The OSU Crook County Extension Service will celebrate its 100th anniversary on May 7

by: KEVIN SPERL - Mylen Bohle, right, area Extension agronomist for the OSU Extension Service, checks for the presence of Winter Grain Mites in the fields of the McGinnis Ranch in Bend with ranch Manager Greg Mohnen. Bohle is managing a three-year Potassium rate trial on ranch property.

As a way to say thank you and “give back” to the people of Crook County, Oregon State Extension is pulling out all the stops for their 100th anniversary celebration.

Next Wednesday, the Oregon State University/Crook County Extension Service will celebrate by hosting a party on the front lawn of the Crook County Courthouse. There will be a free barbecue, the Sagebrush Shufflers will provide entertainment, and there will be a 1914-style photo booth complete with props – even a live donkey. A donation will be requested for the photo booth, the money going directly to the Crook County Food Bank.

Additionally, Flat Lucky 4-H Clover and OSU’s Benny Beaver will mingle in the crowd, and door prizes will be given away.

Proud of its educational outreach, the Crook County Mobile Computer Lab and Meeting Space Recreational Vehicle, equipped with its 14 Dell laptops, two TV screens and satellite internet access, will also be on site for tours.

For the past 100 years, Extension's mission has been to convey research-based knowledge in a way that is useful for people to improve their lives, their homes, and their communities.

“Oregon Extension started in the (Willamette) Valley in 1911. The first Extension agent was Amos Lovett who joined in April of 1914. Unfortunately, we don’t know any more about him than that,” said Tim Deboodt, the Extension's county leader.

The Extension Service is part of OSU’s Division of University Outreach and Engagement. Extension faculty and agents work with business people, growers, foresters, youth, and community leaders. They see first-hand what’s working, and what’s not working, in the community they serve.

However, even with statewide outreach, some people still don’t understand what Extension does.

“I think a lot of people don’t even know that we exist or what we do. 4-H is our most visible program and a lot of people don’t know that it’s led by Extension and OSU,” said Deboodt.

CCE’s services and education include the 4-H Youth Development Program,

“After the Bell-Crook County After School Program,” Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, COCC Crook County Open Campus, the Crook County Mobile Computer Lab and Meeting Space, the Extension Disaster Education Network, Family and Community Education, Health and Food Preservation, Forestry and Natural Resources, Livestock, Range and Natural Resources, and Small Farms/Small Acreage.

Their outreach spreads far and wide across both the county and the state.

“I tell people that we still make house calls. Most of our work is informal program delivery, lots of one on one to folks on farms and ranches,” said Deboodt.

Mylen Bohle, an Extension Agent with over 25 years experience and expertise in both forage and alfalfa, provides a good example of outreach.

“In addition to Crook County, Mylen frequently is called upon to help out in Eastern Oregon as well,” added Deboodt.

The primary mission of Crook County Extension is helping people. A 27-year veteran with CCE, Deboodt really enjoys his work.

“I get a kick out of helping people, seeing the things that we have provided help people be successful. Helping people is what Extension is all about.”

Long careers with CCE equal a great amount of expertise that’s shared with residents. Deboodt, Bohle, and office manager Pam Wiederholt have all been on-staff for more than 25 years.

“We’ve seen it all, heard it all,” said Wiederholt.

Nevertheless, staff has been surprised by things brought into the office for identification. Wiederholt remembers one particularly interesting story.

“One day a fellow brings his son in, coffee can with lid in-hand, wanting to know if what they caught was a rattlesnake. You could hear the snake inside, rattle going, and the father asks us if he should take the top off so we can see it ... Shocked, we told him it was fine the way it was! We put the can in the refrigerator, cooled the snake down, and identified it later as a rattler.”

Deboodt believes that educational outreach programs have changed the mindsets of both residents and producers (ranchers and farmers.)

“In my area of expertise, we’ve helped ranchers and farmers see the value of proper grazing and land management. We’ve also helped the public understand that ranchers and farmers are caretakers of the land, that they are doing good for both the environment and people.”

And education surrounding invasive species has been integral to CCE’s programs.

“We’ve spent a lot of time educating people on the whole world around juniper – what does it mean to Oregon’s range land, its impact on the productivity of the land, the economic viability of ranches, and the recreational opportunities for the public,” added Deboodt.

Over the last 100 years, however, evolution and adaptation has been a regular part of Extension’s organizational structure. Deboodt has seen a lot of changes during his tenure.

“We are an organization that’s getting smaller and smaller. In the 1990s we had about 300 people in Extension statewide. We now have about 200.”

Much of the decrease in personnel has to do with funding at the state and federal level.

“Our local funding is stable because it’s tied to property taxes. We were the first agricultural special taxing district in the state (1975). Local voters saw the need for CCE services. But on the state and federal level, as priorities changed, the funding has gotten smaller from them,” said Deboodt.

Technological changes will also impact CCE and the delivery of programs and services in the future.

“Row crop agriculture using driver-assisted tractors, robotic pruners that work in vineyards, electronic ear tags on cattle that monitor grazing patterns. All of these things will help the farmer and rancher make more informed decisions,” said Deboodt.

For more information about Crook County Extension

OSU/Crook County Extension

498 S.E. Lynn Blvd

Prineville, OR 97754


Open M-F 8 a.m. -5 p.m.


Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To Learn More About the History of the OSU Extension Service


OSU/Crook County Extension 100-year Celebration

When: Wednesday, May 7th 2014; 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Where: Front Lawn of the Crook County Courthouse, 300 N.E. Third St, Prineville

Who’s Invited: Everyone!

More information: Pam Wiederholt 541-447-6228.

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