2013-2014 Ambassadors

JamesJames Boulger

Senior, Corvallis, OR
Renewable Materials 

Growing up in Corvallis, I have always been surrounded by majestic Douglas-fir forests and knew early on that I wanted a career in which I could interact with the outdoors.  In high school I realized that I wanted to stay in Corvallis and become involved in Oregon State’s College of Forestry, but was still unsure which field I wanted to study.  After meeting with a recruiter in the Wood Science & Engineering department I became aware of the new Renewable Materials degree, and was instantly drawn to the program. This degree fit my desires perfectly; it allowed me to be a member of the College of Forestry while also focusing on the sustainable aspect of product development.

Oregon State University has provided educational opportunities that are more than I could have ever imagined. During my first year, while fully enrolled at Linn Benton Community College, I was able to get an internship at Flakeboard’s Albany based particleboard mill. This experience gave me hands-on practice with the testing methods and real-work application to my degree path. 

Along with the work experience I have gained through my time at OSU, I have been granted the humbling experience to represent Oregon State University at two International Forestry Students’ Symposiums. These symposiums have allowed me to travel internationally, Turkey in 2012 and Spain in 2013, while also being able to communicate with a global network of forestry students. Through this experience I have learned different cultural practices and broadened my knowledge of forestry on a global scale.  

As an Ambassador for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources, I hope to showcase the universities wide range of opportunities and promote them to future students in hopes that there time spent at OSU is as diverse and productive as mine has been

Emily DEmily Day

Junior, Corvallis, Oregon
Natural Resources

The fondest memories I have growing up are the many hiking and camping trips my parents took me on around Oregon. We spent weekends exploring the Cascades in the summer, camping next to rivers and swimming in their icy clear waters. These childhood experiences in nature fueled my love for the outdoors and have resonated with me throughout my entire life.

After high school, I attended Linn-Benton Community College and realized that I wanted to travel and experience other places. After living in various locations, I then moved to New Zealand where I spent a year working at farms and vineyards while hitchhiking around the country. During that time I met my husband, and later moved to Europe, where we travelled and volunteered throughout many countries. The experiences in new natural environments and cultures gave me valuable insights, new perspectives and made me who I am today.

After years of travelling, I discovered that I wanted to follow a career path that would help sustain the health of the environment. I wanted to start this path by pursuing an education at Oregon State University.

Ever since starting at OSU, I found focus and motivation that I never knew I possessed. Being a part of the university and the College of Forestry has given me the confidence and determination to be the best I can be. OSU is full of exciting opportunities and many ways to grow, both as an individual and as a professional. As an ambassador, I feel honored to represent the College of Agriculture Sciences and Forestry and to share my experiences with current and prospective students.

ErinErin Schenk

Junior, Portland, OR
Food Science and Technology

Hailing from the heart of Portland, I have always had a love for the city.  Upon coming to OSU, I never thought I would pursue agriculture; however, within it I have found my niche.  Through a high school mentorship at Oregon Health and Science University, I developed a passion for the field of medicine.  As a pre-medicine student with an interest in the process of making wine and growing grapes, I discovered a course of study in Food Science and Technology with an option in Enology and Viticulture.   While this was not my first declared major, the professors and students in Food Science and Technology helped me to connect the core curriculum of life sciences, and the relationships of food to health.  These connections ultimately allowed me to pursue my passion for medicine while also further developing my interests.

The range of opportunities I’ve had at OSU has made it the place for me.  As an Honors College student, I am challenged academically, and have conducted undergraduate research within the sensory science department of Food Science and Technology. One of the greatest aspects of being a student at OSU is the sense of community. Being a part of the food science community within the College of Agricultural Sciences has allowed me to make connections, and has immersed me in a nurturing atmosphere. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a member of the Ambassador team, and look forward to supporting my peers and the OSU community by expanding outreach of the College of Agricultural Sciences.

AshleyAshely Grucza

Senior, Turner, OR
Agricultural Business Management

I grew up near the small town of Turner, Oregon. Rather than going to preschool, I went to work with my dad every day until kindergarten. Accompanying him as he worked as a farrier, I quickly quickly gained a love and appreciation for horses. As soon as I was old enough to join in 4-H, I started to show my horse. After only one short year I realized that my passion for horses didn’t carry into the competition of showing them. We always had cattle on our property and raised steers for meat so I decided to make my move into the cattle world. It was the show ring with which I fell in love. Every year I raised auction steers to sell at the county fair, starting in 4-H and moving to FFA when I entered high school.

When graduation came around I knew OSU was the place I wanted to be.  I wanted to do something in the industry of agriculture, but I had no idea what that was. I decided that it was in my best interest to pursue a degree in Agricultural Business Management, which as fate would have it, was exactly where I needed to be. Being a student in this department has been an amazing experience. Coming from such a small town I didn’t know anyone in the College of Ag, but everyone was incredibly welcoming, and I now have a greater support system than I could have ever imagined. Getting involved in the college has been one of the best decisions of my college career. From being an Ambassador to starting an International Agriculture Club, and other activities on campus, these organizations have helped me to grow in my leadership skills and, build great relationships all while making wonderful memories.

