college of agricultural sciences

OSU names Dan Arp as dean of Agricultural Sciences

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Dan Arp, a longtime microbiology researcher and science educator who has led the University Honors College program at Oregon State University since May of 2008, has been appointed as the Reub Long Dean of Agricultural Sciences and director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station at OSU.

Arp will assume the responsibilities of former dean Sonny Ramaswamy, who last month was named by President Obama to lead the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington, D.C. Arp’s initial appointment is expected to last for two years.

Arp’s studies have focused on agriculturally and environmentally relevant microorganisms, nitrification, the biology of bacteria and bioremediation. He is one of a handful of OSU faculty members to carry the prestigious title “distinguished professor,” and he is an affiliate of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing on campus.

Before taking on the role of dean in the University Honors College, Arp was named the L.L Stewart Professor of Gene Research in 2002, and two years later became chair of the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Arp began his career at the University of Erlangen in West Germany, where he was research director and a NATO postdoctoral fellow. He also has been on the biochemistry faculty at the University of California-Riverside.

“President Ray and I are delighted that Dr. Arp has agreed to lead the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station,” said Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president. “Dan is well-known for his strong leadership, administrative ability and academic credibility. He will approach his new role with a combination of collaboration and innovation, looking to position the college as a transformative agriculture and natural resources enterprise for the future.

“Dan will work with faculty and stakeholders to ensure that the college continues to have a strong and positive impact on scientific research and outreach to agricultural industry in Oregon and beyond,” Randhawa added.

The College of Agricultural Sciences is Oregon’s principal source of knowledge relating to agricultural and food systems, and a major source of knowledge regarding environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences, and rural economies and communities worldwide. Agricultural programs at OSU represent an $85 million enterprise. The college includes 15 academic departments, an Agricultural Experiment Station with 11 branch stations around the state, and more than 1,600 students who pursue bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees.

The college’s research programs create knowledge to solve problems and to build a base for the future. It is a source of information and expertise in integrating and applying knowledge with benefits that are felt in domestic and international settings.

Randhawa noted that OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences has a long and rich history. As the state’s Land Grant university, Oregon State was created to serve the needs of the people. Beginning in 1870 as Corvallis College, agricultural and natural resources programs were offered and have been a vital component ever since.

Media Contact: 

Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-2111

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Dan Arp
Dan Arp

OSU annual Earth Day Hoo Haa is April 22 near Corvallis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The public is invited to enjoy free food and live music at the 10th annual Earth Day Hoo Haa Sunday, April 22, from noon to 5 p.m. just east of Corvallis. The theme for this year's event is "Sunday Skool - Hoo Haa!"

The festivities, sponsored by Oregon State University's Organic Growers Club, will be on the grounds of the student-run organic farm on the outskirts of Corvallis. Attendees are welcome to bring a turning fork to help till the ground and plant beets, greens, lettuce and 10,000 onions.

Participants can tour the two-acre farm, view displays from local organizations and student groups, watch a bubble artist, learn about soil and see how chickens in mobile coops are used to till the earth. Face painting will be available for children of all ages.

A variety of local musical talent will be showcased, as well as readings by nationally renowned poet Michelle Anderson.

For dinner, vegetarian chili made largely from the club’s own produce will be served. People are encouraged to bring their own bowl and silverware.

Organizers also ask visitors to leave their dogs at home.

Starting at noon, free shuttle vans to the farm will depart from the OSU Beaver Store (formerly OSU Book Store) approximately every 15 minutes. It will stop along the way at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture, where other Earth-friendly activities will be featured.

To drive to the farm, take Highway 34 east after crossing the Willamette River, then turn left onto Electric Road just past the Trysting Tree Golf Club. Head north and turn right at the Peach Place, continue and turn right at the end of the road (south). Look for the circus tent on your left.

For more information, go to the OSU Organic Growers Club website or Facebook site.


