Although he grew up in Emporia, Kan., and is completing a doctorate at Purdue University in Indiana, new OSU Extension seed crop specialist Paul Marquardt is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest.

In March, Marquardt, 32, will begin his duties as an assistant professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University. He succeeds Mark Mellbye, who has retired.

He earned an undergraduate degree in biology in 2003 from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash.

“I’m excited to be coming back to the Pacific Northwest,” Marquardt said. “I love being outdoors and I miss the hiking, camping and mild weather of the Northwest.”

He also enjoys pheasant and quail hunting.

Although he grew up surrounded by agriculture, Marquardt said it was a summer internship with Washington State University in 2002 that sparked his interest in it as a career.

“I worked on pest management in broccoli,” Marquardt said. “I had been thinking about a career in medical technology or pharmacy, but I really enjoy working outside.”

In the summer of 2003, Marquardt again worked with Washington State, this time in apple orchards near Wenatchee.

“That got me even more involved,” he said.

Marquardt will graduate in March with a doctorate in weed science. He also completed a master’s degree in entomology at Purdue in 2007.

“I don’t have a lot of hands-on experience with grass seed, but I’m excited to learn,” Marquardt said. “The pest and weed management that goes into producing corn or soybeans is the same as grass seed. There are just different pests and other issues to deal with.”

The move to Oregon also puts Marquardt closer to his parents — his father was a Lutheran minister and his mother a high school biology teacher — who retired 10 years ago and moved to Wenatchee.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Marquardt said. “I hope to make a mark in the valley, to help the growers in the valley, especially from the pest control side of farming.”

Derek Godwin, Outreach and Engagement Regional Administrator for Linn, Benton, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties, said Marquardt rose to the top in a field of many applicants.

“Paul brings a variety of skills that we’re excited about,” Godwin said. “He has a strong academic background in farming, weed science and entomology, as well as plant science. His background is also well-balanced in field research, publishing and extension work. He has made a lot of presentations and has done a lot of field work with farmers.”

Marquardt also has a “personality that will allow him to build relationships with growers and be successful within the campus system as well,” Godwin said.

The Linn County Board of Commissioners strongly supported filling the position, even though Oregon State and the Extension Service have experienced budget cuts.

“I commend OSU Extension for making the hire and supporting agribusiness,” said Roger Nyquist, chairman of the board of commissioners. “Agriculture is important to Oregon and a key economic segment of the mid-valley economy.”

Alex Paul is the Linn County reporter for the Democrat-Herald. He can be contacted at 541-812-6114 or alex.paul@lee.net.

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