college of agricultural sciences

Study: High stream temperatures, low flow creating extreme conditions

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A newly published study by researchers at Oregon State University and two federal agencies concludes that high temperatures coupled with lower flows in many Northwest streams is creating increasingly extreme conditions that could negatively affect fish and other organisms.

The study, published in the professional journal Hydrobiologia, was funded and coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey and the research branch of the U.S. Forest Service. It points to climate change as the primary reason for the extreme conditions.

“The highest temperatures for streams generally occur in August, while lowest flows take place in the early fall,” said Ivan Arismendi, a research professor in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. “Each period is important because it is a time of potentially high stress on the organisms that live in the stream. If they occur closer in time – or together – they could create double trouble that may be greater than their combined singular effects.”

Arismendi, who was lead author on the paper, said climate change appears to play a role as snowpack levels lessen and snow begins melting earlier in the spring. Peak stream flows are coming earlier in the year, stretching out the amount of time when river flows are low.

“What results is that low flows are moving closer and closer to the time of the year when stream temperatures are highest,” Arismendi said, “and that is not good.”

The study looked at 22 “minimally human-influenced” streams from the period of 1950 to 2010, located in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Montana and Idaho. The researchers found the hydrology of the streams was complex and differed among streams; while weather extremes affected all of the streams, the impact seems to be mediated by the influence of groundwater.

“Other studies have shown that high temperatures in streams lead to less oxygen and more thermal stress,” said co-author Jason Dunham, an aquatic ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “Low flows reduce the amount of suitable habitat and may lead to high density and overcrowding, more predation, changes in predator-prey relationships, and more competition – at least, among salmonids.”

This study focused on the physical processes on the streams, Arismendi emphasized, and needs to be followed by biological studies.

“Coupling of low flow with high temperatures can have significant hydrologic implications in maintaining stream water quality,” said Mohammad Safeeq, an OSU post-doctoral researcher in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and a co-author on the paper.

Arismendi said that over the years, weather and stream flow can be influenced by climate drivers like El Nino, La Nina, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and other phenomena. But over the 60-year time frame covered by the study, the climate warmed appreciably, leading to lower flows and earlier peak flows.

“These streams have high natural variability,” Arismendi said, “but the general pattern holds true.”

Interestingly, Arismendi said that stream temperatures are not always higher on an annual scale despite a regional trend that has shown warming air temperatures. This could be because of increased snowmelt, he pointed out, or complex hydrological cycles.

“Even though our studies are showing that stream processes are much more complex than initially thought we are able to identify trends toward increasing synchrony in timing of low flows and high temperatures,” Arismendi said.

Media Contact: 

Ivan Arismendi, 541-750-7443

OSU launches sale of Beaver Classic cheese

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is this week launching sales of a new artisan-style cheese produced in an on-campus creamery by students in the Department of Food Science & Technology.

Beaver Classic cheese is an alpine-style product, which Oregon State students make using milk from the university’s dairy herd, according to Lisbeth Goddik, an OSU Extension specialist who works with food entrepreneurs around the world on artisan cheeses.

“The cheese is in the tradition of alpine cheeses made in Switzerland, Italy and France,” Goddik said. “It has a subtle, nutty taste with creamy, buttery and caramelized flavors.”

The cheese can be ordered online at: http://oregonstate.edu/main/cheese

Goddik, Marc Bates and Bob McGorrin comprise a faculty management and production team that helped coordinate the launch of the student-made product. This is the university’s first venture into branded sales of student-made food products, said McGorrin, Jacobs-Root Professor and head of the Department of Food Science & Technology.

“This new venture will help provide opportunities for our students to obtain real-world educational experience that translates into future jobs in the industry creating dairy products,” McGorrin said. “Our students work in the creamery in all stages of the cheese’s production, from quality control to sales. They start from milk, take it through the curd process, and age the cheese for six months.”

“The tagline on the student-designed product label is ‘Savor Education,’ which reflects the ability to enjoy the end result of a successfully designed, produced and aged dairy product,” McGorrin added.

Bates is a new faculty member at OSU who is assisting with production start-up. He previously oversaw the student-run cheese manufacturing program at Washington State University.

In addition to online sales, Beaver Classic cheese will be available at OSU home football games.