James Cassidy, 541-737-6810

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Attendees of the 2009 Earth Day Hoo Haa transplant onions at Oregon State University's student-run organic farm. (Photo by Tiffany Woods.)

OSU network for minorities wins regional and national awards

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University student chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) has won the Region VI Outstanding Chapter Award for the seventh time and was one of the top three chapters in the country to continue in the competition.

The national second place award for Chapter of the Year was presented to the OSU chapter at the annual career fair and training conference in Atlanta, Ga.

In addition, three students received national research awards. Sarah Wright took third place in oral undergraduate research, Tiffany Harper took second place in oral undergraduate research, and Vananh Nguyen took second place oral graduate research.

Tiffany Harper was elected undergraduate vice president for Region VI.

"The national MANRRS mission is to promote academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences,” said Wanda Crannell, the group's adviser. Membership is open to all students at all levels from high school to graduate school and who come from a variety of colleges and departments, although more than half are from the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Many students rate high academically but being in good standing is all that's required," Crannell said "A sense of belonging and working together on shared activities is important for the vast majority who are the first in their family to pursue higher education." Each student is mentored by upper classmen, professionals from industry or faculty members from OSU or the 70 college chapters across the country.

"The OSU MANRRS chapter is the most diverse and actively engaged in professional development, leadership and community service projects in the nation," Crannell said.

"We provide mentoring and networking opportunities, connect students to available resources, conduct workshops for professional development to help students define and achieve their goals, provide community service opportunities to promote active citizenship, and support the College of Agricultural Sciences in meeting its diversity related goals.”


Wanda Crannell, 541-737-2999

USGS/OSU study: Invasive barred owls interfere with spotted owls

CORVALLIS, Ore. – High densities of invasive barred owls appear to be outcompeting the threatened northern spotted owl for critical resources such as space, habitat, and food, according to a study released today by Oregon State University.

The three-year study – conducted in western Oregon through a research partnership including the U.S. Geological Survey and OSU – also confirms that barred owls not only use similar forest types and prey species as spotted owls, but also that a high density of barred owls can reduce the amount of those resources available to spotted owls. 

"Interactions between invasive and native species can be multifaceted and complex, with the stakes being even higher when the native species is already threatened with extinction," explained USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "Careful scientific observation and analysis can tease out the critical areas of conflict or competition, the first step in finding solutions." 

The northern spotted owl was designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. In recent years, the barred owl has expanded its range from eastern into western North America, where its geographic range now overlaps the entire range of the northern spotted owl. 

Barred owls also have become more common than spotted owls in the forest of western Oregon, according to David Wiens, the USGS author of the study, who conducted the research as part of his doctoral studies at OSU. Within the study area at least 82 pairs of barred owls were identified but only 15 pairs of spotted owls.  The probability that spotted owls survived from one year to the next was 81 percent compared to 92 percent for barred owls, and barred owls produced more than six times as many young as spotted owls.

The value of old forest habitat for spotted owls was further demonstrated by the study.  Both species frequently used patches of old conifer forest or stands of hardwood trees along streams while hunting for food and roosting, and both species survived better when there were greater amounts of old conifer forest within their territories. 

The study occurred in the central Coast Range of western Oregon where barred owl populations have steadily increased over the past two decades. Of all of the owls identified in the study area, Wiens captured a sample group and outfitted 29 spotted owls and 28 barred owls with radio transmitters. He monitored the interactions among the radio-marked owls and how the two species used resources.

The forested area where the study occurred included 52 sites that were formerly occupied by pairs of spotted owls. 

"Despite two decades of dedicated management efforts, northern spotted owl populations have continued to decline throughout much of their range," said Eric Forsman, a U.S. Forest Service researcher who also participated in the study. "This study suggests that conservation of old forest habitat is still a critical need for spotted owls, so we will continue to work with our research and management partners to collect information and explore options for management." 

This information is the result of a research partnership led by the U.S. Geological Survey.  In addition to OSU, the partnership included other agencies of the U.S. Department of the Interior – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management – as well as the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, and Boise State University.

