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Peg Herring Oral History Interview

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Peg Herring Oral History Interview


This interview with Peg Herring begins with a discussion of her background. Born into a military family, Herring's early experiences were marked by frequent relocations, instilling a love for exploration and nature. Her fascination with space and the Apollo space missions eventually gave way to a passion for environmental science, leading her to study behavioral ecology at the University of Virginia. Herring's work with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) as a salmon biologist also immersed her in the study of salmon populations and their challenges. The interview further highlights her transition to UC Santa Cruz, driven by the salmon population crash. This move empowered her to become a science writer, combining her scientific expertise with her newfound passion. From there, joining the University of California Natural Reserve System allowed Herring to integrate her skills, producing informational materials while living in Oregon.

The interview then turns to Herring’s entrepreneurial experiences, wherein she discusses her memories of running her own business while holding multiple jobs simultaneously. She talks about equipping herself with necessary technology like ARPANET and printers to facilitate her work for the state of California, allowing her to explore her curiosity and stay updated. Herring explains that her decision to start her own business stemmed from a desire to know more about various topics and to keep up with the evolving landscape of science and technology. She also shares insights into her role as a science writer and editor, particularly during her time at Oregon State University. Herring also recalls her involvement in projects like the Natural Areas report, which she collaborated on with colleagues such as Sarah Greene. From there, she highlights her work with David Bunkhurst in Australia on a bioregional planning model and mentions how their collaboration impacted environmental policy.

Herring next discusses her transition to OSU, where she held various positions such as grant writer, science communications specialist, and editor of Oregon's Agricultural Progress magazine. She elaborates on the process of selecting themes for the magazine's issues and how it allowed her to collaborate with different academic disciplines and connect with organizations beyond the university. Herring’s pursuit of an MFA in journalism and communications at the University of Oregon is also touched upon. Herring's work at OSU allowed her to collaborate closely with scientists, translating complex research into accessible stories that engaged both the public and policymakers. She highlights the importance of effective science communication and the evolving landscape of the field, where scientists are increasingly becoming storytellers themselves. Herring also discusses her collaboration with Judith Li on children's books that introduce scientific concepts to young readers.

From there, Herring shares her journey into the field of illustration, which she traces back to her childhood passion for drawing animals. She elaborates on her involvement in the science illustration program at UC Santa Cruz, where she honed her artistic skills and learned the discipline and techniques of scientific illustration. She also emphasizes the significance of collaborating with fellow artists to gain diverse perspectives and refine her artistic abilities. The interview then delves into Herring's experiences as one of the first women undergraduates at the University of Virginia, describing the challenges and successes of being part of the early co-ed class. She also recalls her reactions to the 9/11 attacks while working at OSU, emphasizing the uncertainty and concern that pervaded the campus.

As the session nears its end, the discussion covers Herring's transition to a tenure-track position, even though she lacked a Ph.D., and her responsibilities in Extension work. She talks about the support she received from mentors and peers, enabling her to navigate the academic world effectively. The interview concludes with Herring discussing her personal life, particularly her family's farm where they grow peaches and organic vegetables, showcasing her connection to nature and her ongoing passion for both writing and art.


Peg Herring


Voices of Oregon State University Oral History Collection (OH 09)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries


March 8, 2023


Chris Petersen, Tiah Edmunson-Morton, Lily-Marie Lytle, Emma Ciechanowski, Carly Shanklin, Yuka Naryan, Karlie Bunting, Emma Crum, Maryann Ackerman


Born Digital Audio




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


HC 407 Students


Peg Herring


The Valley Library, Oregon State University

Original Format

Born Digital Audio



OHMS Object

Interview Format


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