Media Contact: 

Bob McGorrin, 541-737-8737

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Beaver Classic Cheese One


Beaver Classic Cheese Two

OSU demystifies how oat fungus kills plants

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University may have discovered why some grains are susceptible to a yield-reducing fungus.

They've mapped out the battle that takes place inside a cell when the fungus Cochliobolus victoriaeinfects Arabidopsis thaliana, a small plant in the mustard family that's used as a research model. They suspect that a similar process occurs in oats, barley, rice, beans and Brachypodium grasses because they are believed to share a similar gene.

Their findings, published today in the online version of the journal Science, could eventually help plant breeders develop varieties of grains and beans that resist certain diseases, said Tom Wolpert, an OSU plant pathologist and co-author of the paper, "Tricking the Guard: Exploiting Plant Defense for Disease Susceptibility."

Wolpert and others at OSU discovered that victorin, a toxin produced by the fungus, attacks Arabidopsis by binding to a protein called TRX-h5. This protein, however, has a guard watching over it called LOV1. When something tries to mess with the protein, the guard causes the cells to "commit suicide" in defense.

"The plant is doing what it thinks it should do and is turning on a defense," Wolpert said.

That strategy works for the plant when it's fighting fungi that need their hosts to be living cells in order to survive. Such fungi are called biotrophs and collect nutrients from the living cells. What the plant doesn't know, however, it that Cochliobolus victoriae is a type of fungus called a necrotroph that feeds on dead cells instead.

"The fungus is tricking the plant to kill its cells so it can eat them," said OSU plant pathologist Jennifer Lorang, the lead author of the study.

Cochliobolus victoriae causes a disease called Victoria blight, which in the 1940s severely reduced U.S. yields of oats that were descended from a variety named Victoria. The fungus damages leaves, kills seedlings, causes seeds to ripen prematurely, and weakens stems so that the plant falls over.

A gene called Vb in the Victoria-type oats made them susceptible to the fungus, but that same gene is believed to protect them from another fungus called crown rust. Cochliobolus victoriae is no longer a problem in oats because new varieties have been developed that don't have the Vb gene.

Last year, U.S. farmers produced $2.6 billion of rice, $827 million of dry, edible beans, $822 million of barley and $186 million of oats, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Media Contact: 

Tom Wolpert, 541-737-5293

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Jennifer Lorang and Tom Wolpert examine oats growing in a greenhouse at Oregon State University. The OSU plant pathologists have figured out how a fungus that infects oats tricks plant cells into committing suicide. Photo by Tiffany Woods.

OSU researcher receives top fisheries prize

CORVALLIS, Ore. – David Noakes, a professor of fisheries at Oregon State University, has been selected to receive the Award of Excellence from the American Fisheries Society. It is the top award given by this national organization.

Noakes is senior scientist at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center - a joint venture between OSU and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The center, located some 13 miles west of the town of Alsea on Hwy. 34, studies similarities and differences between native fish and hatchery-raised fish, focusing on salmon and steelhead.

Noakes was honored for his lifetime research and academic accomplishments. He is the fifth OSU scientist to have received the prestigious award; no other institution has had more than one recipient. Past recipients from OSU include Carl Bond, Peter Doudoroff, John Fryer and Carl Schreck.

The society also honored Hiram Li, an emeritus professor in the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, with the Emmeline Moore Prize for his career in mentoring and advancing minorities in fisheries.

Schreck received the International Congress of Fish Biology’s Award of Excellence for his contributions to fish physiology.


Media Contact: 

David Noakes, 541-737-1953

New facility expands research and teaching of animal sciences at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will dedicate a new teaching and research facility for animal sciences Oct. 19 to serve increased student enrollment in the field and to delve into new research.

With more than 500 undergraduates, enrollment in animal and rangeland sciences at OSU is at an all-time high and is nearly four times what it was in the 1990s, said John Killefer, the head of OSU's animal and rangeland sciences department.

"The new facility, built with contributions from generous donors, reflects a greater focus on student learning and opportunities for hands-on teaching with livestock in OSU's living laboratories," Killefer said.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the James E. Oldfield Animal Teaching Facility, located at the intersection of Southwest Campus Way and Southwest 35th Street, will start at 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

The facility is named for James Edmund Oldfield, an OSU animal nutrition scientist who discovered the role of selenium in eliminating white muscle disease, a degenerative disease of cardiac and skeletal muscles in sheep and other ruminants.

