• Pollinator Gardens: Planting with a Purpose
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    pollinator-garden-at-the-marion-garden-in-salem-or_18758303059_oAfter a chilly and wet winter, spring is finally here, and for many Oregonians that means getting outside and tending a garden. In addition to boosting your vitamin D, the season will keep its promise of welcoming the pollinating bugs your crops rely on. While it may be common knowledge that these pollinators are important to the growth and success of many of the fruits and vegetables we consume, one may not be as aware of how to support them in everyday gardening practices—or that you can actually plant a specific garden to do so!

    In short, a pollinator garden is a plot containing a variety of purposefully planted flora that attract pollinating insects including bees, butterflies, and flies.

    “Most people focus only on pollinator plants. These flowering plants offer nectar and pollen that can attract pollinating insects. But, also important are practices that allow pollinators to nest and persist in your garden,” said Gail Langellotto, the statewide coordinator for the Oregon State University Extension Service’s Master Gardener program.

    For those more inclined to focus on pollinator plants than nesting, Langellotto suggests choosing native plants but also adding in lavenders, Pacific or coast rhododendron, blueblossom, ocean spray, serviceberry, Russian sage, red-flowering currant, zinnias, sunflower, salal, or catmint. However, Langellotto says that planting native milkweed should be a top priority, as it happens to be a host plant for migratory monarch butterflies.

    When it comes to providing a great nesting environment, the amount of mulch is an important consideration. Too much mulch will turn away nesting bees, but on the flip side it tends to invite yellow jackets. Additionally, be mindful of hollow-stemmed plants, as cavity-nesting bees might turn them into homes.

    “If you prune woody plants and create a small brush pile, this can be beneficial for cavity-nesting (and to some extent, ground-nesting) bees. Of course, this same approach can create habitat for rodents. Weigh the good against the bad, specific to what is going on in your garden,” Langellotto said.

    This season, consider helping out your local friendly (and even unfriendly) pollinating bugs by planting one or two plants they’d love. After all, many of the summer treats available for consumption in the next few months will be a product of the pollinators’ hard work.

    For further information on gardening, visit http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/

    By Liz Sterling

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  • Beekeepers of Benton County: What You Can Do to Help
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    Larsen4Honeybees are just one of over 20,000 species of bees worldwide which dutifully fertilize the world’s supply of flowering insect-pollinated plants. An impressive species, it is estimated that honeybees pollinate over 80% of U.S. insect crops. Without these bees, our world’s supply of food and plant life would starkly diminish—the reason a beekeeper’s role is so important, though not everyone need invest in the hobby to help maintain healthy hives.

    By simply purchasing or advocating for synthetic-free and forage-friendly plants and practices, anyone can help sustain and strengthen the bee chain.

    Field Day with Foragers
    Tim Wydronek of Alder Creek Honey, a local source for homemade wax and honey products, is a sideliner in the bee biz—not exactly at commercial status, but still profiting from annual pollination and honey sales.

    Luckily, the shadowy skies held back their threat of rain the day I suited up and set out to visit a few of Wydronek’s 40 or so colonies. I was nervous after forewarnings of bee stings in stormy weather. On windy, rainy days or when their honey supplies are superfluent, the bees can be mean, sensing a threat to their hives.

    “They go towards joints,” warned Wydronek. The honeybees somehow sense an infiltrator’s weak spots, a reason beekeepers keep a calm demeanor, and use smoke as a masking device to the bees’ pheromones, released each time a bee is killed to communicate danger and smelling strangely like bananas.

    Currently, Wydronek has a goal of reaching 60 hives by season’s end, and is in the business of selling queens from California, where he transplants his hives during winter months for continued production. By keeping them in warm weather and near almond and citrus trees, his bees are capable of producing more brood and honey.

    Brood is the term for the larvae or bees in pupa stage, capped in wax in the hive’s hexagonic cells. When hives are in the larval stage, Wydronek is able to “split” them by moving capped inner frames to new hives with new queens. Each queen is kept in a cage or chamber and often protected by a “candy plug” the bees must chew through before reaching her. This gives the bees time to accept and get used to the scent of their new queen.

    “If you introduce her too fast, they can kill her,” explained Wydronek. “ Interestingly, a queen bee is one of the major upkeeps of any hive, as queens can become weak and die off, or fail to reproduce at a sustainable rate. Wydronek’s queens are tagged with white dots for tracking purposes. Speaking at length over the order of bees in their hives, Wydronek classifies between the big-eyed male drones and female worker bees, explaining the sole purpose of the drones as mating.

    There are designated areas around the hives, such as drone congregation areas in the air, where drones latch onto females flying by to mate, then drop dead. “Orientation flight” occurs around a hive’s ledge, where new bees linger, getting familiar, before buzzing off to explore.

