The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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The OSU Extension Service Centennial Oral History Collection

Sixteen life history interviews conducted by Elizabeth Uhlig.

August 2007 - June 2009


Roberta Anderson

Roberta C. Frasier was appointed Family Life Specialist with the Oregon State University Extension Service in 1959, a position she held until her retirement in 1974. She trained Extension and 4-H educators and project leaders on a variety of topics pertaining to families, child development, aging, and communications within families; developed curriculum; and wrote guides and publications.

Frasier's numerous Extension publications include Family Communication (1964); Child Guidance Techniques (1965; Spanish language version, 1981); Death: A Family Crisis (1966); Early Marriage (1966); and Teaching Money Skills to Preschool Children (1969) She was also co-author of Parents and Babies: A Guide for Home Economics Assistants, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1966.

Frasier was the recipient of the first Osborne Teaching Award given by the National Council on Family Relations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also awarded her its Superior Service Award for her creative programming in family life education.

Frasier was born in Walla Walla, Washington in 1912 and grew up in rural southeast Washington. She earned a B.A. from Washington State College (1933) and a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington (1952). Prior to her appointment at Oregon State University, Frasier was chair of the Child Development Department at Washington State University from 1947 to 1959.

A mother of three children, Frasier was widowed in 1948. In 1972, she married Peter Rictor Anderson and began using the name Roberta Frasier Anderson. She passed away on May 15, 2015 at the age of 103.

Len Calvert

Leonard J. Calvert was first appointed as Information Specialist for the Extension Service in 1961. Harboring a strong interest and background in journalism, Calvert worked with and wrote news releases that dealt with a variety of Extension Service activities. In 1965, Calvert transferred to the University of Oregon in order to work for the Economic Opportunity Program, which was a program aimed at fighting poverty. In 1969, he returned to the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Over the course of his career, Calvert was responsible for writing and overseeing the completion of numerous press releases and publications. In 1973, his title changed to Extension Communication Specialist, and he retired in 1995 with an emeritus appointment. In retirement, he pursued his interest in journalism by serving as the editor of The Journal for Extension. He likewise remained affiliated with 4-H, including membership on the board of the Oregon 4-H Foundation.

Len Calvert was born in 1933 in Lane County, Oregon. He earned a B.A. in Journalism at the University of Oregon in 1955. After working in a number of positions, Calvert earned an M.A. in Journalism in 1973. Before Calvert joined the Extension Service, he worked as a news editor for the Sentinel newspaper of Coquille, as well as the Observer of Ontario, and the Headlight Herald of Tillamook.

Dean Frischknecht

W. Dean Frischknecht was hired by the Oregon Extension Service in 1956 as a Livestock Specialist. One of his primary responsibilities was working with the livestock industry of Oregon, focusing on beef cattle improvement. Over the course of his career, he represented many livestock related associations and committees, such as the Western Livestock Committee, Beef Improvement Federation, Oregon Cattlemen's Beef Improvement Committee, and 4-H Livestock Advisory Committee. He worked for the Extension Service until he retired in 1985 with an emeritus appointment, and continued to represent the Extension Service in organizations and different projects during his retirement.

Frischknecht authored many publications pertaining to the livestock industry. Among them are Beef Cattle: Shaping Up for Winter (1966); Some Feeding Alternatives for Wintering Beef Cattle (1973); How to Select, Grow, and Manage Replacement Heifers (1978); The Oregon Carcass of Merit Program (1984); and Old Deseret Live Stock Company: a Stockman's Memoir (2008), which describes his work on a ranch in Utah. He also co-authored Oregon Beef Improvement Procedures (1970); Cattle Facilities (1980); Feeding Beef Cattle during Periods of Feed Shortages (1980); Beef Production for Small Farms (1981); Understanding Calf Scours (1981); and Preventing Selenium Deficiency in Livestock (1983).

Dean Frischknecht was born in 1920 in Manti, Utah. He earned a B.S. in Animal Husbandry from Utah State Agriculture College in 1942 and an M.S. in Animal Husbandry in 1943. After college he worked for a ranch in Utah, and joined the Marines in January 1945, serving until his discharge in May 1946.

After his military service, Frischknecht went back to the ranch in Utah and worked from 1946 to 1954 as a sheep manager, caring for 40,000 ewes and helping with the cattle and horses. He then took a job as a life insurance underwriter for Pacific National Life before seeking a position with the Extension Service.

Dean Frischknecht passed away on April 4, 2013.

