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Community revives Lane County Extension


Lane County ended financial support of extension in 2008


By DEAN REA


For the Capital Press


After a five-year recess, Lane County livestock producers are conducting monthly breakfast meetings to learn more about the industry.


Meanwhile, more than $50,000 has been raised to restart the 4-H program in Lane County after a two-year absence.


These recent developments illustrate how Oregon State University Extension Service programs are bursting with new life after Lane County discontinued its financial support in 2008. Faculty and staff were cut and the office was relocated after the county permitted temporary use of the Extension building at the Lane County Fairgrounds.


Members of the Lane County Livestock Association resumed meeting for breakfast in early February after agreeing to cover the expense of extension agent Shelby Filley when she travels from Roseburg to Springfield to speak. She also partners with livestock association representative Dick Langdon in arranging speakers.


Filley, a regional livestock and forages specialist, discussed livestock mineral nutrition with more than 24 members of the livestock association in Springfield on Feb. 13.


Jim Sly, association president, credits John Punches, the regional extension administrator in Roseburg, with finding a way to resume the educational breakfast meetings.


Punches, who is responsible for Lane, Curry, Coos and Douglas counties, said that the OSU Extension Service is "bursting with new life in Lane County."


After a two-year absence, the 4-H program is forming clubs and enrolling members, and a coordinator has been hired to direct the program.


Even though Lane County dropped its financial support in 2008, Punches said that several extension programs continued to operate through volunteer services, donations, user fees and grants.


"We have a community horticulture program because we have Master Gardeners who do a tremendous amount of work," Punches said. "We have about 450 people volunteering in the farm and garden program. A majority of those are Master Gardeners."


Volunteers also direct the food preservation program, funded by federal grants.


Punches said that extension has partnered with the Lane Community College Small Business Development Center in helping farmers create sound business models. Meanwhile, an extension agent who serves several counties visits farmers and helps with production issues.


Filley is scheduled to teach agriculture-related classes at the community college, including a two-hour session on April 11 on "Reproduction in Beef Cattle."


The Lane Extension forestry program also rests on a partnership with the Lane Small Woodlands Association and Forests Today and Forever.


"We have a lot of great support, and we plan to move ahead," Punches said.



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