Emily KEmily Kraxberger

Junior, Canby, Oregon
Animal Science with Poultry Option

Upon entering high school my career goals were far from the field of agriculture. Growing up in Canby, Oregon my experiences with agriculture consisted of raising a couple chickens and pygmy goats when I was young. But as soon as I became involved in the Canby FFA Chapter I knew that agriculture was my new future. I began my poultry endeavors raising six chicks and by my senior year I managed over 100 laying hens as well as many other breeds of poultry. I had had the opportunity to work on an Agriscience project that removed a virus from a groundcover perennial through tissue culture. This involvement with agriculture led me to start researching Oregon State University.

Ultimately, I did choose Oregon State because of the exceptional College of Agricultural Sciences and classes in the poultry field. On campus I am highly involved with the Poultry Science Club and I also work as the Membership Intern for the Oregon FFA Association. Working with Oregon FFA is a great way to stay involved and give back to the organization that got me to where I am today. My future plans include receiving an Animal Science and Agricultural Science degree from OSU and then pursuing a Masters degree in Agricultural Education.

As an Ambassador for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources I am excited to share my tips for success with prospective students. I also hope to gain a more comprehensive knowledge of our programs and share the benefits of Oregon State to others. I am looking forward to meet new people and for the year to come.

BrooklynBrooklyn Nelson

Senior:   Canby, OR
Agricultural Business Management

I was born and raised on a twenty acre farm just outside of Canby, Oregon.  Although I grew up on a farm, my original interest in agriculture was sparked by the 4-H Horse program in Clackamas County. My interest grew even more with my involvement in the National FFA Organization in high school.  With the experiences I had as a youth, attending Oregon State University was an easy choice for me.  In fact, it was the only college I applied to because of the benefits it had for me academically, technically, and professionally.

Currently, I am a senior studying Agricultural Business Management with a minor in Animal Sciences.  I will also be applying for graduate school and pursuing a Master’s degree in Agricultural Education.   My career aspiration is to be a high school agriculture teacher.  I hope to spark an interest in agriculture for many other students, like my Ag teacher did to me.  Not only do I want to share my knowledge with students, but give them guidance for the future.  Overall, I cannot think of a better way to spend my life than teaching about my passion, the agriculture industry.

One of my favorite aspects of Oregon State University is that it has many wonderful opportunities to offer.  Whether you want to join a club, participate in research, or study abroad.  I wish I would have been more involved earlier than I did.  It was not until my second year that I really became active and joined clubs such as Steer-a-Year and Dairy Club.  I learned that by stepping out of your comfort zone and getting involved is where you really learn the most and meet a lot of new people.  For example, I had no dairy cattle experience, but was interested in joining the Dairy Club to learn more about the dairy industry.  By stepping out of my comfort zone I was able to meet other members, learn more about the dairy industry, and help with events like the Beaver Classic Sale.

As an Ambassador for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources I want to serve as guidance for new, current, and prospective students.  I also want to encourage students to get involved and go outside their own comfort zones to take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities Oregon State has to offer. 

AlexAlex Powell

Junior, Sutherlin, Oregon
Agriculture Sciences

From the start of my Freshmen Fall term at Oregon State, I have discovered that my passion for agriculture, which stemmed from my involvement in 4-H and FFA, has led me to find and get involved with some of the best organizations at Oregon State. Within the College of Agricultural Sciences I have had the opportunity to be a leader, and from these opportunities I have discovered more and more ways that I can give back to the college and develop my leadership skills.  The skills I have developed from my active involvement with clubs and organizations will benefit me both professionally and personally throughout my entire life. Although I did not grow up on a farm or ranch, agriculture has always been a big part of my life, and I have a strong desire to help as many people as I can learn, and learn to talk about the industry and the career opportunities that Agriculture can provide them.

As a junior studying Agriculture Sciences I am proud to be serving as an Ambassador for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources. In order to represent the Colleges of Agriculture and Forestry, as well as the University I am working hard to develop my skills as a leader and communicator. Through my involvement with clubs and organizations such as the Leadership Academy, Agriculture Executive Council and I Love Farmers (ILF) as well as other groups on and off campus, I have learned a lot about the qualities a leader should possess and how I can develop those skills in a way that will benefit my college and my university.

As an Ambassador for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources I hope to leave an impact on prospective students as so that they might become an involved member of our OSU Community and a leader within the College of Agriculture Sciences.