The teaching facility is one of several changes within the animal sciences department that began with its merger with rangeland ecology and management to form OSU's new department of animal and rangeland sciences. The merger is part of a long-range plan to focus OSU's animal sciences teaching and to address budget cuts to the Agricultural Experiment Station, said Larry Curtis, associate dean of OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Groundbreaking will begin this fall for three additional buildings associated with the Oldfield teaching facility, including facilities for metabolism research, agricultural education, and agricultural laboratories support technology, as well as space for the university's data center.

These new investments in student learning are being made as OSU's research farms are being restructured to address a 30 percent reduction in state support for agricultural research, Curtis said.

For example, OSU is upgrading its dairy center and pastures to focus research on dairy management using grass- and forage-fed Jerseys. It has sold its mature milking cows and curtailed milking during construction. Milking will resume in mid-2013.

Other changes include a reduction in the number of ewes at the OSU Sheep Center to better align with teaching and research needs. Activities at the OSU Horse Center will concentrate on the academic areas of equine science and management. Additionally, infrastructure improvements at OSU's beef research ranches will allow a greater opportunity for teaching and increased involvement from stakeholders.

"Reducing the number of animals in our research herds will save overhead costs without eliminating opportunities for teaching and research," Killefer said.

OSU continues to have the greatest variety of livestock research farms of any animal sciences department in the West, Curtis said.

New teaching facilities, restructured research facilities and new incoming faculty are part of the college's long-range planning that is being implemented to provide learning opportunities to students in animal and rangeland sciences, Killefer said.

To address growing enrollment and a new direction in research, the animal and rangeland sciences department is hiring six new tenure-track faculty in the areas of dairy production and management, range/riparian ecology, meat science and muscle biology, forage livestock production, reproductive physiology and the human–animal bond.

"As OSU celebrates the 150th anniversary of legislation that established land-grant institutions across the nation, new facilities and new faculty reinforce our dedication to the land-grant mission," Curtis said.

OSU is Oregon's only land-grant university, making it part of a national higher education system established during Abraham Lincoln's presidency.

Media Contact: 

John Killefer, 541-737-1891

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Oregon State University will dedicate a new teaching and research facility for animal sciences Oct. 19. The James E. Oldfield Animal Teaching Facility is at the intersection of Southwest Campus Way and Southwest 35th Street. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.

That’s no primate: It’s a fish!

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A seven million-year-old South American fossil from a species known as Arrhinolemur scalabrinii – which translates literally to “Scalabrini’s lemur without a nose” – has long been a curiosity because there is only one specimen in existence and it is unlike most other primates.

There is a reason for that, scientists have discovered. The lemur without a nose is actually a fish.

Classified as a mammal since it was first described in 1898, Arrhinolemur scalabrinii will at last take its rightful place among its piscatorial brethren following a detailed analysis by scientists from Argentina, Oregon State University and the Smithsonian Institution. Results of their analysis have just been published in the professional journal, Neotropical Ichthyology.

“The name given to the fossil back in 1898 should have given a clue that something was wrong,” said Brian Sidlauskas, a fisheries expert in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University and co-author of the study. “It isn’t unusual to see a species reassigned to a different genus, but you don’t often see one moved to an entirely different class.”

Here is the unusual tale of Arrhinolemur scalabrinii, or the lemur without a nose…

In 1898, a fossil collector named Pedro Scalabrini provided a small fossil encased in rock to Florentino Ameghino. In a cursory examination of the fossil, Ameghino assigned it to the primate family Lemuridae, and wrote of its differences compared to other mammals. He proposed that it be recognized in Arrhinolemuroidea – a new order of bizarre fossil mammals.

And thus the lone example of Arrhinolemur scalabrinii was on record. About a half-century later, a scientist named George Gaylord Simpson briefly reviewed the entry and proposed that the specimen was not actually a mammal, but an unidentified species of fish. In 1986, Alvaro Mones took the suggestion a step further and offered that Arrhinolemur scalabrinii could be related to Characidae, a family of freshwater tropical and subtropical fish.