John Hansen

Niels John Hansen began his work for the Extension Service in 1943 in Linn County with responsibility for the county's 4-H program. From 1949 until 1972, he was staff Chair in Polk County, leading both the county office and its staff. He served as president of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents from 1965 to 1966 and was also an area water resource specialist in Salem for 18 months prior to his retirement at the end of 1973.

Hansen worked with the 4-H Foundation and helped form the 4-H Center in Polk County. He also became involved with the arboretum in Dallas in the early 1990s. He, his wife Ruth, and colleagues including Marion County agent Ben Newell, traveled widely, often visiting farms and other supporters of the agricultural industry. He was elected into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents in 2007.

Hansen was born in 1918 near Beaverton, Oregon and grew up on a dairy farm. He was a very active 4-H member for about ten years as a boy. He started college at Oregon State University in 1938 and graduated in 1941, completing a major in farm management and a minor in business. After college, his first job was with the Marion County Agricultural Conservation Association.

Bob Jacobson

Robert W. Jacobson began his career with the Oregon State University Extension Service in 1967 as a Marine Extension Agent. In 1968, when the Marine Science Extension Center opened in Newport, Oregon, Jacobson was relocated to the new center, where he continued his career as an agent. Jacobson remained a constant in Newport as Sea Grant officially formed and his department was expanded. In the midst of his career, Jacobson co-authored Oregon's Captivating Clams (1982). In 1995, he retired as emeritus after 28 years of service.

For his involvement in the community, Jacobson was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the community of Newport in 1970 and he remains quite active within his community. Beginning in 1987, Jacobson spent eight years on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and has also lent his expertise to Newport's Fishermen Involved in Natural Energy, an advisory group for wave energy projects.

Bob Jacobson was born in North Bend, Oregon in 1939 and earned his B.A. in Business from Oregon State University in 1963. Prior to joining the Extension Service, Jacobson was employed by the Oregon Fish Commission, the Oregon Game Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Duane Johnson

Duane P. Johnson began his career as the Extension Agent for Multnomah County in 1959. While stationed in Multnomah County, he was primarily responsible for area 4-H activities, though he also provided support to local livestock and agricultural concerns.

After completing graduate school in 1970, Johnson came back to work in Corvallis as a 4-H Youth Development Specialist with the university's Animal Science and Horticulture programs. In 1980, he accepted the position of Assistant Director for the State 4-H program, where he assisted in the administration of many initiatives, including the 4-H Community Pride/Community Service project and the 4-H Ambassador Program. He was promoted to Acting Program Leader in 1982 and to State 4-H Leader in 1983. Johnson remained in this position until 1990, when he returned to work as a Specialist.

Johnson retired in 2000 with 41 years of experience in the Oregon Extension Service. In retirement, he remained involved the 4-H Foundation, Kiwanis Key Club, and Pacific International Livestock Expositions, and served as President of Epsilon Sigma Phi, the Extension professionals association.

Johnson authored or co-authored a variety of publications, including Leader Attitudes of Area Organization (1970); 4-H Leather Craft (1973); 4-H Sheep Manual (1977); 4-H Sheep Project (1978); Beef Production for Small Farms (1981); and Oregon 4-H Dairy Advancement Program (1993).

Duane Johnson was born in 1937 in Wadena, Minnesota. He earned a B.S in Farm Operation and Vocational Education from Iowa State College (1959) and a M.A. in Adult Education from Colorado State University (1970).

Alberta Johnston

Alberta B. Johnston joined the Extension Service as a Home Management Specialist in 1963. Although her primary focus was on home economics, she also became involved in different areas of the home, including consumption and finances, and was involved with the Mini College program for home makers. She later served as the Extension Area Supervisor for Northwestern Oregon (1975) and Assistant Director for County Programs (1979), and then Associate Director (1982) and Deputy Director of the Extension Service (1987). She retired in 1990 with an emeritus appointment. During her career, she was affiliated with a number of professional associations, including the Oregon Home Economics Association, the Northwest Adult Education Association, and the United States Adult Association.

After her retirement, Johnston became deeply involved with the 4-H Foundation, serving as a trustee and overseeing the public funding of the organization. For her efforts with 4-H, she was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame and was honored by Epsilon Sigma Phi, an Extension honorary.

During her time with the Extension Service, Johnston authored or co-authored numerous publications, and was involved with the Journal of Extension. Some of her works include Credit Cards: 30 Days to Reality (1968); and The Truth-in-Lending Law and your Credit (1970). Some of her co-authored publications include Planning for Retirement (1964); Teaching Money Skills to Preschool Children (1969); and Choosing a Mobile Home (1970).

