A pair of recent news stories about Oregon State University’s Extension Service helped highlight what an extraordinarily valuable asset Extension is to OSU — and to all of Oregon.
First, as the Gazette-Times reported last week, Extension just placed a good-sized chunk of its history – some 6,000 documents that in some cases date back more than a century — on the OSU Libraries website.
Among the publications posted online are Extension bulletins, agricultural research station updates and research reports, dating back to the 1880s. They’re all free to access.
One of the risks of such a historical display is that it tends to suggest that the work of Extension is a relic of bygone days.
But anything more than a cursory glimpse will dispel that notion. In fact, it becomes clear after a just a bit of browsing that many of the issues that were important to Oregon residents 100 years ago continue to be important today.
And if you need more evidence on that point, consider the career of Rick Fletcher, who recently marked the end of his 32-year career as Extension forestry agent in Benton County. (Fletcher resigned from the post in October and now serves as the administrative pastor at Calvary Chapel in Corvallis.)
When he started his work for Extension, Fletcher was interested, as he said, “in the intersection of the people and the forest.” And so he focused on landowners, helping them improve forest health and wildlife habitat on their properties.
Those issues today are as important to the future of Oregon as they were 32 years ago.
And Extension continues to be just as essential as it was more than 100 years ago.
Officials at Oregon’s state universities and colleges have long pondered how best to make the case about their value to residents. It turns out that Extension has a model that’s worked, for more than a century, to do exactly that.
On the web
The OSU Extension collection is part of the library’s Scholars Archive, a digital repository of the university’s dissertations, theses and academic publications that’s about 26,000 documents strong. Extension’s archive can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/6qzz8ko.