The College of Agricultural Sciences represents a talented, multidisciplinary group of professionals across the entire state of Oregon. During these unpredictable and challenging times, our people continually demonstrate their tenacity, innovation and commitment to our students, our research, and our communities. In recognition of those efforts, we’ve launched the “Stay at Home Hero” award that will honor an individual every week who continually goes above and beyond in serving that commitment. It is open to all College staff and faculty. Nominations are accepted online and reviewed weekly. Recipients will receive a certificate and a gift card.

Blaine Baker

Department of Botany and Plant Pathology

On a regular day, Blaine is one of the main players in making sure that BPP runs smoothly, but this is even more true during the COVID-19 pandemic. While most of us are safely working from home, Blaine is one of the essential workers who is making sure that BPP and Cordley Hall run smoothly.

  • He has organized and maintained the sanitation protocol for BPP so that essential workers who have to come to the building are confident that the common touch surfaces are cleaned regularly.
  • He is facilitating the critical and essential operations of shipping and receiving for BPP and its many associated services including the OSU Plant Clinic, Nematode Testing Service, and the Sudden Oak Death Testing Service.
  • He is regularly monitoring the building for alarms and warnings associated with temperature control facilities that are needed for long-term maintenance of research projects.
  • Finally, he is playing an absolutely critical role in the BPP move to RWLB (Research Way Laboratory Building) and the renovation of Cordley Hall. This latter effort includes communicating with the staff in charge of the RWLB renovation, communicating with the staff in charge of the Cordley renovation, and ensuring safety as we schedule the move from Cordley to RWLB during a pandemic.

BPP is in a strong position to handle many of the current challenges because of Blaine.

Thank you, Blaine!

Arthur “Skip” Nyman

Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns

Skip is the Ranch Foreman and Herdsman at EOARC Burns. When “Shelter at Home” was announced, EOARC was in the midst of calving season, flood irrigation was occurring, and Skip was (and is) responsible for making sure all of our 300 cows and calves and other livestock are properly cared for. This includes:

  • Daily feeding of animals
  • Assuring water is accessible to all animals
  • Processing calves born within the most recent 24 hours (catching, tagging, etc.)

Also, when spring flooding occurs, it is critical that someone is available to manage the flooding using available infrastructure. If this is not handled properly in a timely manner it can result in extensive water damage to facilities and can also threaten the well-being of livestock. As the shelter order extended into April, Skip's responsibilities and actions continued to expand by necessity. EOARC had to move our cow herd 45 miles from Burns to the 16,000 acre Experimental Range to get them out of the flooded meadows at EOARC Headquarters because there was no longer dry ground for the animals to access and the calves had to be vaccinated.

Skip was able to coordinate with existing staff to accomplish all these tasks in a timely manner while maintaining OSU and state of Oregon social distancing and travel policies. Skip has gone above and beyond and has been instrumental in helping maintain essential projects, services, and facilities at EOARC Burns. This all occurred seamlessly, and similar work continues to occur, and is a testament to Skip's commitment to OSU and EOARC.

Thank you, Skip!

Pami Monnette

Lincoln County Small Farms/Home Horticulture Program Coordinator

Lincoln County has many diverse needs. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent sheltering-in-place orders elevated many of those needs. Pami responded immediately and saw the opportunity to both support small farms and food businesses while ensuring regional food systems were secure, sustainable, and inclusive. She knew she could do this by supporting a program for direct-buy locally grown and raised products.

To do this, Pami developed the Lincoln County Local Food Guide, which aims to provide community members with all of the resources they need to eat farm fresh foods from Lincoln County growers, ranchers, and fishers. She has promoted this via a website she built and also through radio publicity. On the Lincoln County Local Food Guide one can find an updated list of all the producers who are doing farm direct sales. Through the direct sales methods, Pami connects the community to farm stands, local food deliveries, U-pick, CSAs, whole/half pastured animals, and on-dock sales. These methods not only offer greater awareness for the consumer regarding where their food comes from, they also have offered accessibility to the community in a restricted travel environment and have promoted economic resiliency for small producers. Longer term, this is proving to be an ideal system to supplement farm sales in the geographically segmented micro-market economies of producers which exist along the coast. Pami’s local food guide covers the entire county and ensures that despite normal supply chain disruptions, Lincoln County residents have safe, reliable food systems and farmers have markets as restaurants have reduced their demand.

Pami’s innovative work has allowed Lincoln County residents and businesses to remain thriving and healthy during this otherwise challenging and unprecedented time.

Thank you, Pami!

Nicole Sanchez

Extension Service horticulture professor serving Klamath County

This week, we are proud to recognize Nicole Sanchez, an Extension Service horticulture professor serving Klamath County who has made and distributed more than 1,500 face coverings throughout her community since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

According to a recent story by OSU’s extension communications writer, Kym Pokorny, she has cut, pressed and sewn face coverings and donated them to recipients like food pantries, a library, schools, senior centers, postal workers, farmers and a rural ambulance crew.

Nicole was quoted in the story saying, “Once the word got out, people came out of the woodwork looking for them. The school district thanked me on the local news and quietly asked for another 50 to 60. I’m also working to fill requests from local businesses and community groups.”

All of the materials for the face coverings are paid for out of Nicole’s own pocket and she is working on her own time as a volunteer to make and distribute them.