Finally, two years ago Argentinian scientists Sergio Bogan of the Maimónides University, Natural History Foundation Félix de Azara, and Federico Agnolin, Argentinian Museum of Natural Sciences Bernadino Rivadavia, decided to put the issue to rest. They hooked up with Sidlauskas, who had written a monograph on South American fishes as part of his doctoral work at the University of Chicago, and Richard Vari, an ichthyologist at the Smithsonian. Together, they examined photos and drawings, and made a complete analysis – from the teeth and jaws to the parietal bones of the skull.

Their conclusion: The lemur without a nose is a fish of the genus Leporinus, family Anostomidae (Characiformes).

“It is the head of a small fish, only a couple of inches long, but it’s difficult to tell what it may have grown to,” Sidlauskas said. “Fish in that family can be two inches long or two feet long, and there are 150 to 200 species in the family – all indigenous to South America.”

So why does it matter that Arrhinolemur scalabrinii has found its rightful place among other fish?

“Clarifying the fossil record helps scientists to calibrate trees of life and better understand the biodiversity of the planet in the past and compare it to biodiversity today,” said Sidlauskas, who curates the Oregon State Ichthyology Collection.

“It also helps us analyze evolutionary transitions – we can look at in the past and compare them to similar fish today to see what features have changed over time and try to understand why.”

After 114 years, Arrhinolemur scalabrinii can at last take its rightful place among the fishes.

Media Contact: 

Brian Sidlauskas, 541-737-1939

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Lemur without a nose

OSU to study what goes on inside the cells of corn and rice

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has been named a partner on a $10 million grant that aims to further the understanding of the molecular interactions and genes in crops that include rice and corn.

Over the course of the next five years, OSU will receive about $2.9 million of the grant, which was awarded by the National Science Foundation.

OSU will develop an online database, called a plant reactome, with information about the molecular and genetic interactions in the cells of corn, rice and Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant that's used as a research model. It will also gather scientific literature on the three plants and add it to the database. The university will also study the role of growth hormones in the three plants.

Additionally, OSU researchers will seek to better understand the genes that regulate photosynthesis in the plants as well as the yields in corn and rice when they're stressed by mineral deficiencies, drought and salt.

Three plants were selected because their reference genomes have been sequenced completely and share many similar genes with major commercial crops, said Pankaj Jaiswal, a plant biologist who is overseeing OSU's part in the project. For example, rice and corn are related to wheat and barley. Likewise, Arabidopsis, a member of the mustard family, is similar to canola and sunflowers.

The database that OSU puts together will become part of a larger online database known as Gramene, which is accessible to anyone at http://www.gramene.org. The research portal contains genetic information about various crops such as foxtail millet, grapes, poplar trees, sorghum, soybeans and tomatoes.

As part of the $10 million grant, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and other collaborators will add more genetic information about these crops to the Gramene database. With annotated and curated data online in one place, Gramene's goal is to make it easier for plant breeders and other scientists to conduct their own research and gather support for their hypotheses.

As a community outreach component of the project, OSU will organize workshops and webinars to teach scientists and students how to use Gramene.

Jaiswal hopes that the research and sharing of knowledge will contribute toward the development of crops that yield more and resist diseases better. These improvements, he said, would ultimately benefit farmers and help feed the world's growing population.

Other partners in the grant include the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the European Bioinformatics Institute, and the American Society of Plant Biologists.

More information on the grant is at http://1.usa.gov/PGKq5i and http://bit.ly/Q7AWR0.

Media Contact: 

Pankaj Jaiswal, 541-737-8471

OSU finds Oregon's first honeybee infected by 'zombie' fly

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A researcher at Oregon State University has reported Oregon's first documented case of a "zombie" fly infecting a honeybee, but he doubts that the parasite at the moment poses a threat to the already beleaguered bee, which is a vital pollinator of some of the state's key crops.

Ramesh Sagili, a honeybee specialist with the OSU Extension Service, stumbled upon a belly-up bee on a sidewalk under a street light on campus in Corvallis one morning in late July. He placed it in a vial in his lab, and four days later seven maggots crawled out of the bee's neck. Almost three weeks after that, one matured into an Apocephalus borealis fly, commonly called a zombie fly because of the disoriented behavior it is suspected of causing the bees to exhibit at night.