Alberta Johnston was born in 1920 in Hickman, Nebraska. She earned a B.S. in Vocational Home Economics from the University of Nebraska (1943), a M.S. in Economics and Home Economics from Kansas State University (1957), and a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of British Columbia (1973).

Prior to working for the Oregon Extension service, Johnston was a home economics and science teacher in Nebraska (1943-1947). Johnston first started working for the Wyoming Extension Service in 1949 as a Home Demonstration Agent, and also co-led as a 4-H agent (1949-1955). After obtaining her master's degree from Kansas State University in 1957, Johnston returned to Wyoming and became a Family Economist Specialist from 1957 to 1960. In 1960, she transferred to the Montana Extension program, where most of her efforts were focused on home management and family counseling.

Alberta Johnston passed away on March 15, 2016.

Harold Kerr

Harold E. Kerr began working for the Extension Service in Crook County as a County Extension Agent in 1960, focusing primarily on the area's 4-H program, but also assuming responsibility for the weed control program and hosting a Saturday radio talk show. He remained in this position until 1967, when he took a sabbatical to further his education.

After coming back from graduate school in 1969, Kerr started working in Morrow County as the regional Wheat Agent, Agronomist, and the Staff Chairman. After more than a decade in Morrow County, he was transferred to Wasco County in 1980. In 1982, Kerr was relocated again, this time to Corvallis, where he assumed the position of Associate Director for Extension Services. In 1990, Kerr retired and was given an emeritus appointment.

Harold Kerr was born in 1935 in the town of Arbuckle, California. He earned a B.S. in Animal Husbandry from Oregon State College (1957) and a M.S. in Extension Education from Colorado State University (1968).

After graduating from Oregon State College, Kerr worked as an Army Food Inspector in New York City (1957-1959). Kerr moved back to his hometown of Lakeview, Oregon in 1959, where he worked on the family farm until he started his career with Oregon State University. Harold Kerr passed away on October 16, 2009.

Glenn Klein

Glenn A. Klein's first connection with the Extension Service came about following his graduation from college in 1951, when he spent nine months as an International Farm Youth Exchange delegate in New Zealand. Upon returning stateside, Klein spent an additional six months traveling around Oregon and reporting on his experiences while abroad. In 1952 he was hired as an Extension Agent-at-Large and ultimately spent seven years in Medford as the 4-H Extension Agent for Jackson County. During this time, Klein helped to organize a 4-H covered wagon trek in commemoration of the Oregon centennial. He likewise helped to institute the first 4-H guide dog program in state history.

In 1960, Klein moved to Corvallis and worked as a State Extension Agent-at-Large. Following a stint in graduate school, Klein returned to the Extension Service as a State 4-H Specialist. In this capaity, Klein spent much of his time working with youth councils and helping to train 4-H leaders. Later on, Klein was also involved with implementing new land use policies in rural areas.

Over the final phase of his career, Klein worked on a joint appointment between the Extension Service and the OSU College of Education as a Leadership Development Specialist. As part of this position, Klein interacted closely with international students in OSU graduate programs, and wound up traveling to Tunisia, Lithuania and New Zealand to instruction Extension staff in those countries. He retired in 1990 as a professor emeritus, following a career at the university that spanned nearly forty years.

Glen Klein was born in Salem, Oregon in 1927 and raised in nearby Aumsville. Following the completion of his high school studies, Klein served in the United States Air Force from 1945 to 1947. He then enrolled at Oregon State College and completed his bachelor's degree in Agricultural Education in 1951. He later earned a master's degree from the University of Maryland in Adult Education (1962) and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University in Leadership Development (1976). He passed away on August 8, 2012 at the age of 84.

Linda Modrell

Linda Modrell began her roughly twenty-year career with the Extension Service in 1961, starting in the Corvallis business office until moving on to secretarial work a few months later. She held various part-time and full-time positions until 1975, when she returned to Extension after a stint as secretary for the Dean of Veterinary Medicine. Once returned, she spent the last several years of her career in Extension as the Business Services Manager.

Modrell began taking a community college classes in the early 1970s and ultimately earned her bachelor's degree in business with a concentration in accounting in 1981. Budget cuts in the early 1980s led to her losing her job with Extension, at which point she moved over to the College of Health and Human Performance. Modrell subsequently began working on a MBA in 1986 and finished it in 1987, specializing in community health. From there, she started working in state's Office of Health Policy and, after a short period of time, became Executive Director of the Health Services Commission. In this capacity, Modrell worked primarily on health policy and, most notably, was a member of the team that developed the Oregon Health Plan.

