Meeting mid-valley grass seed farmers and developing an understanding of living in a state with more than 250 different crops has been a priority since May for OSU Extension Service seed specialist Will Jessie.
Jessie, 32, moved to the mid-valley in December 2017, from Oklahoma, when his wife, Casi, was accepted for postdoctoral work at Oregon State University. She is studying slugs.
“It worked out great,” Jessie said. “I had wanted to move to Oregon for a long time. I had applied for this jobs, before we moved. We are very happy here.”
The couple met in high school in Bixby, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa. They have a six-year-old daughter, Emily.
“I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I did grow up surrounded by them,” Jessie said. “But, they are mostly sod farms, some corn, some cattle.”
His undergraduate degree is in wildlife ecology, his master’s degree is in entomology and doctorate is in plant pathology.
“I started this job in May and it was a great time. I rode in a lot of swathers and combines,” he said. “I learned about the need to get the grasses cut and combined on time.”
Jessie said he is still meeting new people in Linn, Lane and Benton counties.
“Right now, I’m working on army and cutworm issues,” Jessie said.
Jessie's also focusing on learning more about weed management, especially in certified crops, as nutrient management.
“The soils vary so greatly here,” he said.
Jessie said being able to work with staff on the OSU campus is a major plus.
“My immediate goal is that over the next two years that I can understand what there is to know about grass seed production,” he said. “I am also learning about how grass seed markets work.”
When he’s not working, Jessie and his family enjoy hiking especially at Marys Peak and the coast.
“I also like to make furniture and hope to get time to do that in the future,” Jessie said.
Jessie succeeds Clare Sullivan, who held the position from 2014 to 2017. She took a position as a small farms and community food systems extension agent in Central Oregon.