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CRESWELL — What can OSU do for YOU? 

Next week, the Creswell Grange and the Oregon State University’s Lane County Extension Services will host a “listening session,” encouraging public input on what programs they’d like to see implemented in South Lane County. The event will be held at the Creswell Grange on Thursday, June 16 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. 

A year ago, Lane County voters passed Measure 20-319, a local option tax levy providing five years of funding for Extension programs in Lane County. The “listening session” will gather community input on how to best allocate the additional resources.

“You don’t get what you don’t ask for. If folks feel like they need or want enhanced services, they need to show up and talk about it,” said Kim Thompson, who is the economic development analyst with the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement at the University of Oregon.

The Creswell forum is just one of many across the state, as a part of a broader OSU Extension campaign to gather community feedback. 

“We try to help families and individuals thrive and protect and sustain natural resources as well as help local economies,” said Rich Riggs, who serves as outreach and engagement regional director for Lane, Benton, Linn, Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties. 

Where that tax levy money will go depends on the community’s recommendations. 

OSU Lane County Extension already supports a wide range of programs like the Lane County 4-H, a home food safety and preservation course, the Lane County master gardeners program, to name a few. “We provide research-based knowledge to farmers, community members and businesses,” Riggs said. 

The OSU Lane County Extension worked alongside University of Oregon’s IPPR to coordinate outreach efforts in Lane County. “We are really a convener to bring entities and community communities together,” said Thompson. 

According to Riggs, rural Lane County communities who’ve participated so far – Oakridge, Springfield and Veneta – have a desire to increase forestry programing. “These are tax dollars that people are giving us, and we want to be a good steward of those resources,” Riggs said. “Because it’s not our money; it’s their money.” 

The Grange donated the forum space, as a part of its increased programming after nearly three years of the Covid pandemic. “We were honored and excited that they contacted us and wanted to do outreach in the South Lane area,” said Martin McClure, Creswell Grange vice president. “The Grange … provides a great location for public forums. So we thought, ‘wow, we’d be happy to partner with them and promote this event.’” 

All programs are funded by taxpayers, the state legislature and federal law.

“We encourage anyone who is looking to learn more about what we do to come out and join us,” Riggs said. “Thanks to the taxpayers, this year we have quite a bit more money to spend, and we want to spend it how they want us to spend it.”