Modrell's direct involvement with county government began when she joined the budget committee for Benton County, on which she served for seven years. In 1999, Modrell was elected Benton County (Oregon) Commissioner. She was re-elected in 2002 and 2006 and 2010, spending a total of sixteen years as a commissioner.

Modrell was born in Eugene, Oregon in 1943 and grew up in Albany, Oregon.

Owen Osborne

Owen D. Osborne began his career as an assistant professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Oregon State University in 1971. While his primary responsibility was instruction for both graduates and undergraduates, Osborne became involved in a number of research programs. In particular, Osborne began working with the Office of Energy Research and Development to combat the oil crisis of the mid-1970s. Osborne's work with the federal and state legislatures likewise helped to start the Energy Extension program in Oregon.

In 1977, Osborne started working part-time for the newly established Energy Extension program as an Information Coordinator; he switched to full-time a year later. In this capacity, he also collaborated on a variety of other projects throughout the state with a number of agencies, including the Eugene Water and Electric Board.

Osborne left OSU in 1982 to take a job as the director of the Engineering Extension Service at Iowa State University, which was a unique branch of the state Extension Service. He returned to OSU Extension in 1990 to take the job of Associate Director of Programs. Osborne began a phased-retirement in 1998, which he completed shortly thereafter with an emeritus appointment. Throughout his career, Osborne was actively involved in the American Society for Engineering Education.

Osborne has authored a number of publications, including Simulating Oregon's Future Electrical Energy Demand (1977); Oregon Energy Extension Service State Plan (1980); and Improving Fireplace Efficiency (1988).

Owen Osborne was born in Versailles, Missouri in 1943. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri (1966), an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Oklahoma State University (1967), and a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in 1971.

Jack Ross

Jackson Ross joined the Oregon State Extension Service as an Extension Seed Certification Specialist after graduating from Oregon State College in 1951. In 1952, he moved to Madras, Oregon as the Jefferson County Extension Agent responsible for crops. Three years later, he came back to OSC as a Farm Crops Specialist, a position that required frequent travel. In 1957, Ross became a Farm Crops Specialist Supervisor and in 1959 he took a sabbatical to the University of Wisconsin to complete a master's degree in Extension Administration.

In the mid-1960s, Ross became a Community Development Specialist and was heavily involved with a program that hired disadvantaged and low-income youth to work with Extension agents. He also became the Assistant Director of the Extension Service during this time. He retired in 1975.

Ross was born in Washington, D.C. in 1920 and grew up in Arlington, Virginia. A year after graduating from high school in 1938, he became a clerk for the FBI and three years later, he transferred to an FBI office in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After a year and a half in South America, he enlisted in the United States Army. When he had completed his military service, he found work in a government office, but found that it was not to his liking. Instead, in 1946, he and his family moved to Oregon, where he spent three and a half years farming on father-in-law's land. He also enrolled part-time at Oregon State College, and graduated in 1951 with a degree in Farm Crops.

Jane Schroeder

Jane Schroeder joined the Extension Service in 1949, when found a position as a home economics agent in Marion County, Kansas. She moved to Oregon in 1952 to work as a home economist in Wasco County, living in The Dalles. Much of Schroeder's work during this period involved adult programs and leadership skills workshops. She also worked closely with 4-H, attending county fairs and serving as a judge in various categories. She likewise worked with homemakers in Celilo, and was present in the region when Celilo Falls was flooded by construction of The Dalles Dam in 1957.

Schroeder and her family moved to Redmond, Oregon in 1959, where she worked as an Extension Agent for Deschutes County. During this time, she helped to organize a kitchen planning and remodeling group that sparked her own interest in remodeling.

In 1970, the family moved to Madras, Oregon and Schroeder became the Home Economics Agent for Jefferson County, though she continued to contribute to projects in neighboring Deschutes and Crook counties. The family moved back to Redmond after eight years in Madras and, in 1980, Schroeder retired from a thirty-year career with Extension. After her retirement, she became a kitchen and bath planner, and also organized a travel business for seniors with her husband.

Schroeder was born in Altamont, Kansas in 1924. Growing up, she spent a decade living on a farm outside of town, before her family moved into Altamont itself during the Great Depression. After graduating from high school, she worked for Boeing as a rivet shooter, helping to build airplanes during World War II. Schroeder spent three years with Boeing, then enrolled at Kansas State University. At KSU, Schroeder majored in home economics and minored in design, completing her degree in 1949.