Brianna SBrianna Sempert

Senior, Welches, Oregon
Fisheries and Wildlife

Growing up in the small town of Welches, Oregon at the base of Mt. Hood, my life revolved around the outdoors. I was always outside whether it was camping, fishing, skiing, playing sports, you name it. When I was younger, I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I wanted to be outside. By the time I got to high school, I discovered my interest in science. I joined my school’s environmental club and was vice president my senior year. My last year in high school, I decided to take an elective class that was new to the curriculum: oceanic science. I honestly believe that this class changed my life. I learned so much from the teacher and I was even presented as the Oceanic Science Student of the Year. Taking that class helped me figure out that I want to work in marine sciences.

During my search for the right college, Oregon State University caught my attention mainly because of the Hatfield Marine Science Center. During my visit to the main campus, I felt at home and that OSU was the right place for me. I entered as a Biology major, eventually switching to Zoology, and then finally to Fisheries and Wildlife. As a Fisheries and Wildlife major, I have gained valuable experience through an internship with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife this past summer and I am in the process of developing a specialization that allows me to take classes that pertains to the type of career I want to work towards after graduation. The transition from the College of Science to the College of Agricultural Sciences has been wonderful. The staff and faculty are warm and welcoming and provide everything you need to succeed in your college career.

As an Ambassador for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources, I hope to gain leadership and communication skills that will help me in my career. I also look forward to interacting with prospective students and helping those who are unsure of what they plan to do after high school. I am extremely happy with my decision to attend Oregon State and I am thrilled to be working alongside such amazing people in the Ambassador program this year.

Briana TBriana Tanaka

Senior, Cove, OR
Agricultural Business Management

My heart belongs to the small town of Union, OR where I grew up surrounded by family farms and agricultural companies. Initially, my 4-H projects, combining jobs, and involvement in the National FFA Organization were after-school hobbies; however, the important role agriculture plays in all avenues of our lives became too prominent to continue approaching it as just a learning experience. Advocating for agriculture is a passion of mine, and I’m deeply rooted in the continued education of how it impacts everyday lives.  

I have found that Oregon State University has served to be a better foundation to my current educational and career goals than I could have ever imagined. Through the student-centered faculty, the experience-based learning, and the eager, driven students, I have rediscovered my passion for agriculture on a tangible and inspirational platform. My major, Agricultural Business Management, has introduced me to the marketing, financial, and economic sectors of this industry, and I hope to pursue a career in  these avenues.

While I lived in a rural community, I didn’t grow up on a farm; however, I still found ties to the agricultural industry overflowing in every aspect of my life. I am confident that each person in this world has a known or unknown tie to agriculture, forestry, and natural resources and I’m excited to be an ambassador that will help create conversations that discover or reinforce their importance.

ElliElli Vanderzanden

Junior, Corvallis, OR
Agricultural Sciences

Animals have been a part of my life since before I could walk. I grew up in the woods within a few miles of Corvallis and constantly had a dog, chicken, goat, or some other animal near me at all times. It seemed only natural for me to join 4-H as soon as I was allowed to. From there, I dove into everything agriculture related with animal projects, county and state fairs, shows, and anything else I could do.

 When it came time to look at colleges, Oregon State University was the perfect fit for me. With my background and career goal of working as a 4-H extension agent, the Animal Science major seemed the way to go. Not only was there a great program for animal science, but also extremely supportive staff, active clubs, and a campus nestled perfectly between the mountains and the coast.

As an Ambassador for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources, I hope to share what the colleges have to offer for prospective students. I have had an abundance of rewarding experiences and through my time at OSU found what I am passionate about. My involvement in the different agricultural clubs and my job at the state 4-H office has helped me create goals that I felt were unattainable before. I am honored to be on the ambassador team for 2013-2014. The experience will further develop my skills as a leader, build relationships with individual faculty members, and create a more welcoming and supportive environment for future students.

BrandonBrandon Zgraggen

Senior, La Pine, Oregon
Forest Management

I have always felt at home when I was in the forest. During my youth, I was constantly exposed to outdoor environment. My love for the outdoors has been strengthened from the time spent on my grandparent’s cattle ranch to my time spent fishing, hunting, hiking and camping. As a student at La Pine High School, I participated in football, wrestling, the student council, as a teacher’s assistant for the special education program and in the forestry program. However, I was not sure if college was the right fit for me. After graduating, I spent my time fighting wildland fires and building houses. After five years of intensive labor, I decided that it was time to pursue a college education. I joined the forestry program at Central Oregon Community College, where I joined the logging sports team, the forestry club and received an Associate’s Degree in Forest Resources Technology.

My time spent at Central Oregon Community College only fueled my thirst for knowledge, so I decided to continue on and join the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. I have enjoyed the time I have spent at OSU and I look forward to expanding my knowledge and involvement with the college. I am excited to serve as an Ambassador for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources.  I look forward to sharing my experiences with prospective students and helping them to learn about OSU.