Supporting Oregon’s Economy

Oregon farm

Serving Oregon’s 36 counties

Since 1911, the OSU Extension Service has been providing research-based educational programs across the state. A total of more than 200 Extension faculty are located on the Corvallis campus and in each of Oregon’s 36 counties. Programs focused on agriculture, family and community health, forestry, 4-H youth development and marine resources help Oregonians of all ages and in both rural and urban settings solve problems, develop skills and manage resources wisely.

A statewide network of 18,900 volunteers works with with OSU Extension Service faculty to lead programs such as 4-H, Master Gardeners, nutrition and health assistance and others. OSU Extension Service programs reach an estimated 2.3 million Oregonians every year — nearly two-thirds of the state’s population.

Oregon Open Campus: extending education

OSU Extension Service has recently expanded its educational commitment by launching the Oregon Open Campus Initiative. This partnership links Oregon State, local community colleges, K-12 school districts, local governments and businesses to address economic and quality of life issues specific to each community. Launched in Tillamook, Jefferson and Crook counties in 2010, additional Oregon Open Campus programs will begin in other communities across the state this year.

Oregon Open Campus programs have the potential to serve the more than 750,000 Oregonians who have some college experience, but who have not completed a degree. Seminars, presentations and training programs will support economic development, workforce advancement and lifelong learning, as well as help participants gain professional credentials. Oregon Open Campus complements the more than 700 online courses available through OSU Extended  Campus, making learning from Oregon State possible almost anywhere.

Local Support for Local Programs

As the state’s land grant university, one of Oregon State’s primary responsibility is to serve Oregonians, addressing the unique issues and needs of their communities. OSU Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station and Forest Research Lab faculty work with business people, growers, foresters and community members to share research findings and put knowledge to work. These Statewide Public Service programs not only strengthen Oregon’s natural resource-based industries, they support small businesses, enhance public health and help build thriving communities.

And their work is valued across Oregon: Citizens in 20 counties have passed local tax service districts, ensuring permanent support for their local Extension service. Many other Oregon counties provide annual appropriations from their general funds. In addition, community and business partners contribute to operating costs of some local programs. In the Portland area for example, nearly 30 public and private organizations support OSU Extension Service programming, multiplying the value of base program funding.

Such investments pay handsome dividends. In 2010 alone, Oregon State faculty secured $97 million in outreach-related grants and contracts that provided more than $200 million in economic benefits and created more than 3,000 jobs statewide.

Despite the specific, significant impacts of Statewide Public Service Programs, a weak economy and resulting reduced public funding have made cutbacks necessary in recent years. In characteristic fashion however, OSU Extension has gained efficiencies through virtual and online resources and has created regional, multi-county approaches that have lessened the impact of staffing reductions. At the same time, it is critical to the communities that Statewide Public Service Programs serve that budgets are not cut further. Such additional cuts would prevent the OSU Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station and Forest Research Lab from continuing even their currently reduced programs.

Marine science education and research

ocean underwater gliderNewport has long been a fishing port, but an increasing share of the central coast’s economy is driven by research and education. At its core is Oregon State’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, with an annual budget of nearly $40 million and about 300 state, federal and university employees. The HMSC Visitors Center also brings in 180,000 visitors annually.

This infrastructure is a major reason why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration moved its Pacific fleet operations last year from Washington to Newport, bringing an estimated $40 million annually to the local economy. OSU is also leading the Ocean Observatories Initiative, a $386 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will deploy moorings, buoys and gliders off Newport, creating local jobs as well as 17 staff scientist positions in Corvallis.

Wood products innovations 

Kaichang Li There’s much more to the state’s wood products industry than raw timber — including millions in engineered wood products. Two Oregon State innovations — nontoxic adhesives and densified poplar — are in the process of commercialization.

Oregon State researcher Kaichang Li and his colleagues have developed adhesives that offer alternatives to petroleum-based glues for plywood and particle board manufacturers as well as for the commercial label industry. OSU has patented and licensed their discoveries for commercial development.

Fred Kamke, an expert in adhesives and wood composites, has developed a process to combine fast-growing hybrid poplar with other materials to produce a high- strength composite that could be used in construction, furniture and other products. Kamke has partnered with Corvallis Tool Company and Oregon BEST, one of the state’s signature research centers, to develop the technology.

Major impacts in agriculture 

Richard HiltonAs Oregon’s land grant university, OSU has always played a vital role in the state’s $4.3-billion agriculture industry, which includes nearly 39,000 farms and tens of thousands of jobs.

Research and outreach from College of Agricultural Sciences and Extension faculty, Experiment Stationscientists and students help Oregon farmers and ranchers solve problems, improve operations, increase yields and gain market share.

Examples include helping coastal cranberry growers protect against frost damage, working with ranchers to successfully market value-added beef and breeding herbicide-resistant, high-yield wheat varieties. Oregon State earned nearly $60 million in agricultural research funding in 2011, and these grants are often leveraged with industry partners and other external sources, sometimes by as much as two dollars for every dollar in research funding.

Access to education

Valley Library

Oregon State enrolled nearly 25,000 students last fall, with the state’s largest freshman class. Oregon State also consistently enrolls the most Oregon valedictorians, salutatorians and other high achievers.

To make higher education more accessible, the Campaign for OSU has raised more than $135 million for scholarships, and since 2008, the Bridge to Success Program has covered tuition and fees for 3,000 Oregon students each year. Oregon State is also the only university to have degree partnerships with all 17 Oregon community colleges, giving future transfer students a clear path to a bachelor’s degree.

New programs include a 3+3 partnership with Willamette University’s College of Law where students can complete their degrees in six years instead of seven. OSU-Cascades in Bend has seen double-digit enrollment growth for the past three years and has added degrees in energy engineering management and clinical mental health.


One Response to “Supporting Oregon’s Economy”

  1. Great article and inspiring story. We have a similar situation here on the border between Donegal (Republic of Ireland) and Derry (Northern Ireland). Many kids have dropped out of college early during the recent economic downturn and headed off overseas with little or nothing to show for their short college education.

    I think setting up something like this model would be a great success for when (if) our youngsters return from their travels. The way you guys have monetised the model is amazing and proves that a bit of foresight and a lot of determination can make a whole lot of difference in the local community.