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How to use the OSU Extension Service

Are you thinking of doing a gardening project this fall?

Are you thinking of doing a gardening project this fall, but not sure how to get started or how to create a bountiful harvest? Are you interested in learning how to eat healthier and finding recipes for easy-to-make nutritious meals? Or do you have a concern about maintaining your agricultural land this fall and winter?

If such concerns are on your mind, then consider getting some help and advice from the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Now in its 100th year, the Extension Service is the largest grassroots educational organization in the state. Its staff members and thousands of volunteers work with fellow Oregonians to impart up-to-date knowledge and research through classes and workshops, tours, publications, the Internet and by phone.

Here are a few examples of the resources that the Extension Service offers to residents in Multnomah and Clackamas counties.

Metro Master Gardeners

The Metro Master Gardener Program provides research-based education and outreach about gardening and household pests to people throughout the Portland-metro area.

The program's trained volunteers are educated on current gardening issues and new research. In 2010, Master Gardeners answered more than 37,000 gardening questions at county extension offices, farmers' markets, nurseries and other venues.

Master Gardeners also speak on gardening topics at the request of clubs and organizations, lead tours, volunteer at farmers' markets, work with community and school gardens and organize and manage the annual spring garden fair. Master Gardeners donated more than 3,000 pounds of produce to their communities through the Plant an Extra Row program.

The program holds free educational events throughout the year. In October, the Clackamas County chapter will hold a class on soil pH testing. In March 2012, the chapter will hold a 'Garden Discovery Day,' when adults can attend lectures, workshops and a gardening clinic; and children can enjoy hands-on activities. Anyone who wants to grow great tomatoes will want to check out the 'Secrets of the Tomato Masters' event in April 2012.

The Multnomah and Clackamas chapters also hold free gardening lectures each month. Each lecture features a presentation from an expert about gardening topics.

To learn more about the program, visit metromastergardeners.org. Clackamas County residents can get questions answered by calling the Master Gardeners at 503-655-8631 from 9 a.m.-noon and 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays; Multnomah County residents can call 503-445-5708 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

Health and wellness

The Extension Service offers community outreach programs and publications that help and encourage Oregonians to eat healthy and exercise.

The Extension Service's Family and Community Health program provides education on nutrition and physical activity for families, senior citizens and youth. Extension educators often work with students and community groups to demonstrate the benefits of healthy eating.

Visit extension.oregonstate.edu/fch for access to the Extension Service's publications, as well as links to agencies that can help. Nutritious recipes are available at healthyrecipes.oregonstate.edu/all-recipes.

People can even learn how to safely store their food by calling the food safety and preservation hotline at 1-800-354-7319, which is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday through Oct. 15, except holidays.

The Metro Hispanic Nutrition Program (MHNP) reaches out to the Latino community of the Portland area, teaching a variety of healthy eating and living topics. Call 503-254-5004 for information.

For senior citizens, the Extension Service provides publications related to aging, such as caregiving, finances, coping with loss and grief, depression and more.

On Oct. 3, the 'Mastery of Aging Well' program, developed in partnership with AARP, is offered to anyone interested in learning about healthy aging through an online interactive course, a series of online modules and a DVD learning package. Call 800-667-1465 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information.

Agriculture help

The Extension Service provides support and education to small farms and commercial agriculture through its Small Farms Program, helping farmers improve productivity and profitability.

On the website, smallfarms.oregonstate.edu, beginning farmers can access relevant information to help them get started on their enterprise. Farmers can also learn about soils, crops, pastures and marketing, as well as about organic growing and sustainable practices.

In Beavercreek, the Hopkins Demonstration Forest is used a learning laboratory by youth and adults to get hands-on education about sustainable forestry and natural resource land practices. Visit demonstrationforest.org for information.

On Sept. 17, the Oregon State University Extension Service will offer the Natural Resource School, a one-day educational event that focuses on creating classes designed for rural Oregon landowners covering land stewardship, production and management. For additional information, call Chrissy Lucas at 541-766-3556 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

4-H

In Oregon, 4-H is affiliated with Oregon State University. Extension Service faculty, staff and volunteers provide leadership and oversight of the 4-H program, which has thousands of youth members throughout the state.

The Extension Service offers workshops, classes and events throughout the year for members. In April 2010, the Extension Service in Clackamas County hosted the Blue Ribbon Workshop, where adults and children participated in 45-minute classes in sewing, leather crafts, photography, robotics and horticulture. The Extension Service and 4-H members regularly participate in the county fairs with shows, clinics and workshops.

Membership in 4-H is open to youth in kindergarten through the 12th grade. For information on how to become a member, call 503-655-8635.

Getting involved

The Extension Service invites people to get involved in the programs listed above by signing up for a volunteer-training program, where they'll receive the latest, research-based information and the skills needed to share that information with others in the community.

To learn more, call the Clackamas County Extension office at 503-655-8631 or the Portland-metro office at 503-725-8101.