Term needed: Summer, Fall, Spring

Ideally this scholar would work with us full-time over the summer, and possibly be willing to work part-time in late spring, and part-time in the fall. 

Faculty mentor name: Nick Andrews

BES Facility: NWREC

Location (town) of internship: Aurora

Hourly Salary: $12     Expected hours/week: 24-40 in summer

Student may be asked to work on weekends or outside of 8-5.

Are Housing Benefits included in addition to hourly salary? no

Student will be operating vehicles or farm equipment/machinery. Student will need to submit a driving background


The Vegetable Variety Trial program at NWREC, and the Culinary Breeding Network are collaborating with experienced vegetable farmers, seed companies, public and private plant breeders, wholesale produce buyers and chefs to identify and test vegetable varieties at NWREC. Our project involves variety trials, an annual grower field day, and annual Vegetable Variety Showcase in Portland. Chefs prepare varieties for taste tests at the field day and Variety Showcase, and breeders highlight new cultivars under development.

Western Oregon has a robust farm to table food community with strong relationships between farmers and chefs. This project brings plant breeders, seed company representatives and produce buyers together to identify traits that farmers, chefs and wholesale buyers are looking for. The vegetable variety trials promote and expand awareness of cultivars created by public and independent plant breeders for organic systems.

Vegetable varieties selected by breeders and seed companies will be grown in using organic methods at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center’s Learning Farm. Variety selections will be listed on the Variety Trial website and photos will be posted on the site or emailed to breeders and seed companies to keep them aware of the varieties progress and address any growth issues in a timely manner.

Farmers, chefs, breeders, produce buyers and seed growers come together for a mid-September field day to discuss and taste the vegetables in the trials. We work with the Culinary Breeding Network chef to prepare vegetables for flavor evaluations. The fields are open throughout the season for particpants to evaluate. 


During this project the student will work closely with Heidi Noordijk and Lane Selman, the variety trial coordinators, to plan and maintain the vegetable plots and assist with the field day and Variety Showcase. The student will be working 15-30 hours per week outdoors and up to 8 hours per week of computer work inside.

The student will assist in maintaining the trial plots which will involve: marking out plots, seeding, transplanting, irrigation set-up and maintenance, weeding, training tomatoes, nutrient management, harvesting crops and washing crops. The student will be trained to operate tractors and will assist in bed preparation and mechanicial weed cultivation using tracotrs. The student should have some experience in farm production and an interest in sustainable agriculture.

We use Excel and Google sheets to organize and share our data, the student should be familiar with Excel and Word for this position. Training on using Drupal to keep the Vegetable Variety Trial website updated will be provided, experience with Drupal is preferred but not required for this position. Photos and written observations will be made throughout the season and updates sent to seed companies and breeders.

The student will assist in planning the mid-September field day. Tasks will include outreach, creating and installing signs, tent and table set-up and take down, creating and collecting evaluations, and assisting in preparation for flavor evaluations. The student will follow and evaluate the varieties from one crop throughout the season and share their findings during the field day. The student will write an article for the Down on the Farm (NWREC newsletter) and the Oregon Small Farm News (OSU Small Farms newsletter) about the project. They can also develop a poster or other scholarship for their BES program report.