The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Bob and Kaety Jacobson Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

January 20, 2015


Robert Warren Jacobson was born in 1939 in North Bend, Oregon. Involved in 4-H, Jacobson also spent much of his recreational time as a boy hunting, fishing, and driving buggies on Oregon's coastal sand dunes. Jacobson grew up in North Bend and graduated from high school in 1958.

That fall, Jacobson enrolled at Oregon State College, attending school on a basketball scholarship. Originally a Forest Engineering major, Jacobson switched majors a few times during college, ultimately deciding on Business and Technology. Jacobson was also a regular in the Beaver basketball line-up despite having cut off three of his fingers in a plywood mill accident during the summer of 1961. Complications related to that injury led to his remaining at OSC for a fifth year where, his basketball eligibility exhausted, he participated on the college rally squad. Jacobson completed his coursework in spring 1963, earning a bachelor's degree in Business and Technology with a minor in Fisheries. He stayed at OSU for three more years, during which time he pursued a master's degree in Fisheries. He exited school in spring 1966 having not yet earned his graduate degree.

Jacobson's first job out of Oregon State was with the Oregon Fish Commission, where he worked for a year and a half. Then, in June 1967, Jacobson accepted a job offer to conduct Extension work on the Oregon coast. In so doing, Jacobson became the first Marine Extension Agent in U.S. history. Originally created as a product of the U.S. Technical Services Act, Jacobson's position was transferred to Oregon Sea Grant when that program came into operation in 1971.

As Marine Extension Agent for the entire Oregon coast, Jacobson wore many hats. A representative of the commercial fishing industry within the political realm, Jacobson also worked with all manner of fishing and seafood processing interests to identify areas of need and to create programs that could boost the industry. As an outgrowth of this, from 1987 to 1995, he served as a commissioner on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. Jacobson likewise developed a personal interest in commercial fishing early on in his Extension career, eventually taking up to five months per year as leave without pay so that he could fish commercially in Alaska.

Jacobson retired from OSU in 1995, at which point he became heavily involved in volunteer and philanthropic activities supporting his home community of Newport. A recipient of the town's Distinguished Service Award in 1970, Jacobson was honored again in 2014, this time as an Oregon Coast Council for the Arts Community Legend.

Kaety Rebecca Jacobson, one of the Bob's three daughters, was born in Lincoln City, Oregon in 1981. Growing up in Newport, Kaety was heavily involved with and influenced by her father's fishing and Extension activities. She began attending Oregon State University in fall 1999, majoring in Natural Resources, an interdisciplinary program which included coursework in areas ranging from fisheries to rangeland resources to forestry. A Corvallis resident for her first two years of college, Kaety moved back to Newport after her sophomore year and completed her curriculum primarily through online distance education classes

During her time as a student, Jacobson worked at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, running the visitor center. She also worked as a naturalist guide at Marine Discovery Tours in Newport. Both of these jobs influenced her desire to pursue marine education as a career. After graduating from OSU in 2003, Jacobson found employment with the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. In 2005, her father's former position with the Marine Extension Service came open. Kaety Jacobson applied and was hired, two years after finishing her bachelor’s degree at Oregon State. She gave birth to her first child not long afterward.

As with her father before her, Kaety Jacobson has been involved in a number of different activities as Marine Extension Agent, including the production of multiple YouTube videos focusing on different topics in marine education. Jacobson has also been central to conversations and planning surrounding the development of renewable energy sources on the Oregon coast.

Today, Jacobson spends much of her time coordinating programming with the fishing industry, the coastal community, and different entities within Oregon State University, including the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Her work addresses numerous issues of importance to coastal communities, such as collaborative fisheries research, ocean energy, fisheries education, and at-sea safety. She also serves as the county leader for the OSU Lincoln County Extension Office in Newport.