In February 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft Environmental Impact Statement that outlines options for experimental removal of barred owls from certain areas throughout the spotted owl's range to test the effect of such removal on spotted owl population trends. The agency is considering combinations of both lethal and non-lethal (capturing and relocating or placing in permanent captivity) methods for removing barred owls.

The full report, Competitive Interactions and Resource Partitioning between Northern Spotted Owls and Barred Owls in Western Oregon, is available as an Oregon State University doctoral dissertation.

Media Contact: 

David Wiens, 541-750-0961

Oregon posts record $5.2 billion in agricultural sales in 2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon's farmers, ranchers and fishing industry grossed a record $5.2 billion in 2011 – thanks to higher commodity prices, according to a report by the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Sales were up 19.1 percent from a revised $4.4 billion in 2010, the largest percentage increase since a 20.6 percent jump in 1979, said Bart Eleveld, the OSU Extension Service economist who compiled the report. It contains estimates for gross farmgate sales for 2011 and revised numbers for 2010 and 2009.

The last sales record was set in 2008 when sales were $4.9 billion. They plunged 15.1 percent in 2009, marking the biggest percentage drop in more than 30 years. Sales rebounded 5.8 percent in 2010.

"After two difficult years, Oregon agricultural sales have recovered from the impacts of the recession," said economist Bill Boggess, the executive associate dean of OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. "It was a much needed good year for the state’s farmers and ranchers, who play an increasingly vital role in Oregon’s economy and also keep food on our plates."

Of the 89 commodities identified in the report, 66 increased in sales compared with 2010.

Cattle was again the top commodity, with sales rising 12.8 percent to $799.8 million as droughts in Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas decreased the amount of grass for grazing and forced ranchers in those states to cut back their herds, said Chad Mueller, an OSU cattle expert in Union, Ore. Although U.S. inventories dropped, demand from consumers continued, so prices rose, he said.

Dairy products advanced from third place into the No. 2 slot at $523.9 million with a gain of 10.8 percent, fueled by rebounding milk prices, said Troy Downing, the dairy specialist with the OSU Extension Service.

Wheat moved from fourth place into third place with sales of $521.5 million, up 47.3 percent on a combination of increased acreage and yields, said OSU's wheat breeder, Bob Zemetra.

"It was an excellent year for wheat in terms of weather," Zemetra said. "It was also an excellent year for stripe rust disease, but farmers who applied fungicides or used varieties resistant to it had good crops. Yields were probably 30-40 percent higher than normal in parts of eastern Oregon."

Nursery crops moved down two notches to fourth place, but still managed to eke out a slight 0.7 percent increase to $516.4 million. Continued weakness in new home sales curbed the demand for landscaping, said economist Robin Cross, an OSU research associate who tracks the nursery industry.

Alfalfa hay again finished fifth with a 54.9 percent jump to $272.2 million thanks to higher prices for it, said Mylen Bohle, an agronomist with the OSU Extension Service in central Oregon. He added that with stronger milk prices, dairies were able to afford better quality – and thus more expensive – alfalfa hay.

For the first time, the report included commercial fishing sales, which were $91.5 million and were No. 13 on the list. If they hadn't been included, total sales would have increased 17 percent instead of the 19.1 percent but still would have set a record.

Marion County again led the state, reporting the most sales at $616.9 million, up from $568.2 million in the previous year.

Harvested land statewide totaled 3,184,326 acres in 2011 compared with 3,141,071 acres a year earlier. Of the 2011 total, grains accounted for 1,096,529 acres and hays and forage made up 1,025,764 acres.

The report, "2011 Oregon County and State Agricultural Estimates," is funded by the OSU Extension Service and is online at http://bit.ly/OSU_SR790-11.

The publication and many more estimates, including detailed historical and countywide data from 1976 onward, also are online via the Oregon Agricultural Information Network at http://oain.oregonstate.edu.

