OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of agricultural sciences

OSU uses satellite images to detect underwater volcanic eruptions

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University scientists have discovered how to pinpoint the time and place of underwater volcanic eruptions using satellite images.

Volcanic eruptions on the ocean floor can spew large amounts of pumice and fine particles, as well as hot water that brings nutrients to the surface, resulting in plumes of algae. The plumes are picked up as shades of green in satellite images.

"Some volcanic eruptions take place hundreds of feet below water and show no changes to the sea surface to the naked eye," said Robert O'Malley, an OSU research assistant in botany and plant pathology in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. “It's amazing an orbiting satellite can detect color changes that indicate an eruption has taken place. Many times you can't spot an eruption if you were floating over it in a boat.”

Underwater volcanic eruptions are rarely detected, so little is known about them, according to Mike Behrenfeld, an OSU expert in marine algae and and one of the researchers on the project.

"Satellite measurements of the planet are made every day,” Behrenfeld said, “so this new method provides another tool for spotting these dramatic events that affect life in the oceans."

O'Malley and Behrenfeld developed a process for analyzing low-resolution images to show evidence of eruptions, which can extend over thousands of square miles, by matching five known eruptions with data from NASA satellites.

"We measured sunlight going into the ocean interacting with particles consistent with underwater volcanic eruptions," said O'Malley. “From there, we found we could connect color data with documented eruptions. Now we have a better idea of what to look for in the data when we don't know about the eruption first."

Next, the researchers plan to test how well their method works as eruptions are happening. Further study will also focus on the depth at which eruptions can be detected.

The research was funded by NASA's Ocean Biology and Geochemistry Program.

The study was published in the journal Remote Sensing of the Environment and can be found online at http://bit.ly/OSU_VolcanoStudy.

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Robert O'Malley, 541-737-2316;

Mike Behrenfeld, 541-737-5289

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Oldest trees are growing faster, storing more carbon as they age

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In a finding that overturns the conventional view that large old trees are unproductive, scientists have determined that for most species, the biggest trees increase their growth rates and sequester more carbon as they age.

In a letter published today in the journal Nature, an international research group reports that 97 percent of 403 tropical and temperate species grow more quickly the older they get. The study was led by Nate L. Stephenson of the U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center. Three Oregon State University researchers are co-authors: Mark Harmon and Rob Pabst of the College of Forestry and Duncan Thomas of the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The researchers reviewed records from studies on six continents. Their conclusions are based on repeated measurements of 673,046 individual trees, some going back more than 80 years.

This study would not have been possible, Harmon said, without long-term records of individual tree growth. “It was remarkable how we were able to examine this question on a global level, thanks to the sustained efforts of many programs and individuals.”

Extraordinary growth of some species, such as Australian mountain ash – also known as eucalyptus –  (Eucalyptus regnans), and the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), is not limited to a few species, the researchers said. “Rather, rapid growth in giant trees is the global norm and can exceed 600 kg (1,300 pounds) per year in the largest individuals,” they wrote.

“In human terms, it is as if our growth just keeps accelerating after adolescence, instead of slowing down,” said Stephenson. “By that measure, humans could weigh half a ton by middle age, and well over a ton at retirement.”

The report includes studies from the Pacific Northwest. Harmon and his colleagues worked in forest plots – some created as early as the 1930s – at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest east of Eugene and Mount Rainier National Park. Researchers measured growth in Douglas-fir, western hemlock, Sitka spruce, western red cedar and silver fir. The National Science Foundation and the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the USDA Forest Service provided funding.

Under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Tropical Forest Science, Thomas and colleagues in Africa established a 123-acre forest research site in Cameroon in 1996. They measured growth in about 495 tree species.

“CTFS does very important work facilitating collaboration between forest ecologists worldwide and therefore enabling us to gain a better insight into the growth of trees and forests,” Thomas said. “This model for collaboration was the basis of the Nature study.”

While the finding applies to individual trees, it may not hold true for stands of trees, the authors cautioned. As they age, some trees in a stand will die, resulting in fewer individuals in a given area over time.

