CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Extension Service and the Josephine County Board of Commissioners are working jointly to develop an annual plan of work for delivering OSU Extension services in Josephine County. Ivory Lyles, director of OSU Extension, and Herman Baertschiger Jr., county commission chair, have agreed to meet regularly in the coming year as part of a shared commitment to continue providing taxpayer-funded OSU Extension programs and services to county residents.
The agreements follow three recent public commission meetings that included a significant amount of positive and critical comment from members of the public and commissioners, prompting a plan to provide greater understanding and transparency of how county tax dollars are used to support local OSU Extension programs and operations. Lyles and Baertschiger recently discussed the concerns raised and agreed to work together on continuing services.
“I acknowledge that some of the comments made during the commissioners’ meetings were a surprise to me,” Lyles said. “At the same time, there is a lot of great work being done in Josephine County by Extension faculty and staff. The plan that Chair Baertschiger and I are working toward is a ‘win-win’ for all concerned and a collaborative and transparent approach that I am committed to.”
On June 7, the commissioners voted to approve a county Extension budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, but did not approve contributing property tax revenue collected in fiscal year 2024, and terminated the intergovernmental service agreement between the county and OSU that stipulates how funds are managed and how OSU educational programs in the county are provided. Since then, Baertschiger and Lyles have spoken to discuss a path forward.
“A discussion of where we are going from here needs to take place,” said Baertschiger, chair of the Josephine County Board of Commissioners.
“We take concerns and feedback seriously, as we are accountable to those we serve and for the public funds we are provided and use with great care,” said Lyles, OSU vice provost for Extension and Engagement and director of the OSU Extension Service. “In speaking with County Chair Baertschiger, I’m confident that we both share a goal of continuing to serve Josephine County residents with OSU Extension programs and services, and that we are on track toward improving communication and relationships with the commissioners and the community at large.”
Lyles said he and Extension staff will work with county commissioners in the coming months to develop an annual plan of work, including agreeing on what data and information are needed to demonstrate how OSU Extension is meeting county needs, having a positive impact and using county funds as intended.
“We will meet at least every three months to review that plan and its progress, discuss upcoming programs and emerging needs and address any questions or concerns that either of us have,” said Lyles. “In the meantime, we have an approved budget for the coming fiscal year and are moving forward with all planned programming.”
County funding for OSU Extension is provided through the 1996 voter-approved Josephine County 4-H/Extension Service District, which directly supports county OSU Extension and 4-H services and operations. With this county match, OSU also contributes over $517,000 in federal, state and grant funds to provide for delivery of services to county residents through educational programs in gardening, small farms and agriculture; family and community health; forestry and natural resources and 4-H youth development.
About the OSU Extension Service: The Oregon State University Extension Service shares research-based knowledge with people and communities in Oregon’s 36 counties. OSU Extension addresses issues that matter to urban and rural Oregonians. OSU Extension’s partnerships and programs contribute to a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for Oregon.