To compile the data, each year more than 70 OSU faculty members across the state estimate production based on observations and conversations with producers and others in agricultural businesses.

Media Contact: 

Bart Eleveld, 541-737-1409

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Oregon cattle

A cow from Oregon State University's Harvey Ranch is herded outside Paisley, Ore. Oregon's ranchers sold $799.8 million of cattle in 2011, up 12.8 percent from the prior year, according to new report by the OSU Extension Service. Cattle was again the top agricultural commodity in terms of farmgate sales. (Photo by Aimee Brown)

Oregon dairy cows
Cows walk through a field at the Double J Jerseys organic dairy farm near Monmouth, Ore. Gross sales of Oregon dairy products increased 10.8 percent to $523.9 million in 2011 compared with the prior year, according to a new report by the Oregon State University Extension Service. Diary products were the second most important agricultural commodity in terms of farmgate sales in 2011. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)

Economists say that high gas prices triggered the housing crisis in 2007

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Oregon State University suggests that the U.S. housing crisis that started in 2007 and eventually led to a worldwide financial crisis was triggered by rapidly rising gas prices.

Economic bubbles have a long history – from the Dutch tulip mania in the 1600s to this latest housing bubble – and many factors can cause them to inflate, the researchers say.

But little is known about what actually triggers a bubble to burst.

"The key word is, 'triggered,'" said JunJie Wu, an OSU economist and one of the authors of the paper. "This theory recognizes the role of subprime mortgages and lax lending practices as inflating the housing bubble, but high gasoline prices provided the trigger that burst the bubble."

According to Wu and his fellow authors, Steven Sexton and David Zilberman, both economists from U.C. Berkeley, there is general agreement that the collapse of the housing market initiated the 2007 financial crisis. But there is no consensus on what prompted the housing market collapse.

In their study, the authors show how low gas prices during the housing boom, in combination with easy access to credit and new mortgage products, made suburban houses affordable to a new class of homeowners characterized by low incomes, high leverage, low credit worthiness and long work commutes.

"As a result," Wu said, "housing markets were vulnerable."

When oil prices more than doubled between late 2006 and 2008, sending gas prices to $4.15 per gallon, the calculus of suburban living changed, according to the researchers. High commute costs made suburban homes less valuable and mortgages less affordable for low-income homeowners. Some households could no longer meet mortgage obligations and others walked away from mortgage debt that exceeded the deflated market values of their homes.

"The real-estate mantra is 'location, location, location,'" Wu said. "If you find yourself in a location that is far from your work and transportation costs rise suddenly, that location can lower the value of your house."

The housing boom that began in the late 1990s, and the half-century of suburbanization that preceded it, produced a housing stock that by 2006 was particularly vulnerable to gas price shocks, according to the authors. Cheap and easy credit made owning a home possible for more households of limited means than at any other time in U.S. history.

Many suburban homes were located away from business centers and they tended to be in excess supply. Exurban areas grew twice as fast as metropolitan areas and as a consequence, commute durations grew. From 1970 to 2006, average vehicle miles traveled climbed 177 percent.

The researchers contend that a doubling of gas prices relative to historic averages made mortgage payments unaffordable for some, particularly for low-income households, and that mortgage default rates were higher in commuter towns.

The researchers considered only the impact of rising U.S. gasoline prices in this analysis, and they are quick to recognize many complex influences on the price of gas, including the global rise of the middle class and political unrest in oil-producing nations.

Does their research have implications for the current rise in gas prices?

"I expect that high gas prices will slow the economic recovery in general and the recovery of housing markets in particular," Wu said, "especially for communities tied to high transportation costs."

The paper, "How High Gas Prices Triggered the Housing Crisis: Theory and Empirical Evidence," was published in February 2012 by the University of California Center for Energy and Environmental Economics. View it at: http://www.uce3.berkeley.edu/WP_034.pdf.