The study was a collaboration of 38 scientists from research universities, government agencies and non-governmental organizations in the United States, Panama, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Colombia, Argentina, Thailand, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Spain.

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Mark Harmon, 541-737-8455; Duncan Thomas,  541-752-5211

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Photo by Duncan Thomas

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Hundreds of small farmers to gather at annual OSU conference

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Hundreds of farmers from throughout Oregon will gather in Corvallis this winter to improve their skills and get inspired for the next growing season. The 14th annual Oregon Small Farms Conference will take place Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Oregon State University.

Michael Ableman, a nationally known farmer, author and photographer, will present the keynote address. For the first time, organizers are offering a special series of workshops in Spanish for Latino farmers. In the past the conference has provided translators for particular workshops already offered in English. Also new is a workshop on profitability for small farms.

Registration costs $45 per person until Feb. 2, then increases to $65 per person from Feb. 3-14 and $100 per person on the day of the conference – if space is still available. Organizers will cap attendance at 800 people. In the past, the popular conference has surpassed 800 attendees, said Garry Stephenson, the coordinator of OSU's Small Farms Program, which organizes the event.

"I think there's a huge social aspect to the conference – for a lot of people, this is the only time of year they get to see each other, so there's a lot of interaction and networking," said Stephenson. "We also bring in speakers who challenge people to think differently and offer a variety of workshops."

This year, attendees can register for specific workshops. The conference features 24 workshops in three concurrent sessions, as well as a lunch prepared with locally produced food. Workshops include financing a farm, growing quinoa in the Northwest, selling produce to schools and hospitals, transitioning to organic agriculture and health insurance options for farmers.

The conference is geared toward farmers, agriculture professionals, food policy advocates, students and managers of farmers markets.

For more information and to register, go to http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfc.

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Garry Stephenson, 541-737-5833

Consumers like bread with less salt, says OSU taste test

PORTLAND, Ore. – Consumers can't tell the difference between regular bread and bread with 10 percent less salt, according to taste tests by Oregon State University.

Researchers at OSU's Food Innovation Center in Portland asked nearly 200 people to sample slices of whole wheat sandwich bread made with normal salt levels as well as ones with 10 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent less salt.

People tasted a difference in the 20 percent and 30 percent reductions but they still liked the appearance, texture, smell and taste the same as the normal bread, which was made with 104 milligrams of salt per slice.

They also said they would be willing to buy a loaf of any of the four samples.

"It's surprising that reducing sodium by nearly a third did not negatively affect how much consumers wanted to buy bread," said Ann Colonna, who manages the sensory science program at the center. "The results suggest consumers would not be able to detect small, incremental cuts to sodium in bread over time."

“Small reductions are also feasible to manufacturers,” Colonna added, “and wouldn't require much reformulation to existing recipes."

Sodium chloride, or salt, is often added to foods to enhance flavor. Bread is one of the largest contributors of sodium in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke – together the leading cause of death in Oregon and the United States, Colonna said.

OSU researchers aim to establish baselines that show the level at which U.S. consumers can detect less sodium in bread. The few existing studies on sodium reduction in bread are from overseas and cannot be applied to the United States because taste preferences vary by country, said Colonna, a food scientist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"The U.S. marketplace and consumers are unique, and food companies need detailed data to reference when potentially reducing sodium levels in the future," she said. "We're trying to get the ball rolling."

This fall, the results of the study were presented to Franz Bakery, also known as United States Bakery, the largest manufacturer of bread in Oregon.

A CDC grant awarded to the Oregon Department of Health Division funded the taste test.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rolled out new nutrition standards for school breakfast and lunch, and for the first time ever, there is a sodium limit. It will be difficult for schools to comply with new sodium requirements without procuring reduced-sodium bread, said Kim La Croix, a policy specialist for the Oregon Health Authority.

The Food Innovation Center is a branch of the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station and is a joint venture between OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

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Ann Colonna, 503-872-6677

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Ann Colonna, OSU researcher at the Food Innovation Center in Portland

Ann Colonna, of OSU's Food Innovation Center, conducted taste tests showing consumers like bread with less salt. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Food Innovation Center

OSU researchers at the Food Innovation Center in Portland help turn culinary innovations into commercial products with a wide range of services. (photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Online access to spotted wing drosophila genome could accelerate research

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University hopes to aid research on the fruit-damaging spotted wing drosophila by providing online access to the fly's newly sequenced genome.

