Outreach and Communications
Forestry Extension Adapts to Major Funding Cuts
OSU Extension has served the people of Oregon for over a century, offering valuable educational services to individuals, businesses, and community organizations throughout the state. Extension has made significant contributions to the economic strength and stability of the region. As a result of statewide budget reductions, the College of Forestry's Extension program, along with other Extension programs throughout the University, has endured significant appropriated funding reductions in the current biennium. Fortunately, the College was able to pledge funding that allows all currently funded positions to remain in place through the biennium, postponing major cuts in faculty support. Recent and projected faculty and staff vacancies created through retirements will be left unfilled, at least for the near future.
The next biennial budget decisions are nearly two years away, but the Extension Service has a reduction plan in place that would, if no increase in state funding occurs, reduce nearly all on-campus Extension faculty positions to half-time and several off-campus positions to less than fulltime. While most Forestry Extension jobs would be slimmed down, no one is expected to lose his or her job as a result of the cuts. Extension program leaders continue to look at alternative organizational strategies and funding sources to maintain the highest level of service possible under the circumstances.
"It has inspired a level of creativity and energy directed to new funding models that may not have been there before," says Scott Reed, Executive Associate Dean and Program Leader of Forestry Extension. "We are attempting to maintain the breadth of expertise that makes this forestry program what it is, and we share a hopeful optimism that better days lie ahead. If we can bridge our way to that new future, then we're ready to rebound."
Reed says the College has adopted a faculty entrepreneurial model. "Finding creative funding alternatives is now everyone's job," he says. Extension foresters met last spring to brainstorm ways to sustain the program's excellence. One of the outcomes of the brainstorming was to engage in a significant development program to create endowments for Forestry Extension. Other strategies consist of forming strategic alliances that will bring supplementary funding for Extension positions, testing a more aggressive use of program fees, and focusing more energy on gathering grant funds.
Reed sees some danger in relying too much on grants as a funding source. "If part of your time is paid for by a grantor, that typically generates an arrangement whereby the grantor has explicit accountability expectations and we are therefore obligated to focus on that and only that," he says. "The overall effect may be to allow us less time to be in touch with local community issues and less responsive to emerging forestry issues. We don't want to be a grant-driven education machine rather than a public educator."
Wherever possible, the College continues to buffer reductions in state appropriated funds with resources from the active management of College forests in order to support missions throughout the College, including Forestry Extension.
International Opportunities Await Forestry Grads
The Peace Corps provides opportunities for Forestry graduates to hone their skills and supplement their education while performing valuable services to developing countries. Peter Giampaoli, who finished his responsibilities as OSU's Peace Corps representative last spring, says the Peace Corps considers forestry a "scarce skill," meaning that the organization receives more requests from host countries for volunteers with forestry backgrounds than it has qualified applicants to fill those positions.
Those with degrees in forestry and related fields are often assigned to government ministries or non-governmental organizations assisting and advising local reforestation and afforestation activities. Some may work with local groups to develop ecotourism opportunities in nearby forests or assist in the development and marketing of nontimber forest products. Others may work with host country counterparts in soil conservation, agroforestry extension activities, setting up community nurseries, distributing seeds and seedlings to local groups and individuals, and promoting the planting of various multipurpose tree species compatible with agricultural crops.
"While the Peace Corps places volunteers from a diverse range of majors, host countries are often seeking volunteers with technical skills related to agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, and environmental science," Giampaoli says.
"Our grads have a lot to offer," agrees David Zahler, Instructional Designer/Media Specialist and Instructor, Forest Resources. "They are skills-rich and often experiencerich at a regional scale. Peace Corps is a fantastic vehicle to make CoF grads experiencerich at an international scale." Zahler joined the Peace Corps along with his wife shortly after finishing his MS degree through Forest Resources. Prior to that, Zahler had earned his BS in Forest Management from OSU, and then worked in various entry-level forest research positions, mainly in Oregon. His experience in the Peace Corps — being stationed in a small, Mayan-speaking village as part of a CARE International agroforestry/natural resource conservation project in central Guatemala —brought more than just work experience, however. "Working in Guatemala was many things for me," says Zahler. "To sum it all up, it was life-changing."
John Bliss, Associate Department Head in Forest Resources and Giampaoli's graduate advisor, offers similar views. Bliss, who taught English in Afghanistan in 1974-1976, says that his Peace Corps service was pivotal not only to his choice of career, but to the lifestyle and values that have directed his life.
Bliss strongly disagrees with what he calls the "myth" that Peace Corps training constitutes a diversion from the job market for recent graduates, however. "On the contrary, my Peace Corps experience gave me the edge over competitors in every single job I've ever applied for," he says. "Peace Corps volunteers often have a higher level of responsibility in their assignments than they would likely experience in a job here in the U.S. as recent graduates."
Giampiaoli concurs, adding, "my Peace Corps experience provided practical experience with some of the concepts and theories I learned about in classes. I also believe the initiative, patience, and commitment I learned as a volunteer have been useful qualities during my graduate studies." Giampaoli worked in Rwenzori Mountains National Park in southwestern Uganda alongside park staff and WWF advisors on agroforestry and soil conservation extension activities, as well as on daily operations at the park. He also worked with local community groups to find funding for projects such as school construction.
"One of the most valuable lessons from my experience was the recognition of the tension between people and their needs—such as wood for building and firewood and land for game and for food—and the establishment of protected areas for conservation," says Giampaoli. "It reinforced my interest in the involvement of communities in conservation planning and management, particularly in developing countries."