The finding comes amid rising concern about the health of honeybees, which have been hit by a mysterious phenomenon called colony collapse disorder in which adult honeybees disappear from a hive, either entirely or in large numbers. It came to light in late 2006 when beekeepers on the East Coast began to see their honeybee colonies dwindle. The disorder has since spread to other states. A cause has not been determined, but suspects include mites, viruses, malnutrition, pesticides, a lack of genetic diversity, and stress that results from commercial hives being trucked around the country to pollinate crops.

Sagili doubts that the fly is playing a role in the widespread die-off of honeybees, which are crucial pollinators for various Oregon crops, including blueberries, pears, cherries, apples, clover, cranberries and vegetable seeds.

"It's a stretch to say the fly is correlated to colony collapse disorder," he said. "At this point, I don't think it's a threat. I don't think it's at the level where it can depopulate hives in large numbers."

Earlier this year in a journal article, researchers in California became the first to document that the fly attacks honeybees. They discovered the parasite in honeybees in California and South Dakota, the only states besides Oregon where fly-infected honeybees, or ZomBees, have been reported.

The fly is known to parasitize bumblebees but little is known about its impact on them in Oregon, said Sujaya Rao, an entomologist at OSU who studies them.

Sagili hypothesizes that the fly is just now being found in honeybees because it may be trying to branch out from its other hosts when they're not available. He added that although honeybees are widely studied, it's possible that scientists just never saw the parasite because they usually preserve their collected bees in alcohol, which would kill the larvae and keep them from popping out.

The brownish-red fly, which lays eggs inside the bees and is smaller than a fruit fly, is native to North America and has been found in Canada and various states that include Alaska, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico and New York, said Brian Brown, the curator of entomology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and an expert on the parasitic fly.

Brown said the fly has been in Oregon for thousands of years but has just never been found in a honeybee in the state until now. In 1993, he identified a fly from Oregon as being an Apocephalus borealis. He doesn't know, however, when it was actually found because it was part of a museum's collection he borrowed. In 1934, a collector found the fly just south of Oregon in Gasquet, Calif., near Crescent City.

Oregon was home to 56,200 commercial honeybee hives last year, according to a report from the OSU Extension Service. About two dozen beekeepers owned 90 percent of them, Sagili said. Every year, Sagili and retired entomologist Dewey Caron survey the state's commercial beekeepers to find out how their hives are faring. Between October 2010 and April 2011, they lost 17 percent of their combined hives versus the same period a year earlier, Sagili said. In 2009-10, they lost about 25 percent, he said.

To find out if the parasitic fly is playing a role in the losses, Sagili has placed traps by hives at two locations on campus and is encouraging commercial and hobby beekeepers to do the same near their colonies. Instructions on making traps can be found at www.zombeewatch.org/tutorial.

People who don't raise bees can also become ZomBee hunters just by collecting dead or dying honeybees they might find under porch or street lights. Sagili recommends placing the bees in a jar with multiple layers of cheesecloth secured over the top with a rubber band to let in air. Collectors should watch for the possible emergence of maggots. If they do find the parasite in the bees, Sagili encourages them to email him at sagilir@hort.oregonstate.edu. They can also submit their findings to www.ZomBeeWatch.org so the fly's whereabouts can be posted on an online map.

Media Contact: 

Ramesh Sagili, 541-737-5460

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This is the parasitic "zombie" fly that developed from a maggot that crawled out of the dead honeybee that professor Ramesh Sagili found on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis. Photo by Oregon State Arthropod Collection. Corvallis, OR; Specimen#0000445045, some rights reserved.



A honeybee collects pollen on a blackberry blossom. Honeybees are crucial pollinators for various Oregon crops, including blueberries, pears, cherries, apples, clover, cranberries and vegetable seeds. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.

Don't let fungi sour your grapes

CORVALLIS, Ore. – After carefully nurturing homegrown grape vines, don't let fungi sour your grapes.

So be on the lookout for powdery mildew and bunch rot during the summer, advises Ross Penhallegon, a horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Powdery mildew attacks all parts of the vine, leaves, stems and fruit. It's usually worse on vines in areas where air circulation is poor or in places that remain damp during the early warm part of the day. Water on the foliage may also cause mildew.