Media Contact: 

JunJie Wu, 541-737-3060

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JunJie Wu is an economist at Oregon State University. (Photo by Tiffany Woods)

Oregon students receive state 4-H scholarships

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Sixteen high school students from across Oregon received state 4-H scholarship awards in March through the Oregon State University Extension Service 4-H Youth Development Program.

More than 80 Oregon 4-H members competed for the scholarships, which range from $500 to $4,500. They were evaluated on their high scholastic achievement, 4-H projects and achievements, and personal essay describing their growth in 4-H.

A group of 10 4-H agents and volunteers from counties across the state, led by Mary Arnold, 4-H specialist in research and program evaluation, selected the scholarship winners.

Recipients of the 2012 State 4-H Scholarship Awards are listed below:

 Colton: Heidi Axmaker, Klein-Youngberg Family, $1,250;

Corvallis: Joshua Edwards, CHS Foundation, $1,000; Meredith Truax, Hofer, $1,500;

Eagle Creek: Kayla Cochran, Theiss Memorial, $1,000;

Gold Beach: Denise Craig/Parry, A. Lois Redman, $500;

Grants Pass: Caleb Lennon, Dietz Memorial, $500;

Heppner: Rebecca Jepsen, Myers Memorial, $1,000;

Hillsboro: Matthew Ferguson, O.M. Plummer, $500;

Imbler: Emilee Patterson, Klein-Youngberg Family, $1,250;

Independence: Emma Miller, Oregon 4-H Foundation Memorial, $1,000;

Lake Oswego: Colleen Moore, Martha MacGregor, $4,500; Olivia Vollan, Ellwood Miller Memorial, $1,000;

Madras: Kristin Jasa, Duane Johnson, $500;

Medford: Nicholas Morales, Klein-Youngberg Family, $1,250;

Roseburg: Sarah Gordon, Leeson Memorial, $1,000;

The Dalles: Carly Lowe, Minnick Memorial, $1,000.

 More information about the OSU 4-H Youth Development Program is available at http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/


Helen Pease, 541-737-1314

Oregon Wine Research Institute director moves to research

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The director of Oregon State University's Oregon Wine Research Institute will step down this summer to return to full-time research and teaching at OSU.

Neil Shay joined OSU in 2010 as the first director of the Oregon Wine Research Institute and a professor of food science. His research focuses on how bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables play a role in modulating chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Internationally recognized for the impact and significance of his research in nutrition, Shay serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Nutrition, the world's highest-ranked journal for experimental nutrition research.

Shay will continue as director while the university searches for a successor. His return to research will be as a professor in OSU's Department of Food Science and Technology where he will maintain his laboratory program and teach in the department's undergraduate and graduate programs.

"I can understand Neil's desire to continue his outstanding research relating to phytochemicals and once again to be able to share his rich base of knowledge and experience with our students," said Sonny Ramaswamy, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. "We appreciate his service as the institute's first director. Given the alignment of much of his research interest with grapes and wine, I expect he will make important additional contributions as a member of the institute's scientific team."

The Oregon Wine Research Institute was established as a partnership among Oregon's robust wine industry, state government and OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. OSU's College of Business is a participant in the institute as well.

The institute builds partnerships that coordinate a wide range of research across the university and state that are specific to Oregon's wine and grape industry. Faculty in the institute communicate new research-based knowledge to grape growers and winemakers to help ensure that Oregon continues to produce top-quality wines.

As director, Shay led the hiring process for two new OSU faculty, one each in viticulture and enology. A comprehensive five-year strategic plan was developed for the institute and a pilot project grants program was initiated. Along with the Oregon Wine Board, the institute will co-sponsor the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture this June in Portland.

"The strategic vision for the institute developed under Neil's leadership will continue to guide its important collaborative research and its outreach to the industry," said David Adelsheim, one of the founders of Oregon's grape and wine industry who helped establish the Oregon Wine Research Institute. "We wish Neil well as he returns to the laboratory and classroom, where he has established a noteworthy record during his career."

