The Oregon State University 4-H/Extension Service District delivered a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners at their May 10 weekly business session, held at Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass.
Presenters discussed various topics, focusing on “our accomplishments and highlights over the past year,” according to OSU Extension administrative office manager Kayla Sheets.
“I have the privilege of working with people who are talented and very passionate about the things they do, and it certainly shows within their work,” Sheets said.
She recognized the entire staff of the Josephine County OSU Extension branch, which consists of: Jamie Davis, Southern Oregon regional director; Lisa Parlette, 4H outreach program coordinator; Danielle Knueppel, master gardener and small farms; Keith Hall, education program assistant 2; Cheryl Kirk, family and community health/SNAP-Ed; Chandra Disraeli, SNAP-Ed education program assistant; Anne Gross, family and community health education program assistant; Courtney Olcott, family and community health; and Hannah Padilla, office specialist 2.
Knueppel explained that the mission of the Josephine County Master Gardener Program is to, “Cultivate resilient and healthy communities through sustainable horticulture, education and gardening projects that are rooted in science and supported by OHSU extension volunteers.”
The JoCo Master Gardener Association is one of 23 county chapters in Oregon and has about 145 members.
Kirk discussed the Family & Community Health program, which strives for “healthy individuals, healthy families and healthy communities.”
One of their key components is SNAP-Ed, which Kirk said assists populations who are eligible for SNAP benefits. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and used to be known as Food Stamps.
“Our key goals with that are health promotion and food resource skills,” said Kirk. SNAP-Ed is funded through the Department of Human Services.
Next, Olcott detailed the Master Food Preserver Program. “What we do is we have classes in the community to educate the community on preservation practices and we also do community events and outreach as well,” Olcott explained.
Some food preservation methods that will be taught this year include pie filling, pressure canning, pickling, tomatoes & salsa, and jams & jellies.
Olcott also heads up OSU Extension’s local Strong People chair exercise program and talked about the results participants see, from improved mood and social contact to improved overall health and better outcomes following an injury.
Finally, Hall approached the podium to discuss the 4-H program, which has a mission “to empower youth to reach their full potential working and learning in partnership with caring adults.”
“Folks who participate in 4-H are twice as likely to get better grades in school, over three times as likely to contribute to their communities, twice as likely to report healthier living, and nearly twice as likely to pursue careers in science,” Hall claimed. “So that’s what we do in 4-H. We literally empower the youth to reach their full potential.”
Hall reported impressive accomplishments over the last year, including nearly doubling the 4-H program’s enrollment and attracting a great deal of community donations and support.
Besides the livestock-based programs 4H is known for, Hall listed a great deal of other activities offered by 4H: We are focusing on the arts, we’re focusing on creative writing, sewing, fiber arts, food and nutrition, photography, shooting sports, cake decorating, we’re going to have cupcake wars and we have the clover buds for the young ones – five to eight-year-olds. So we’ve got a lot of opportunities in our club-based paradigm, but there’s so much more than that.”
After the presentations were concluded, things got combative when the commissioners got a chance to respond and broached the recent controversy where Christian 4H members were forbidden from wearing crosses or other clothing pertaining to their religion, due to the fact that 4H is a federal program and this must maintain “religious neutrality,” as OSU Extension Southern Oregon Director Jamie Davis explained.
This prompted Commissioner DeYoung to decry the “woke element” that has come about in federal funding sources and he asked Davis, “How far has the woke manifesto, or whatever you want to call it, infiltrated into your program?”
Davis replied, “We have a responsibility as a state-funded institution to serve all Oregonians. And so we look at it from a way of, how do we develop programs in local communities to serve all people and so I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s through a woke lens. It’s just ensuring that we are serving all community members.”
DeYoung said he feels society has shifted to “a whole different philosophy on what’s right and what’s wrong” and that he will be keeping a close eye on OSU Extension to make sure they’re “not cutting parents out and what they believe.”
Commissioner John West added, “I feel like politics and the state’s agenda has infiltrated the 4H program.” For this reason, he thinks 4H is going “downhill” and alleged the state of Oregon wants to “brainwash our youth in a manner that is not acceptable to me.”
West told the OSU Extension faculty, “I’m going to be honest with you: I’m not a big fan after what this program has went through here. So I’m just going to be upfront and honest with you.”
Board Chair Herman Baertschiger got in on the 4H bashing as well, saying, “When I was a kid, we looked for 4H; it didn’t have to go find us. Sounds to me like you’re having to go find people now. That’s pretty sad what has happened, and it’s obvious. I mean, I’ll talk about the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The 800-pound gorilla in the room is the Biden administration’s policies have now trickled down to 4H. And 4H in Josephine County is swimming against the tide. You’re not swimming with it. Sorry. It saddens me… It saddens me.”
With their verdicts on the OSU Extension programs rendered, the board moved on in their agenda.
Also at the WBS, National Police Week was proclaimed for the week of May 14-20 throughout Josephine County.
Below find the full proclamation, read aloud May 10 by Commissioner Dan DeYoung:
Whereas, Congress of the United States of America has designated the week of May 14th through the 20th as National Police Week; and
Whereas, It is important that all citizens know and understand the duties, responsibilities, hazards, and sacrifices of their law enforcement agencies, and that members of our law enforcement agencies recognize their duty to serve the people by safeguarding life and property, by protecting them against violence and disorder, and by protecting the innocent against deception and the weak against oppression; and
Whereas, We should all Respect, Honor, and Remember those who have fallen; and
Whereas, The men and women of the law enforcement agencies of Josephine County unceasingly provide a vital public service.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the Josephine County Board of Commissioners, hereby proclaims the week of May 14-20, 2023 as National Police Week in Josephine County to join in commemorating law enforcement officers, past and present, who, by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities, have rendered a dedicated service to their communities and, in so doing, have established for themselves an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens. We call upon all citizens to honor those law enforcement officers, who, through their courageous deeds, have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their community or have become disabled in the performance of duty, and let us recognize and pay respect to the survivors of our fallen heroes.
Jon Aslakson was appointed to a three-year term on the JoCo Fair Board as the last action of the meeting. The vote to do so was unanimous.