In its early stages, powdery mildew appears as whitish or grayish patches on the leaves. Affected fruit may also appear gray or white at first. Later, the skin of the grapes becomes brown and roughly mottled. Infected fruit may shrivel, fail to mature and, often around the first of September, crack.

To control powdery mildew, Penhallegon recommends pruning the grape plant to allow air to circulate and sunlight to penetrate through the vine. Then, using a sprayer, apply wettable sulfur to the vine and leaves. Several sprays – both conventional and organic – will work. Follow directions on the label. Spray all foliage and fruit, covering tops and bottoms of all plants. Apply once a week until the fruit begins to change color.

Bunch rot (Botrytis) will sometimes show up when it rains at harvest time or when fruit is hit with overhead sprinklers. Symptoms include rotted fruit with tufts of gray fungi growing on the surface of the grapes. For control, gardeners can use captan fungicide, Stylet-Oil or products containing copper. It also helps to cut out badly infected bunches of grapes and to prune to provide better air ventilation through the vines.

The Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Management Handbook offers more information on powdery mildew in grapes at http://bit.ly/O2Txy7 and on Botrytis at http://bit.ly/PDlnOy.

To learn more about growing table grapes, check out the following publication from the OSU Extension Service at http://bit.ly/PDmQVk.

Media Contact: 

Ross Penhallegon, 541-344-1709

OSU honors 28 Master Gardeners for their volunteer work

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon's Master Gardener program has given two Douglas County residents its highest statewide awards this year in recognition of their volunteer work.

Additionally, program leaders handed out county-level awards to 26 individuals for their service to their communities and the program.

The annual awards are sponsored by the Oregon State University Extension Service's Master Gardener program and the Oregon Master Gardener Association, a nonprofit that supports the program.

The Master Gardener program offers courses on home horticulture in 30 of Oregon's 36 counties as well as online. Graduates, known as Master Gardeners, are then expected to share their new knowledge with others by volunteering to answer questions or teach at Extension offices, farmers markets, workshops and community gardens.

Last year, the more than 4,000 active Master Gardeners in Oregon had 204,000 interactions with the public, said Gail Langellotto, who heads the program. Their 181,000 hours of volunteer service were the equivalent of 87 full-time staff, she added. Master Gardeners also gave food banks more than 10,000 pounds of fresh produce harvested from community and demonstration gardens that they manage, she said.

Below are the recipients of this year's awards:

Larry Sutton from Umpqua is the 2012 Oregon Master Gardener of the Year. Sutton has been a Master Gardener for eight years and has worked on nearly every project or program offered by the Master Gardeners in Douglas County. His contributions include working in Douglas County’s Discovery Garden and Horticultural Learning Center, presenting classes, serving on his local and state Master Gardener boards of directors, and creating a mentoring program for new Master Gardeners.

Leo Grass of Roseburg received the Behind the Scenes statewide award for quiet and unselfish volunteer work that supports the Master Gardener program and his community. Grass has amassed more than 2,000 hours of volunteer service during 11 years. He has answered gardening questions in the Master Gardener help center in Douglas County nearly every week for nine consecutive years. While working in the center, Grass recognized the importance of soil testing for people who want to garden effectively and sustainably. Because most individuals did not want to pay $40 for a soil test at a commercial lab, he developed a testing lab at the Extension office in Douglas County. With the new lab in place, Master Gardeners are now able to provide people with accurate information about their soil pH and nutrient needs for only $15. Each year, he trains new Master Gardeners to help in the soil lab, and teaches each new class how to interpret the results of a soil test.

The county-level Master Gardeners of the Year are:

Baker County: Mindy Sherrieb is the backbone behind the Master Gardener trainings in Baker City. She communicates with instructors, helps set up the room, advertises events in the local community and encourages those in attendance to volunteer their time as a Master Gardener. 

Benton County: Steve Naberhuis of Corvallis has been a Master Gardener for five years, during which he has volunteered more than 1,000 hours. He helps prepare new Master Gardeners to answer the public’s gardening questions and helps prepare the Insights into Gardening seminar and Gearing Up for Gardening lectures. He has been treasurer and secretary to the Benton County Master Gardener Association.