OSU anticipates that scientists will use its new SpottedWingFlyBase website to develop ways to combat the invasive pest. Since its launch in November, spottedwingflybase.oregonstate.edu has been used by researchers in dozens of countries, said Vaughn Walton, an entomologist with the OSU Extension Service.

"Scientists from all over the world are interested in knowledge locked inside the fly's genetic material," he said. "Genes will help reveal the pest's behavior, pesticide resistance and other biological attributes that will point the direction for future research."

The fly's genome was sequenced by at the University of California at Davis by Joanna Chiu, David Begun and Frank Zalom. The sequencing is the subject of a paper in the December issue of the journal G3: Genes, Genomes and Genetics. OSU’s Walton is a co-author.

Oregon State's website allows researchers to compare the genetic differences between the spotted wing drosophila and closely related drosophila species.

In the process, scientists hope to pinpoint odors and tastes attractive to the fly, potentially leading to the creation of new pheromone-based baits to trap it. They will also try to match the biology of the fly with pesticides that will be more effective.

The genome may also eventually aid American fruit exports, especially to countries fearful of invasion from the pest. By finding genetic markers unique to the fly, scientists hope to craft a DNA test that quickly determines if larvae found in fruit ready for shipping are spotted wing drosophila.

Native to Asia, the fly was first detected in the United States in 2008 and has since spread across the continent. It lays eggs in ripe and ripening fruit, which its larvae eat, causing blemishes that ruin the fruit's value. Significant losses to fruit crops have been reported in the U.S., Canada and Europe, said Walton, who an assistant professor in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Horticulture.

OSU is leading a collaborative multi-state, multi-agency effort to study the fly through a $5.8 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.

The SpottedWingFlyBase website was co-developed by Chiu of UC Davis.

More information on the fly is available at www.spottedwing.org.

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Vaughn Walton, 541-737-3485

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Peter Shearer and spotted wing drosophila

OSU entomologist Peter Shearer holds a test tube of spotted wing drosophila larvae. With the fly's genome now mapped, researchers will be able to better understand its biology and develop new methods to control it. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Blueberry tree research could help growers branch out

AURORA, Ore. – An Oregon State University researcher aims to lower production costs for growers by creating a new kind of blueberry that develops as a tree instead of the traditional bush. 

Wei Qiang Yang, blueberry agent for the Oregon State University Extension Service, has tested a grafted blueberry "tree" that grows on a single stem on a research plot at OSU's North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora every year since 2009. Yang is collaborating with researchers who are testing other blueberry varieties grafted onto rootstocks at land-grant universities in California and Florida as part of a multi-state effort.

"The first rootstock that will come out of this research for commercial use will significantly change the way blueberries are currently produced and harvested," said Yang, a horticulture professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

The research could benefit an industry that's economically important to Oregon. The blueberry industry contributed $107.5 million in sales to Oregon's economy in 2012, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture and OSU Extension. Growers produced 72 million pounds of blueberries on nearly 8,000 acres.  

Growers use machine harvesters with catch plates to collect blueberries, but because blueberry bushes have multiple stems, the catch plate cannot fully encircle each stem of the bush. So growers must bear about a 15-25 percent loss in terms of the fruit that the catch plate misses, according to Yang. But cultivating a blueberry bush in a tree form would change that, he said.

"This work isn't just academically important, but it's valuable from a practical standpoint in that it will be very significant for improving machine harvesting efficiency and the adaptability of blueberry plants to different soil conditions," Yang said. "The wild-grown species is better-adapted to nutrient-poor and relatively high-pH soil. If we're successful, this is going to change the way we raise blueberries."  

To make the grafts, Yang started with seeds from a wild-growing blueberry plant commonly known as sparkleberry, which originated in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida. In the wild, some plants grow on a single stem to heights of up to 10 feet. But their tiny berries are full of seeds and the fruit has a bad taste, Yang said. He then grafted three popular highbush blueberry varieties – Liberty, Aurora and Draper – onto the wild-growing plants. He wanted a blueberry plant that had a similar yield to its domestic cousins and had a good taste.