Ben Swartley of the Sustainable Forestry Partnership at OSU also attended graduate school after serving in the Peace Corps from 1995 to 1999. Swartley was a secondary science teacher for two years and an environmental educator and conservation volunteer for two more years in the central African nation of Cameroon. Although his first degree was in chemistry, he says, "my service in Cameroon helped lead me to a natural resources degree because I saw the impact that poor resource management had on the people of Cameroon. I wanted to apply what I learned at OSU toward helping the developing world better manage its resources so as to lead to improved conditions for all." Swartley, who finished up his MS in Forest Products and Forest Science at OSU last year, will go to work for USAID this spring.
Amy Grotta, Faculty Research Assistant in Wood Science & Engineering, notes that her experience inspired her to pursue a master's degree in Forestry. " I returned with a much broader perspective. I realized that forestry means many different things, depending on who you are and where in the world you live," she says. Grotta volunteered in Paraguay in 1996-1998. She served in agroforestry extension, helping small landowners incorporate trees into their farms for diverse purposes. Ben Spong, a graduate student in Forest Engineering, also served as an agroforestry extension agent, but on a different continent. Spong worked in the West African nation of Mauritania, 1994-1995. Several other faculty members and graduate students in the College are RPCVs, including Barbara Gartner (Associate Professor, Wood Science & Engineering), who served in Guatemala; Margo Stoddard (Faculty Research Assistant, Forest Science) who was in the Central African Republic, 1991-1994; and grad students Scott Walter, (Forest Science), Guatemala, and Adam Wiskind (Forest Resources), Honduras.
With twenty students currently serving as volunteers, OSU ranks 25th nationally among medium-size colleges and universities. The Peace Corps pays for all training, living, medical, and travel expenses during the two-year term of service. Returned Peace Corps volunteers also have an advantage over many other applicants when applying for federal jobs in agencies such as the Forest Service: one year of non-competitive status.
"Peace Corps is one of the best ways to get grass-roots, international, ‘extensionesque' work experience for College of Forestry grads," Zahler says. "Such experience never looks bad on a resume, and it provides one with perspective that is difficult to get elsewhere." For more info, contact OSU Peace Corps Representative, Mike Roman (email@example.com).
Tree School SOUTH a big success
One hundred and fifty family forestland owners, loggers, professional foresters, arborists, teachers, and otherwise "forestry-inclined" persons attended the second annual Tree School SOUTH on Tuesday, June 17, 2003, on the campus of Umpqua Community College just north of Roseburg.
The Extension Service mini-college featured twenty-two classes on vegetation management and reforestation, riparian planting and silviculture, insects and diseases of conifers and hardwoods, thinning, small-scale logging, wildfire, hydrology and water regulations, soils, forest protection rules, tree identification, Christmas tree management, certification and sustainability, and, a special series on cruising, falling, bucking, and scaling timber.The one-day event offered classroom and field sessions taught by Extension foresters, professional industry foresters, and other resource management professionals. Classes varied in length from 1.5 to 3.5 hours and participants could attend up to four over the course of the day.
John Punches, Extension Forester for Douglas County and Tree School SOUTH host, considered the event a success."It was a lot of work, but the feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive and their enthusiasm for the classes was obvious.The event wasn't even over and we already had participants asking when we'd host the next one." He credits the event's success to the "tremendous" participation from volunteers and instructors."The volunteers and instructors are what makes this event possible. I didn't have to twist anybody's arm to get their help, they all gave willingly of their time and expertise and made Tree School SOUTH an excellent learning opportunity."
Tree School SOUTH is modeled after the very successful Tree School held in Clackamas County each spring. Says Punches,"The SOUTH version is envisioned as an annual regional event that will rotate among the southwest Oregon counties. Douglas County hosted the first two, but next year's Tree School SOUTH will be held either in Lane County or in Jackson County."
Those interested in an invitation to the next Tree School SOUTH should contact their local Extension Office and ask to be placed on its forestry mailing list. They should also watch for program announcements on the web sites of the Douglas, Lane, and Jackson County Extension Offices, http://extension.oregonstate. edu/county.html. Just click on the county of interest.
New Challenges Ahead for Mike Cloughesy and Barb Schrader
The Forest Resources Department held an informal send-off in August for Mike Cloughesy and Barb Schrader, who have taken new jobs that will foster their career development. Mike is the new Director of Forestry Information and Interpretation for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) in Portland, but will be continuing his close association with the College. Barb has been named the new Regional Ecologist for the Forest Service in Juneau. Both have served the Department and College faithfully and well for many years, and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors.
Jim Reeb, Associate Professor in Wood Science and Engineering and Forestry Extension Specialist, has joined the Outreach Office as the new Director.
After 27 years, Jerry Sills is hanging up his tool belt and heading for New Mexico to study the ancient indigenous cultures of the Southwest United States. Good luck, Jerry!
Web Coordinator joins FCG
Susan McEvoy has joined the Forestry Communication Group as web coordinator. She has responsibility for oversight of all college-level web pages and is actively involved in improving the appearance and presence of electronic material. Susan will help faculty and researchers meet their educational, research and outreach requirements via the web. Additionally, she is working to make past and future Focus issues more accessible on the web.
Editorial Assistant Steps Up
Leah Rosin, Editorial Assistant for the Focus on Forestry from 2002-2003 and recent OSU grad, has accepted a job as Assistant Editor in Eugene for the Biotechnology trade journal, BioProcess International, published by Informa Life Sciences Group of Westborough, Massachusetts. Rosin, who received a bachelor's degree in Natural Resources Communications in June, spent the summer as a Forest Officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry Dallas office.
Rosin said that the specialization of her major enabled her to be competitive with other job candidates."Mixing science and writing in my undergraduate studies really helped," Rosin said. "I'm glad I created my own option within the Natural Resources program. It really enabled me to get the job I wanted when I graduated."
Forestry Communications Group, Peavy Hall 256