Central Gorge (Hood River County): Eric and Shari Bosler of White Salmon have been Master Gardeners for four years and seven years, respectively. Eric was president of the Central Gorge Master Gardener Association; Shari has been Hood River County’s representative to the Oregon Master Gardener Association. Together, they have co-chaired the Central Gorge Garden Tour, mentored new Master Gardeners and answered the public’s gardening questions in the local help center.

Central Oregon (Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties): Toni Stephan of Redmond has been a Master Gardener for 15 years. Stephan has been a tireless and conscientious educator in her community, giving talks to schools, garden clubs and community groups. Before the annual Weed Pull at Eagle Crest Resort, she gives talks on weed identification and management. She initiated the Growing Kids program at the Boys & Girls Club of Redmond, the Tumalo Community School and the Kansas Avenue Learning Garden, where she helped to develop and deliver a curriculum that teaches kids to create a vegetable garden and to give back to the community by sharing their harvest with the local food bank.

Clackamas County: Paul Miken of West Linn has been a Master Gardener for 29 years. He helped develop the Master Gardener program in Clackamas County in the 1980s and was instrumental in starting an endowed scholarship program at Clackamas Community College. Since its inception, this Master Gardener-sponsored endowment has helped send 30 students to school. As chair of the hospitality committee, Miken helps to welcome new Master Gardeners to the program. He has also served as treasurer of the Clackamas County Master Gardener Association and representative to the Oregon Master Gardener Association.

Clatsop County: Debbie Haugsten of Ocean Park has been a Master Gardener for four years. In 2011, she volunteered for 246 hours and donated more than 300 plants to support her local Master Gardener association. She has co-chaired the Spring into Gardening seminar and the Master Gardeners' local plant sale. She coordinates the statewide event in which Master Gardener groups from around the state develop and present displays that share the story of their programs.

Columbia County: Andy Thayer of Rainer has been a Master Gardener for three years. A talented carpenter, he has devoted his time and talents to improving the Master Gardeners' demonstration gardens in the county. 

Coos County: Sandra Stafford of Coquille has been a Master Gardener for two years. She has served as editor of the local Master Gardener newsletter, taught a class at the Fertilize Your Mind seminar, and created a website for the Coquille Community Garden. She also helps teach new Master Gardeners how to use computers more effectively to answer the public’s gardening questions. 

Curry County: John Caldwell of Gold Beach has been a Master Gardener since 2009. A science teacher by trade, Caldwell teaches new Master Gardeners as well as students at Kalmiopsis and Riley Creek elementary schools. He was instrumental in developing Little Bear Patch Garden at Kalmiopsis Elementary, where he secured the fencing, helped build raised beds and put in the drip irrigation system. During the school year, he conducts garden-based science projects with the children to help grow a future crop of gardeners. He has also supported the Coastal Garden and Art Tour by opening his own garden on the tour and helping others prepare their gardens for the tour.

Douglas County: Mik Carlson of Roseburg has been a Master Gardener for seven years. She has given more than 1,300 hours of service to her community and Master Gardener program. For the past two years, she has co-chaired the Victory Garden, which grows produce for the Umpqua Community Action Network food bank distribution center. Last year, the garden produced 2,733 pounds of food. Carlson added another 506 pounds by collecting donations from local Master Gardeners. She worked with the food bank's manager, Tom Kelley, to grow what was most needed.

Jackson County: Jane Moyer has been a Master Gardener for eight years. She chaired the greenhouse program for more than a year and combined the greenhouse practicum with the Gramma’s Garden practicum to create a more efficient and effective training experience for Jackson County’s Master Gardeners. She coordinates the local Master Gardener evening and weekend classes, and she has chaired the Winter Dreams, Summer Garden seminar. She practiced a 100-mile diet for one year and wrote about her experience in the newsletter for Jackson County's Master Gardeners.

Josephine County: Lilly Pattee of Grants Pass has been a Master Gardener for three years. A retired sixth-grade teacher, Pattee was instrumental in starting a K-12 outreach program that used hands-on experiences in the garden to teach children about basic science concepts and their local food system. She and her Master Gardener colleagues developed curricula, provided instruction and made connections with local schools. Today, Pattee and her team teach garden-based lessons in 14 schools.

