, worth, value of her program.) I was in graduate school at the time and needed an assistantship to help me with the financial load. I got the job. In the process, I realized that my educational psychology degree in cognitive psychology wouldn’t really help me even though there were a lot of puzzles to be solved. Evaluation was more hands on and less abstract. I switched “majors”. I learned that solving the puzzle was great fun; I loved it. The puzzle that I needed to solve was whether the program that is, “a set of planned activities and dedicated resources directed toward achievement of specified goal or objective” (quoted from a 2006 EPA flyer) made a difference. So program evaluation was “an individual systematic study that uses objective measurement and analysis to answer specific questions about how well a program is working to achieve its outcomes and why”(quoted from a 2006 EPA flyer). Important words: systematic study, objective measurement, specific questions, achieve its outcomes, why. I loved this work. I studied hard and long. I learned about bias (everyone has bias and therefore is only as objective as the biases are).  I attended the first national evaluation conference in Austin, Texas in 1981. (Did anyone ever tell you that west Texas goes on forever? Trust me, it does.) I met other evaluators. I became an evaluator. Bob Ingle was significant in that process. Jim Altschuld was also. There are others to be sure. I loved being an evaluator (still do). I then wanted to do “great work”. The work is the key here, as my work was the doing of evaluation; the being in the trenches. Not the research. Not the teaching. Not the writing (I’ll leave that to Altschuld). The important point here is I LOVE WHAT I AM DOING, being an evaluator. Dots connected.

Bottom line: Love what you are doing; do what you love.

My .






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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Using native seeds for land stewardship

Forestry Events - Wed, 07/06/2016 - 2:35pm
Wednesday, July 6, 2016 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Learn how to use native plant seeds that are ecologically appropriate for our region as a key component for a successful habitat restoration project. Native plants can be used in pollinator gardens, rock gardens, butterfly gardens, native plant landscaping and more. We will focus on methods for seed harvesting, drying, cleaning, etc.

Suzie Savoie along with her husband, Luke, own Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds, which specializes in bioregional, localized genetic seed stock for native plantings and habitat restoration in southern Oregon.  Suzie lives off-grid at the foot of the Siskiyou Crest.  She is an avid hiker, botany enthusiast and conservationist.

Please register!

Blueberry Field Day

Small Farms Events - Wed, 07/06/2016 - 2:35pm
Wednesday, July 6, 2016 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Annual Blueberry Field Day!  

Agenda with all the details!

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Native Seed Collection

Small Farms Events - Wed, 07/06/2016 - 2:35pm
Wednesday, July 6, 2016 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Suzie Savoie.
Learn how to save seed from our Southern Oregon native plants.   Useful for restoration and native horticulture.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

New curriculum explores microplastics in the sea

Breaking Waves - Tue, 06/28/2016 - 9:25am

A new middle school science curriculum from Oregon Sea Grant guides teachers and their 6th- through 8th-grade students through the growing threat to our oceans posed by microplastics – tiny particles of plastic which wind up in the sea.

Microplastics – particles less than five millimeters in size that deteriorate from larger plastic pieces, as well as plastic “microbeads” used in personal care products such as face and body scrubs – have emerged as a growing ocean pollution concern due to their small size and persistence in the environment.

A 2015 study published in Environmental Science & Technology estimated that eight trillion microbeads were entering aquatic environments throughout the United States every day. When consumed by crustaceans, shellfish and other marine animals, the plastics can affect reproduction, growth and survival.

The new, 70-page curriculum, compiled by Marie Kowalski, a recent graduate of OSU’s Marine Resource Management program in collaboration with Oregon Sea Grant’s marine program manager, Tracy Crews, includes three lessons designed to engage students with the issue by analyzing the problem and investigating possible solutions.

The lessons include opportunities for student inquiry, as well as collaboration and engagement with real data collected by researchers working in the field. Each lesson includes an estimated length, which will vary by classroom. The entire curriculum is designed to take about one week, but may be extended by including a project at the end of the curriculum.

The curriculum is available, free of charge, as an accessible .pdf download from the Oregon Sea Grant Website.

Learn more:

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Shrubs for wildlife: Snowberry

Tree Topics - Fri, 06/24/2016 - 10:11am

By Brandy Saffell and Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension

Snowberry leaves and fruit in the fall. Photo: Pat Breen, OSU

If one of your land management goals is to provide wildlife habitat, you’ll want to consider keeping a mix of native shrub species on your property. Shrubs provide a host of services to wildlife, including shelter or cover, nesting space, and food from their twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruit. With thought given to species selection and location, retaining existing shrubs or planting them can benefit wildlife without compromising timber growth or forest operations. This is the second article in our Shrubs for Wildlife series (first is here). Each article will highlight one species that benefits wildlife in northwest Oregon forests.

Species Name: Common snowberry – Symphoricarpos albus

Description: Snowberry is a medium sized shrub, growing in thickets and up to six feet tall. The leaves are simple, opposite, deciduous, and variable in shape. They are generally oval but can be nearly round (3/4 – 2 1/2” long). The leaf edges vary from entire to shallowly lobed on the same plant and same stem. The flowers are small (1/4”), pink-white, bell-shaped, and found in clusters at the end of the branch. The round, white, waxy berries persist into the winter; they are non-edible to humans and toxic due to the saponin they contain. Twigs are opposite, slender, smooth, and yellow-brown.

Small pink blossoms are present this time of year. Photo: A. Grotta

Wildlife Value: Snowberry is useful to pollinators as a host and food plant. The flowers attract Anna’s and rufous hummingbirds, as well as various insects including bees. Several birds have been observed eating the berries, such as towhees, thrushes, robins, grosbeaks, and waxwings. Birds also use snowberry thickets for cover. In addition, the Vashti sphinx moth (Sphinx vashti) relies on it as a food plant in its larval stage.

Management Considerations: Following harvest, snowberry resprouts readily from belowground.  To ensure optimum survival and growth of planted trees, control snowberry where it is likely to overtop planted seedlings.  Consider retaining snowberry plants on the site where they are not in direct competition with seedlings.  For those who would like to actively enhance wildlife habitat by planting snowberry, it tolerates a variety of environments, and can be planted in coarse sand to fine-textured clay, full sun to dense understory, dry well-drained slops to moist stream banks, and low to high nutrient soils.  It also establishes readily and tolerates general neglect.

Plant habit and fruit in winter. Photos: Pat Breen, OSU

If you are interested in learning more about creating wildlife habitat on your property, check out the Woodland Fish and Wildlife website.



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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