As her work in the community making and distributing face coverings has grown, Nicole has also found other opportunities to make connections and make a difference above and beyond her regular work duties.

The same story published by OSU’s Extension office, noted that one connection turned into a partnership. Nicole just started Garden Gab, an in-person event where people can ask questions and try to “stump the garden guru.” She held them at a coffee shop and as she was discussing putting the program online with the owner, she offered face coverings for his crew that matched their T-shirts. In exchange, she was offered a sponsorship to move the program online.

Thank you, Nicole!

Fisheries and Wildlife COVID-19 Response Team

Department of Fisheries and Wildlife

Team Award—Fisheries and Wildlife COVID-19 Response Team: Selina Heppell, the head of the department, formed the Fisheries and Wildlife COVID-19 Response Team on March 11 to cover major departmental needs, including:

  • HR and front office operations
  • Research/facilities
  • Teaching
  • Advising undergraduates
  • Advising graduates

The team comprised of five members:

Meeting regularly (daily from March 16 to April 3) they provided updates, identified problems to be solved, and formulated plans to keep the department running and informed. The Team also provided a clear pathway for communication for faculty, staff and graduate students, many of whom have sent notes of appreciation for our coordinated response and clarity of procedures, even when rapidly changing and sometimes conflicting information was coming from the University.

Thank you F&W COVID-19 Response Team!

Dr. Ashley Thompson

Assistant Professor of Horticulture and OSU Extension Regional Horticultural faculty for Wasco and Hood River.

Over the past several months, Ashley has been instrumental in helping to develop educational webinars, resource materials as well as helping to provide access to critical PPE and cleaning supplies for the cherry and pear growers in the region. She has taken on this critical leadership role in close collaboration with local health departments, county governments, Wasco County Unified COVID-19 Command, Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers and other public and private agencies. Her work has been greatly appreciated by growers preparing for harvest and has had a direct impact on those important industries for our region and our state. The cherry and pear industries alone generate tens of millions of dollars to local economies and provide thousands of jobs.

Ashley is a remarkable example of OSU's mission to serve this state, its people and its communities.

Thank you, Ashley!

*Not pictured: John Brunoe

Warm Springs Agriculture & Community Gardening Team

This week we recognize a team of heroes from our Federated Tribe of Warm Springs Extension service.

The partnership between the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Oregon State University has existed for over 50 years. A formal Memorandum of Understanding between the University and the Tribes provides support for the Extension Program

The Warm Springs Agriculture and Community Gardening team consists of Tracy Wilson, Ellise David, John Brunoe, and Olivia Davis.

Together, this interdisciplinary group has been working in collaboration with the Warm Springs Community Action Team to provide raised garden kits for tribal members. Warm Springs is a known food desert in the best of times. Given the pandemic, community members are even more at risk because of a lack of access to fresh food.

The team conducted a needs assessment to figure out supply, food preference, and technical support needs. They are now working on a safe plan for purchase and dissemination of materials and will be implementing a virtual curriculum around growing, preparing, and preserving food. The interdisciplinary collaboration is an important part of this project and includes both CAS faculty and others across different disciplines.

Thank you for all you do!

Tjodie Richardson

Tjodie is the head advisor for the Applied Economics program and also serves as the assistant to the director of the Applied Economics Graduate Program as well as serving as the department’s E-Campus advisor. According to her nominator, she is “ALWAYS available WHENEVER you need her.”

Her job usually requires a lot of face-to-face interaction with both undergraduate and graduate students, but she has been able to pull it off remotely. That takes a lot of creativity on the fly. Academic advising has many unique needs and is very personal in nature. There are not many existing online resources designed to meet those needs. Far fewer, at least, than for conventional teaching.

Tjodie's job responsibilities serve many broad needs. She is vital to the success of OSU undergraduates and graduate students in Agricultural Business Management (B.S.), Environmental Economics and Policy (B.S.), and Applied Economics (M.S. and Ph.D.) These are very unique degrees, and Tjodie knows all the detailed rules and policies. She knows every student by name and spends huge amounts of time with them (now virtually).

Of her many, many tasks, Tjodie also coordinates reviews of department enterprise budgets (electronically now, of course). She goes above to deliver service for her department and for the College.

We are extremely thankful to her for her incredible, behind the scenes work.

Thank you, Tjodie!

Tim Weinke, Cory Zita & Dan Childs

Tim Weinke, Cory Zita, and Dan Childs have all been nominated collectively TWICE. Located at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HAREC), the three have worked together to ensure the station remains open for business.

Tim, who serves as the farm manager, has gone above and beyond what anyone would have expected of him. He has continued to conduct all the research trials on station and has been ably assisted by Dan and Cory who have all been practicing social distancing, including not sharing equipment or vehicles. This has taken a coordinated effort and thanks to their commitment, only a few minor trials were abandoned on station this year.

In addition to conducting the trials, Tim and his team have maintained the facilities in pristine condition proving how efficient and effective they all are. Whenever their accomplishments are noted, they modestly respond that they are “just doing their job.” However, they are deserving of much more recognition for their heroic efforts.

According to one of their nominators, “While many of us write and work from the comfort of our home offices, they have been out and about farming, making sure all research plots are going, doing the work of 2, 3, or 4 people while we stay at home.”

Thank you, Tim, Cory and Dan!