AURORA, Ore. – Oregon State University's North Willamette Research and Extension Center is inviting the public to participate in planning for the future of the center in a forum on June 3, from 4 to 8 pm at the Al Kader Shrine Center, 25100 S.W. Parkway Avenue in Wilsonville.
The planning summit will focus on the perspectives that emerged from a series of 19 focus groups designed to identify the opportunities and challenges facing the center. Those conversations will help ensure the center's relevance and utility for not just the agricultural industry, but for all Willamette Valley residents, said Clark Seavert, NWREC director and a professor of agriculture economics in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.
There are more than 170 different crops grown or raised in the Willamette Valley. Ranging from grass seed to Christmas trees, blueberries to poultry, it is one of the most diverse agricultural regions on earth. The OSU center sits at the valley's heart and has long been a resource for the agriculture industry. In the future, however, Seavert said the center plans to further its involvement with urban agriculture and education.
"The valley is changing and will continue to change," he said. "We’re planning for this change. Our relevancy is hinged to our ability to meet the needs of the communities we serve, and to do that we'll be expanding the depth and breadth of our services, and our funding sources."
The center will continue to grow and maintain existing relationships in the valley, Seavert said, and will also further its reach in the Portland metropolitan area by developing additional agriculture education and services targeted at an urban audience.
"OSU Extension Service and the College of Agricultural Sciences are already active in the area, but further work to educate the urban population about commercial agriculture is imperative for food security and the local economy," said Seavert.
"People need to know where their food comes from," said Seavert, noting the NWREC is a prime location for a new agriculture-learning center. "Some of our region's future farmers may be in urban schools where they're just waiting to be introduced to agriculture. At the center we can supplement public education by inviting audiences to come to us for real experiences."
The summit titled, “Developing Our Plan Together,” will feature updates on OSU Extension Service and agriculture projects from Bill Boggess, the executive associate dean for the College of Agricultural Sciences, and from Scott Reed, vice provost for University Outreach and Engagement. Invited guest speaker Mick Mortlock will talk about, "The Future of Agriculture and Food in the Next Quarter Century."
For more information, visit the NWREC website at www.oregonstate.edu/dept/NWREC.