tight budget make
future organization cloudy
By Holly Owens, Herald and News
January 5, 2006
Answers about funding Extension agents
are beginning to come in as overall
So far, the Klamath County Extension
Service and Klamath Experiment Station
administered through Oregon State University
have approval for 3.5 full-time equivalent
positions, which is the current staffing.
That may sound like status quo, but with
recent retirements taken into account, the
normal staff is five agents.
“We’re trying to do with three what we
were doing with five,” said Ron Hathaway,
Klamath County Extension staff chair. “We
can’t continue what we were doing when we’ve
got fewer people doing it.”
Three agents are scheduled to retire this
Hathaway will retire in December, row
crop agent Kerry Locke, who also manages the
master gardener program, will retire in
June, and Ken Rykbost, who has been working
part-time as the field station manager, will
retire fully in February.
With retirements, new agents and a
the overall organization of
the Extension, and programs offered, are
likely to change.
The fate of the master gardener program,
which is managed by Locke, is still
undecided. But Hathaway noted that the
program has been strongly supported
All of the details about the
the programs that will be offered haven’t
been decided yet, and Hathaway says there is
still room to bargain.
One option under consideration to lower
costs would be to combine in one location
administration of the Extension Service
offices on Vandenberg Road, and the
experiment station at the south end of
“We’re kind of looking at this with the
experiment station and the Extension being
jointly administered,” Hathaway said.
In order to prioritize the programs
offered through the Extension, Basin growers
in August were asked for input on their
Interest was indicated in three main
areas: marketing, forages and water.
The focus in marketing was to develop
niche or specialty markets in order to get
higher returns for crops, Hathaway said.
“The general idea was, instead of
producing a commodity, like potatoes, you’d
provide a specific brand in potatoes,”
Interest was also seen in new varieties
of grass hays and grass-alfalfa mix hays and
their importance to the livestock industry.
Water quality was the main focus for
Hathaway also sees a need for programs
dealing with agriculture business
“The limit is, what do you do with it
once you produce it?” Hathaway said. “That
ties back into the marketing. Agriculture is
a business —it’s not just farming.”
Hathaway has black-and white pictures
from the 1940s and ’50s in his office of a
crop not seen widely in the Basin any more.
“We were loading rail cars with cabbage,”
Hathaway said. “We can raise other crops
here. There’s no question about that. After
you raise a crop, you’ve got to be able to
do something with it.”
There are still more budget revisions
ahead and details to be worked out. And with
that comes the opportunity to bargain for
staffing and programs.
Hathaway is hoping to travel later this
month to Oregon State University to discuss
staffing needs and believes he’ll have a
better idea of the final
budget by early February.
H&N photo by Gary Thain
Brian Charlton, left, a faculty
research assistant at the Klamath
Experiment Station, and Ken Rykbost,
field station manager, use still-life
photography Wednesday to document a
few of the potato varieties grown at
the station. The Klamath County
Extension Service and Klamath
Experiment Station face the
possibility of fielding a reduced
staff as agents prepare to retire and
positions are frozen during a lean