So far, yields of the grafted plants have compared favorably to their domesticated cousins, with the exception of Liberty. A grafted Liberty plant yielded an average of approximately 1.03 pounds of fruit per single tree, compared to an average of 1.68 pounds per single bush on a domesticated Liberty plant. A grafted Draper plant yielded an average of approximately 0.60 pounds of fruit per single tree, while a domesticated Draper plant yields an average of 0.55 pounds per single bush. A grafted Aurora yielded an average of 1.07 pounds of fruit per single tree, while a domesticated Aurora yields an average of 0.88 pounds of fruit per single bush. Taste has also compared well.

Yang must still analyze results of data collected on fruit quality factors such as firmness, size and total acidity. This is the first year researchers were able to collect data on yield for the project in Oregon. Yang will investigate future yield projections and machine harvesting potential next. If results continue to show promise, the blueberry tree could be ready for release to nurseries in approximately five years for commercial use and about three years for gardeners.

Though some people have tried grafting blueberry trees on a small-scale basis in the past, Yang said this is the first major collaborative research effort to graft a blueberry tree that is viable for commercial growers.

Yang receives funding for the research from the Oregon Blueberry Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crops Research Initiative.

For more information, go to the website for OSU's NWREC at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/NWREC.

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Wei Qiang Yang, (503) 678-1264 ext. 126

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By growing blueberries on a single stem instead of on a bush with multiple branches, OSU researcher Wei Qiang Yang hopes to improve machine harvesting efficiency for growers. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

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Grafted blueberry trees are lined up in test plots at Oregon State University's North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, Oregon. Research to develop the plant could benefit an industry that contributed $107.5 million in sales to Oregon's economy in 2012, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and OSU Extension. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

OSU hotline offers answers to Thanksgiving food safety questions

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Did you know that turkey is done when an internal thermometer in the thigh registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit?

With Thanksgiving around the corner, receive answers to questions like these from the Oregon State University Extension Service's holiday food safety/preservation hotline at 1-800-354-7319. The free service is open for calls from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 18-22, and Nov. 25-26.

Typical questions range from how to make the perfect stuffing recipe to how long to thaw a frozen turkey to how to safely travel to the big family gathering with a cooked bird, said Nellie Oehler, a retired family community health educator with OSU Extension.

Master Food Preserver volunteers trained by OSU Extension staff the hotline and field an average of more than 200 questions every November, according to Oehler.

Additionally, OSU Extension has published two new fact sheets on turkey food safety at http://bit.ly/OSU_TurkeyFactSheet and http://bit.ly/OSU_TurkeyBasics. A fact sheet is also available in Spanish at http://bit.ly/OSU_PreparacióndelPavo.

For more information, see OSU Extension's website, Food Safety Resources, at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/food-safety. You can also submit food safety questions at any time to OSU Extension's Ask an Expert service at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/extension-ask-an-expert

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Nellie Oehler, 541-757-3937

OSU review details negative impact of pesticides and fertilizers on amphibians

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Common pesticides and fertilizers can damage both the development and survival of amphibians to varying degrees, according to a new analysis by Oregon State University.

The new meta-analysis marks the first attempt at a large-scale summary on the negative effects of specific chemical classes on amphibians, said Tiffany Garcia, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of wildlife science within OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Researchers reviewed more than 150 scientific studies detailing the impacts of pesticides and fertilizers on amphibians.

Around 30 percent of amphibian species are now extinct or endangered due to a range of factors, including habitat loss, disease, and exposure to contaminants, including pesticides and fertilizers, according to Garcia.

"Billions of tons of agrochemicals are used in farming every year," said Garcia, an expert in aquatic ecology. "Any disruption to frog, toad and salamander communities has clear negative impacts on biodiversity and can also set off a domino effect throughout the ecosystem by damaging the food base for amphibian predators, including birds, snakes and fish."

Amphibians are also valuable to the environment as grazers, herbivores and predators of pests, such as mosquitos, she added.