Media Contact: 

Bill Boggess, 541-737-2331

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Oregon State University's Neil Shay examines vines at OSU's Woodhall Vineyard near Alpine, Ore. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

OSU to host gerontology conference April 11-12

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will host its 36th annual gerontology conference April 11-12, drawing geriatric experts from around the country who will present more than 40 educational workshops for health and human service professionals and the public.

Topics will include nutrition, dementia, diabetes, health care law, medications, hospice, Parkinson’s disease and alternative medicine.

Author and former social worker Wendy Lustbader will give the keynote speech at noon on the opening day. She teaches at the University of Washington and lectures nationally on chronic illness, aging and the needs of family caregivers. She co-authored "Taking Care of Aging Family Members" and wrote "Counting on Kindness: The Dilemmas of Dependency."

Albert Starr, a Portland surgeon who co-invented and implanted the world's first successful artificial heart valve, will be the keynote speaker at noon on the second day. Starr is a special adviser to the dean of medicine and the president at Oregon Health & Science University.

To register for the conference, go to www.osugero.org or call 541-737-9300. Attendees can also register at the door. Cost is $105 for one day and $195 for both days for those who sign up on or before April 5. The on-site registration fee is $130 for one day and $220 for two days. Discounts are offered for students, OSU employees and members of the OSU Retirement Association. Continuing education units are available for nurses, pharmacists, social workers, adult home care providers and nursing home and assisted living administrators.

The conference will take place at the CH2M HILL Alumni Center. The event is presented in part by the OSU Extension Service.

Media Contact: 

Sunita Vasdev, 541-737-2261

Two agriculture-inspired exhibits to feature Betty LaDuke this spring

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two agriculture-inspired exhibits will be on display this spring at Oregon State University.

Giclée prints of paintings by Ashland artist Betty LaDuke will be featured March 20 through May 3 in the OSU Memorial Union building concourse. In addition, the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences will sponsor its 30th annual Art About Agriculture exhibition, the invitational "Cultivating the Land for a Harvest of Art," in the Giustina Gallery of the OSU LaSells Stewart Center, April 2-27.

In connection with the Art About Agriculture exhibit, LaDuke will give a talk, "Celebrating Slow Food: Drawings, Paintings and Wood Panels from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oregon, USA." The talk runs from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on April 5 in the OSU LaSells Stewart Center Construction and Engineering Hall. It is sponsored in part by the Benton County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

LaDuke has studied people on several continents since 1972. Her detailed sketches are rendered while she interacts with communities and farmers in their tasks of planting, growing and harvesting crops, tending livestock and marketing products. Her work celebrates Heifer International, a global nonprofit that provides cattle and other livestock to families in developing nations.

The artist will meet with OSU students in the MU concourse April 5 from 9:15 to 10:45 a.m. for a gallery talk. In conjunction with the exhibit, Heifer International’s documentary, "Dreaming Cows: Betty LaDuke," will be continually aired April 2–5 on a LCD screen located across from the MU Lounge.

LaDuke and friend Maribeth Collins donated two paintings by LaDuke to the Art About Agriculture permanent collection. An inaugural public display at the LaSells Stewart Center will feature the paintings concurrently with the annual show.

A set of primitive, hand-made tools from Indonesia, Central America and other locations will be on display in the Construction and Engineering display case at LaSells. They were donated by Leslie Burrill, widow of the late Larry Burrill, who was a professor in the OSU crop and soil science department and collected the tools in his research and travels.

Artists invited to display their work in the 2012 Art About Agriculture show are:

 Athena: Amy Rogers

Corvallis: Elaine Greene

Pendleton: Hiroko Cannon, Shari Dallas

Portland: Mary Josephson

San Rafael, Calif.: Lara Mehling

Holualoa, Hawaii: Cliff Johns, John Mydock

Hayden, Idaho: Kyle Paliotto

Bellingham, Wash.: Susan Bennerstrom

Spokane, Wash.: Mary Farrell

Walla Walla, Wash.: Mare Blocker


Shelley Curtis, 541-737-5534