Our Impact in Portland

Through research and partnerships throughout the greater Portland metropolitan area, Oregon State University faculty and staff are working to improve the economic health and preserve the quality of life of the region and the state. Strategic partnerships with the Oregon Humane Society, government agencies, Oregon Health and Science University and other institutions of higher education provide invaluable opportunities that benefit both Oregon State students and the Portland-area public.

OSU Extension Service partners with local agencies to provide learning experiences for youth and programs for adults ranging from health and gardening to natural resources and forestry. Nearly 8,000 current students from the Portland area comprise approximately 35 percent of Oregon State’s enrollment, and nearly 30 percent of Oregon State transfer students come from Portland-area community colleges (Portland, Clackamas and Mt. Hood). In addition, more than 40,000 alumni, or 26 percent of all OSU alum, live and work in the Portland Metro area.

Oregon State University’s impact in the Portland area reaches throughout the economy, classrooms and the diverse neighborhoods and communities of Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Columbia counties. Here are some narrative examples of Oregon State’s impact and how the University bolsters people, the economy, quality of human life and the environment in the Portland region.

Food Innovation Center: Portland’s culinary incubator 

Megan Aul assists with the tests in the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center test kitchen in Portland.Portland is known as a foodie’s paradise, and Oregon State’s Food Innovation Center helps turn culinary innovations into commercial products for both new and existing companies, with services ranging from research and testing, to packaging design to marketing and business plan development.

One of the FIC’s local success stories is Ruby Jewel Treats. Lisa Herlinger’s ice cream sandwiches, made from all-natural, local ingredients, were a hit at a Portland farmer’s market. Seeing the potential for expansion, she turned to the FIC for help with recipe development, ramping up production and packaging. Starting with a few Portland-area markets and co-ops, the company’s distribution network has grown rapidly, and Ruby Jewel Treats can now be found at supermarkets and independent grocery stores in 10 states, as well as at the company’s own scoop shop in north Portland.

Enhancing public health and quality of life

College of Pharmacy student conducting free screenings at Corvallis farmer's marketOregon State takes a multidisciplinary approach to health and well-being in people’s lives and in communities statewide. Research, education and outreach programs address public health concerns like obesity, environmental health and disease prevention; develop innovative treatments and medicines; and prepare the next generation of public health specialists, pharmacists and veterinarians.

Among OSU’s assets are the state’s first and only College of Public Health and Human Sciences, the oldest and largest College of Pharmacy and the only College of Veterinary Medicine. PHHS and OSU Extension offer a range of nutrition, fitness and wellness programs throughout the Portland area. Pharmacy students gain hands-on experience at 400 Portland sites, including the Old Town Clinic. And every veterinary student completes a two-week clinical rotation at the Oregon Humane Society, which includes assisting in about 800 surgeries annually.

Supporting a Portland signature industry

Leslie BurnsPortland is the epicenter of the U.S. outdoor and athletic apparel industry, anchored by headquarters for Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Adidas, as well as 300 other athletic and design firms. The Portland Development Commission has identified this as a signature industry, with the goal to generate 10,000 new jobs in the Portland area over the next five years.

With the only research-based apparel-design school on the West Coast, Oregon State provides both groundbreaking research and qualified graduates to support the industry’s growth. Leslie Burns leads a research team focused on sustainable fabrics, and OSU provides technical support to both startups and industry leaders, helping them develop high-performance sportswear, shoes, jackets and other gear that resists wind and rain, holds in warmth while wicking out sweat, weighs little, but breathes a lot.

Business over breakfast

Business BreakfastFamily-run businesses in the Portland area are finding a valuable new way to start their day several times a year. Sponsored by the Austin Family Business Program, the Business for Breakfast series brings family business owners together for networking and in-depth discussions about common challenges and opportunities.

Sessions are led by an Austin Family Business Program board member and feature open, honest conversations about day-to-day operations, finances, corporate governance as well as issues related to succession. Last year, more than 95 people representing nearly 60 local businesses participated in the program.

Established in 1985, the Austin Family Business Program in the College of Business has offered innovative workshops and seminars to help family businesses successfully balance the well-being of the business, the family and individual members.

Positive for youth 

Matt Ferguson’s life changed when he learned his mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. After chemotherapy was over and they knew she was going to get better, Matt and his 4-H club turned the experience into something positive.

Having seen how chemotherapy can be a difficult journey, especially at the beginning, he created Matt’s Chemo Bags to help newly diagnosed breast cancer patients feel more comfortable on their first day. He and his 4-H club solicited donations from local businesses for comfort items like pillows, Kleenex, lotion, warm socks, silk scarves and antibacterial lotion.

A seven-year 4-H member and a sophomore at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Matt was awarded The Prudential Spirit of Community Award and the President’s Volunteer Gold Service Award, a nationwide program honoring outstanding volunteerism.

Connecting to the farm

Lisa BattanWhen Lisa Battan was laid off from her marketing position at a Portland area firm, she turned it into an opportunity to pursue a longtime dream.

Lisa had always wished she could live on a farm raising and caring for animals. So she and her children began volunteering at Alpenrose Dairy in Portland, doing chores like cleaning stalls and grooming horses. Seeing the benefits that working with animals brought to her children, Lisa wanted to give that experience to others.

Working with the Multnomah and Washington County 4-H Program, she helped create the 4-H Farm Discovery Program at Alpenrose Dairy. The program gives urban youth hands-on experience with animal husbandry, animal science and agriculture, helping them understand how people depend on farming and ranching for their daily needs.

Passion and discovery

4-HLinnaea Schall’s passion for natural resources began at Portland’s Beaumont Middle School when she entered the 4-H Youth Program’s Inner City Youth Institute (ICYI). Through field trips, community service projects, wildlife monitoring and other activities that continued through her high school years, Linnaea took advantage of every opportunity to discover and explore the natural world.

Linnaea credits ICYI programming for nurturing her interest in natural resource education, an interest she’s pursuing as an Oregon State student in the College of Forestry. She remains active in the ICYI program, giving back as a mentor to middle and high school students.

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