Four classes of common agrochemicals significantly reduce amphibian survival, the researchers say: chloropyridinyls; inorganic fertilizers; carbamates, which are common in insecticides; and triazines, used in herbicides. Two others both kill and inhibit animal growth: phosphonoglycines and organophosphates, standard ingredients in many pesticides.

Agrochemicals are most damaging to amphibians in the egg and larval stages, decreasing survivorship and making individuals more susceptible to predation and also hindering the production of offspring later in life. Amphibians are especially vulnerable to pesticides and fertilizers since they live on land and in water and can come into contact with agrochemicals by both direct exposure and runoff into aquatic systems.

To reduce the effects of pesticides and fertilizers on amphibians, timing is critical.

"Farmers can be, and often are, the best naturalists we have," Garcia said. "Mixing agricultural production with wildlife management is vital to the survival of amphibians, especially with agricultural intensity growing to feed our booming global human population."

"Spring, for example, is a time with heavy agricultural application, and it's also when amphibians lay eggs and develop as larvae and tadpoles,” she added. "By modifying application schedules, growers can limit contact between sensitive wildlife species and harmful chemicals."

Former OSU graduate student Nick Baker led the meta-analysis, with assistance from Garcia and Betsy Bancroft of Southern Utah University.

The study was published earlier this year in the journal Science of the Total Environment and was funded by the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at OSU, as well as a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Effects Assessment Project.

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Tiffany Garcia, 541-737-2164

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Tiffany Garcia, OSU researcher

The timing of agrochemical applications can help reduce negative effects to amphibians, according to OSU's Tiffany Garcia. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

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Bullfrogs and other amphibians are especially vulnerable to agrochemicals because they live in both water and on land at different life stages. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

OSU creates new center to support food systems

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has launched a new center that aims to strengthen local food systems under the umbrella of the Extension Service.

OSU's Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems is an outgrowth of the OSU Extension Service's Small Farms program. It expands the program's work with small farms production and marketing to provide a platform for collaboration across OSU and Oregon, which will help the center support farmers and build strong local and regional food systems.

A food system is a collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste.

Director Garry Stephenson, a small farms specialist, and associate director Lauren Gwin, a food systems specialist, lead the center. Stephenson has coordinated OSU Extension's Small Farms Program for more than 15 years. During that time, the program has emerged as a leader recognized on a national level for innovative applied research and educational programs. Gwin brings her expertise as a researcher focusing on supply chain logistics and regulatory issues. She also co-coordinates the National Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network.

"The OSU Extension Small Farms Program has always been about more than just small farms," Stephenson said. "We've always understood that for small farms to be successful, there needs to be consumers who are both willing and able to buy local food, businesses that want to sell it, and policy that supports it. These are all part of a successful and sustainable local food economy. Establishing the center allows us to take this work to the next level."

OSU's endeavor intersects with a nationwide local food trend. A 2010 study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service showed that direct-to-consumer marketing amounted to $1.2 billion in sales in 2007 nationwide, compared with $551 million in 1997. Research shows that local food systems can increase employment and income in communities, according to the USDA.

The center will continue research and education on sustainable farming methods, alternative markets and public policy. Additionally, the center will collaborate with Family and Community Health, an Extension program administered by OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences. It will ramp up partnerships with community-based nonprofits and other organizations. The center aims to create an endowment to add new small farms Extension positions in underserved communities.

“Rural and urban communities in Oregon are engaging with their food systems around issues of human health, long-term community economic development and access to healthy food for all Oregonians. We need to understand all aspects of the food system and collaborate with others," Gwin said. "This effort puts OSU on the map as explicitly valuing a food systems approach."

That teamwork is important to Wendy Siporen, executive director of the Rogue Valley-based nonprofit The Rogue Initiative for a Vital Economy (THRIVE). She is working with the center on several projects, including one that aims to increase consumer access to locally grown food in places such as conventional supermarkets.

"Their academic perspective and technical support are really critical and help show us we're making an impact locally," Siporen said. "Small nonprofits in rural communities often work in isolation, so it's important to get access to the center's statewide network to collaborate on best practices and policies. The goals of the center are core to THRIVE's mission of helping to rebuild our local food economy."

