Governor's award recognizes OSU Extension volunteer

September 21, 2007

CENTRAL POINT, Ore - When Matt Epstein moved to Oregon 13 years ago, he didn't know anything about the Oregon State University Extension Service. But he knew he needed local gardening information and help managing the woodlands around his new home.

He enrolled in OSU Extension's Master Gardener program in Jackson County; and later he trained to become an OSU Master Woodland manager. "I was amazed to learn about the information and resources available to me at OSU Extension," Epstein said.

This month, Epstein will be honored with the Governor's Volunteer Award for outstanding senior volunteer from Oregon's southwest region.

"I'm just one of hundreds of Extension volunteers across Oregon who donate their time to help their communities," Epstein said. "This award is not about me. It's about the opportunity that Extension programs create to develop our youth, promote responsible natural resource management and foster local economic development."

Volunteers are the heartbeat of OSU's outreach education, according to Scott Reed, vice provost and director of OSU Extension. In 2006, more than 25,000 people volunteered their time in Extension programs such as 4-H, watershed stewardship, Master Gardeners, and many more.

"That is the equivalent of a full-time workforce of more than 800 people, nearly double the number of paid Extension workers," Reed said.

After completing his master-level training with OSU experts, Epstein volunteered his time helping others in Jackson County, as part of the community service network that OSU Extension fosters. For the last two years, Epstein has co-chaired the statewide Extension Community Advisory Network, helping county offices of OSU Extension throughout Oregon organize their own corps of volunteers.

"Matt Epstein is a remarkable volunteer and a tremendous asset to southwest Oregon," said Phil VanBuskirk, chair of the Jackson County office of OSU Extension. "He has focused his laser-like attention on critical public issues such as forest management, meth abuse, and supporting outreach education."

Epstein will receive his award, along with 21 other outstanding volunteers, at the Oregon Governor's Volunteer Awards luncheon on Fri., Sept. 28, at the Salem Conference Center. For tickets or more information, call 888-353-4483, or visit: www.oregonvolunteers.org

Author: Peg Herring
Source: Phil VanBuskirk, Scott Reed