The Oregon State University Statewides Public Service Program received a $14 million increase in funding from the Oregon State Legislature this year. This allocation is the first substantial increase in its budget in nearly a decade and will allow OSU to hire new research and extension employees and improve its public service programs. The “OSU statewides,” as they’re commonly referred to, are unique to the university and give it a physical presence in nearly every county of the state. It is one of the most important ways OSU improves the lives of Oregonians and our state’s economy.

The statewides’ mission is to “improve the lives of Oregonians through discovery, outreach, and learning focused on critical issues of importance to communities throughout the state and the world.” The program has three sub-areas: OSU Extension Services, Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Forest Research Laboratory. The OSU Extension Service creates an avenue for Oregonians to find research-based information on economic development, healthy and productive life choices, and sustainable ecosystems. The Oregon Agricultural Experiment station is Oregon’s primary research generator related to food, agriculture, and natural resources. The Forest Research Laboratory helps Oregonians understand the science behind forest management, the connections between people and forests, and how renewable materials benefit businesses and communities.

Of the statewides’ budget, OSU will allocate about 31 percent to extension service, 44 percent for the agricultural experiment stations, and 25 percent for its forest research laboratory. This funding will advance the science of sustainable earth ecosystems, improve human health and wellness, promote economic growth and social progress, and further OSU’s commitment to diversity within the state of Oregon.

The funding increase approved by the Legislature will also allow OSU to hire more employees for the extension services. The university identified five areas of focus for hiring:

  • sustainable management of working landscapes
  • promoting public health, food safety, and security
  • ensuring water quality and quantity
  • technologies for business development
  • educating the workforce of tomorrow

The legislative support of OSU’s Statewide program will positively impact Oregon and help make the state a better place for current and future generations. The Beaver Caucus was proud to play a role in helping inform lawmakers about the importance of increasing its funding.