Media Contact: 
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Garry Stephenson, 541-737-5833;

Lauren Gwin, 541-737-1569

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A student carries a box of produce as part of the Southern Oregon Farmer Incubator program, a collaborative of organizations working to train new and beginning farmers. The OSU Extension Small Farms Program, one of the organizations involved in the effort, has launched a new center to support local food systems. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

New 4-H program aims to prepare culturally diverse youth for college

CORVALLIS, Ore. – High school students will explore college and career opportunities in a new 4-H program coordinated by the Oregon State University Extension Service.

The 4-H Outreach Leadership Institute aims to prepare high school students from diverse cultural backgrounds to attend college and pursue a variety of career paths, according to organizer Mario Magaña, an outreach specialist for OSU Extension 4-H. Magaña hopes the leadership institute will reach Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders and African-Americans, as well as rural Caucasians who would be first-generation college students.

It's set for Nov. 15-17 at OSU in Corvallis, with additional multi-day sessions in March of 2014 at OSU and May of 2014 at the Oregon 4-H Conference and Education Center in Salem. The leadership institute is an expansion of the former 4-H Camp Counselor Trainings and the replacement of the high school International Summer Camp.

"I really believe that high school is the time to expose kids to college information and leadership activities," Magaña said. "The leadership institute will help them gain the knowledge, confidence and skills needed to apply for competitive scholarships and to apply for top universities. If kids start attending the leadership institute during their freshman year, we're going to mentor them three times a year for every year of their high school careers."

On the OSU campus in Corvallis, students will get hands-on practice from several Oregon universities on how to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, fill out a college application, write a college admissions essay and compose a personal biography. They will learn about careers from OSU student and faculty mentors in engineering, forestry, veterinary medicine, health and nutrition, fisheries and wildlife, solar energy, wave energy, science and robotics.

The session in May in Salem will train students to become camp counselors for 4-H International Summer Camps in 2014. It will offer students activities to develop leadership skills. Activities will include campfire skits, games, songs and role-plays. Workshops will teach students about a camp counselor's roles and responsibilities, as well as camp rules and regulations. Students will also learn about the physical and educational activities that will take place during summer camps, ranging from swimming to archery to building Lego robotics, as well as other workshops related to science, engineering and technology.  

Jessica Casas of Salem participated in 4-H International Summer Camps as a camper and counselor. She is a sophomore at OSU majoring in sociology and hopes to earn her master's degree in public policy.

"I did see myself in college, but I did not know how I was going to get there,” Casas said. “I got to know about the resources available when I attended 4-H International Summer Camps. After I got to meet Latino and Latina students attending college and getting financial aid, I talked to my mom and knew I was going to college."  

Now Casas is attending OSU on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Her ultimate career goal is to represent Latinos in government-level legislature, with the hope of creating positive change in public policy for the Latino community. She is already on the path to pursuing that dream. At the leadership institute, Casas will coach students on applying for the competitive Gates Millennium Scholarship, which includes writing eight essays. 

Applications to the leadership institute are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. High school students in grades 9-12 from anywhere in Oregon are encouraged to apply. There is no cost to attend but an application is required. Students can apply at http://bit.ly/Outreach_Institute.

The Oregon Outreach project, which oversees the leadership institute, is an initiative of the OSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program. Oregon Outreach aims to support and expand the quality and quantity of community-based, culturally relevant educational programs for underserved populations. For more information, go to http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/oregonoutreach.

4-H is the largest out-of-school youth development program nationwide. The OSU Extension Service administrates Oregon's 4-H program within OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences. 4-H reached nearly 117,000 youth in kindergarten through 12th grade via a network of 8,534 volunteers in 2012. Activities focus on areas like healthy living, civic engagement, science and animal care. Learn more about 4-H at: http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu.

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Mario Magaña, 541-737-0925

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Students at a past 4-H International Summer Camp learn about engineering concepts in a hands-on activity. The Oregon State University Extension Service coordinates the camps. (Photo by Mario Magaña.)