Klamath County: Mala Quatman of Klamath Falls has been a Master Gardener for two years. She is co-manager of the Klamath Falls Community Garden where she shares her strong organizational skills and enthusiasm for creating a network of garden-loving Master Gardener volunteers and community garden participants. She has served as president of the Klamath County Master Gardener Association and has mentored Master Gardeners in the 2012 training class.

Lane County: Cindy Wise of Springfield has been a Master Gardener for 16 years. She helped start the adaptive gardening committee to teach those with physical injuries or disabilities how small modifications can make gardening easier. As chair of the Lane County Master Gardener Compost Committee, she instigated classroom presentations to teach children about compost and worms and organized monthly composting demonstrations at community gardens. She also organized a coffee ground pick up that annually diverts more than 50,000 pounds of coffee grounds from landfills to local gardens. She similarly organized vegetable waste pick-ups at local markets. 

Lincoln County: Cathi Block of South Beach has been a Master Gardener for four years. She has served as coordinator for the Master Gardener demonstration garden at Oregon Coast Community College in South Beach. Although the garden began as a bare and weedy field, it now hosts numerous raised beds, a greenhouse and many demonstration projects that teach gardeners on the central Coast about plant varieties and gardening practices that stand up to salt spray, steady winds and cloudy days.

Linn County: Betty Goergen of Lebanon has been a Master Gardener for six years. In addition to working full time at Nichol’s Nursery, she owns and runs an organic berry and seed farm. She has served as vice president of the Linn County Master Gardener Association and has organized the annual Master Gardener tour in the county.

Marion County: Tobie Habeck of Woodburn has been a Master Gardener for five years. She organizes the monthly Master Gardener meetings in Marion County and has brought in popular speakers. As a result of her leadership, attendance has increased from about half a dozen people per meeting to around 30 and even reached 56 on one occasion. Habeck has managed the deer-resistive plot at the Marion Garden for four years and has managed the lily garden for three years. She also helped to design and plant the annual plot at the demonstration garden in Salem.

Multnomah County: Beven Peters and Marcia McIntyre have been Master Gardeners for 12 and six years, respectively. This past year, they helped to coordinate the efforts of more than 100 volunteers in association with the group’s Incredible Edibles plant sale.

Polk County: Dolores May of Dallas has been a Master Gardener for 11 years. She was an initiating force behind the Fall Fling Gardening Workshop and regularly writes articles for the Master Gardener newsletter in Polk County. She fields gardening questions from the general public at the plant clinic desk in the OSU Extension office and is a mentor to new and veteran Master Gardeners. Last year, she volunteered more than 800 hours to the Master Gardener program.

Tillamook County: Laura Owens of Rockaway Beach has been a Master Gardener for four years. She has served as vice president and president of the Tillamook County Master Gardener Association. She has been the co-chair for the garden tour and for outreach activities at the Tillamook farmers market.

Umatilla County: Bill Dochnahl of Pendleton completed his Master Gardener training in 2012.  His impact was immediate. He worked with the Umatilla County Courthouse to redesign their landscape as a demonstration garden. In addition to regularly answering the public’s gardening question out of the local Extension office, he wrote a regular gardening column for the East Oregonian newspaper and the county employee newsletter.

Wasco County: Sheri Esquivias of The Dalles has been a Master Gardener since 2008. From the very beginning, she took a leadership role in helping the Master Gardeners in Wasco County establish a youth program with the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility. The facility initially asked the Master Gardeners to help them learn how to grow plants in a new greenhouse there. Esquivias saw an opportunity to also provide Master Gardener mentors for the youth who were incarcerated there.

Washington County: Tim Lanfri of Beaverton has been a Master Gardener for five years. A lifelong food gardener and an avid fisherman, he grows vegetables all winter without a greenhouse. He founded the Community Garden Creators, a nonprofit that helps local landowners create and sustain community gardens.

Yamhill County: Linda Coakley of Newberg has been a Master Gardener for five years. She has mentored new Master Gardeners as well as students at Newberg High School. She has also worked on beautification projects throughout Newberg.


Gail Langellotto, 541-737-5175