Walt Schroeder

Walter G. Schroeder began working for the Extension service in 1949 as an Agriculture Agent in Coos County. After being drafted at the beginning of the Korean War, Schroeder spent two years stationed in Germany. Following his discharge, Schroeder returned to his position at Coos County until 1956, when he decided to go to graduate school.

Returning to the Extension Service, Schroeder worked at the Lane County office in Florence until the office closed in 1962. After that, he was transferred to the Corvallis headquarters and became an Extension Agent-at-Large, where he helped to develop 4-H camps and trained future extension agents. During this period, Schroeder was also invited to Washington, D.C. to advise the Department of Agricultural Extension Service concerning outdoor recreation.

In 1965, Schroeder was transferred to Washington County and, two years later, he was transferred again, this time to Curry County. One arrived, Schroeder frequently worked with the regional 4-H clubs and also supported the development of community resources in agriculture, forestry, and marine science. In 1977, Schroeder took the position of County Staff Chairman.

Schroeder retired and was granted emeritus status in 1983. After retirement, he pursued other interests, including politics - he was elected to the state legislature in 1985 and held office until 1993. During this period, he also began writing about Curry County and his genealogy. Some of his published works include: Curry County Agriculture, the People and the Land: An Oregon Documentary (1998), They Found Gold on the Beach, a History of Central Curry County: An Oregon Documentary (1999), and Characters, Legends and Mysteries of Curry County, Oregon (2007).

Greg Tillson

Greg Tillson started his first full-time Extension Service job in 1970, working as an Extension Agent-At-Large, a position that supported a variety of projects in several different counties. About a year later, he became an Area Agent, specializing in community development. In 1972, Tillson and his family moved to Salem where he worked as a Tri-County Agent in community development for Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties, and focused on land use planning.

In 1977, Tillson completed a master's degree in Resource Geography with a focus in Agricultural Geography. In 1981, he began a twenty-year association with the Family Community Leadership Program as a state coordinator. This program was created to provide an educational infrastructure for women interested in becoming involved in public policy issues. During the first few years of the program, Tillson spent much of his time creating the curriculum, testing it, and then redesigning when necessary. The program quickly became very popular and grew rapidly, opening up to men and youth as well as women.

Tillson was also involved with volunteer development and in 1987, he became the Extension Volunteer Management Specialist. He also worked with the Volunteers in Partnership program. He served as the interim program leader for Extension Home Economics for two years and then became the department head for the Office of Personnel and Organizational Development. Tillson retired in 2004 after thirty-two years with Extension.

Greg Tillson was born in Corvallis, Oregon and grew up on a dairy farm near Alsea; his family moved back to Corvallis when he was in the fourth grade. Tillson enrolled at Oregon State University in 1963, majoring in Business Administration with a minor in Resource Geography. After a little over a year, he dropped out and received his draft notice. He joined the National Guard in 1965. The following year, he married returned to OSU. While still in school, he found part-time work with OSU Extension and helped write the County Resource Atlases. Tillson graduated from Oregon State in 1970.

Tom Zinn

Thomas G. Zinn began his career with the Extension Service in 1962 as a County Extension Agent for Columbia County. In 1965, he was transferred to Gilliam County. From 1970-1975, Zinn took a leave of absence in order to serve as a Wheat Specialist in Ankara, Turkey as a part of a team that was assembled to aid in the improvement of Turkish crop yields. Continuing his leave after returning stateside, Zinn quickly earned a master's degree in Cereal Production.

Upon returning to the Extension Service, Zinn was relocated to Wasco County where he served as an Extension Agent focusing on livestock and crops. In 1980, Zinn moved to Corvallis, Oregon to become a Supervisor within the Extension Service. During a reorganization of the Extension Service in 1982, Zinn was made an Associate Director. In 1993, Zinn retired from the Extension Service with an emeritus appointment.

Tom Zinn was born in 1933 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He earned a B.S. in Animal Husbandry from Oregon State College (1956) and a M.S. in Cereal Production from Oregon State University (1968). After earning his bachelor's degree, Zinn toured Iran as one of Oregon's International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) delegates.

Prior to joining the Extension Service, Zinn served as an Army Food Inspector and held a position with the Weyerhaeuser Company. While working at Weyerhaeuser, he met his wife, Lydia, and married her in 1960.