    Worker bees live fascinating lives, and can switch between roles within their lifetimes. Some are  soldier bees, who guard the queen, or undertakers, compelled to dispose of deceased bodies from the hives. Scientists have even found honeybees have varying degrees of timidness or adventurousness, and have used their behaviors for algorithms used by police in catching serial killers.

    The cells in the structured hives are used for varying purposes and storage of honey. When transporting pollen to their hives, foraging bees fill pollen baskets on their hind legs, detectable by a bright yellow lining. Nectar is stored in their honey stomachs and honey is cultivated in cells, after nectar is dropped off and processed by bees in the hive. The bees fan the honey with their wings until it reaches the right dehydration, then cap the honey-filled cells with wax.

    There are all kinds of designated cells within a honeycomb structure. “An emergency cell would be if something happened to the queen,” said Wydronek. In cases of a queen’s declining health, worker bees “take an egg or a larvae two or three days old and they start feeding it nothing but royal jelly and that will become a queen.”

    It’s important to keep a healthy stock of hives, given average annual losses among beekeepers, which can total to almost 50%. Wydronek references diseases such as American foulbrood, producing spore-forming larvae and weak hives. The larval consistency is soupy or snot-like with an off smell. Once detected, beekeepers must kill the bees and burn the hives.

    But not all is grim for the average beekeeper, who gets to relish in a season’s surplus of wax and honey. Wydronek gave me a personal taste of his supply—the first scoop ever from his capped spring reserve. Now let me tell you, I have never tasted honey so fresh and richly complex, scooped straight from the source, the bees nibbling and scraping away at nearby cells. Oh, and in case you were wondering—no, I never got stung.

    TimWydronekBackyard Beekeeping and Ways to Help
    Operating on an even smaller scale, Jen Larsen of Nectar Bee Supply is considered a backyard beekeeper—a hobbyist with a handful of hives she keeps for fun. Larsen currently tends 10 hives at various locations, a number she says is on the high side for most backyard beekeepers. Larsen’s hives stay stationary “at the whims of the seasons” year-round, feeding on nectar supplies and clustering together in winter months, vibrating their wings to keep warm.

    Larsen began beekeeping five years ago, and started Nectar Bee Supply with a few friends in 2012 before selling to Shonnard’s Nursery in 2014. Fascinated by bees from an early age, Larsen, like Wydronek, is a member of the Linn Benton Beekeeping Association (LBBA), and a mentor and “journey” level student in Oregon State University’s Master Bee Program. Like Wydronek, Larsen is approaching master status, which surprisingly no beekeeper has yet reached in Oregon.

    Larsen also offers support to outside enthusiasts. “This is a hobby that requires kind of an investment in knowledge,” she shared. And expenses, too, with starting costs in the hundreds for hives and equipment. The cost of starter kids at Shonnard’s range from $259 to $315. “It’s an investment,” admitted Larsen, “but [the hives are] durable and last year after year.”

    With some beginner frames, there are no wax honeycomb structures for honey reserves, and beekeepers usually give their bees a boost in form of diluted sugar supplements “that approximates what they can gather from flowers” until they are able to sustain themselves. Shonnard’s sells some dilutions in-store, along with Larsen’s own honey supplies under the name Honey Bee Reverie.

    Once built, the honeycomb structure remains for the bees to use and the wax is continually scraped off the capped tops. “To access the honey for extraction, we have to take that wax capping off, so we can harvest that wax, and melt it down and filter it.”

    The extracting process involves the frames being spun in a device which flings the honey out against the sides, running down and collecting in buckets. Most extractors are hand-cranked, though some are mobilized, and of course, cleaning can be “a big chore.”

    Eventually, beekeepers earn back their bucks in form of wax and honey, the bread and butter of beekeeping, as a single hive can produce up to several gallons of honey per season. Larsen explains the variables involved in a season’s honey supply as “depending on the weather and how strong a bee colony is.”

    Larsen regards the warmer weather this season as kind of a bonus for production. “The bees can get out and forage,” she said. With clear skies, they can collect from blooming blackberry bushes, a main source of local nectar. Other pollinators this season include big leaf maples and various herbs and vegetables. “Really what they love is ornamental flower gardens and vegetable gardens, especially if you have some [flowering] herbs.”

    Shonnard’s is unique in that the store specializes in pollinator plants untreated by pesticides or neonicotinoids, an important practice in keeping local honey bee hives strong, as harsh chemicals may weaken the bees’ immune systems.

    “I don’t advocate antibiotics,” said Larsen, explaining how researchers have found resistance in bees subjected to synthetic treatments. Larsen does, however, treat her hives with natural miticides, with compounds “naturally found in a beehive, like formic acid and thymol.”

    Mites are “a huge problem,” specifically the parasitic Varroa destructor mite, which attaches to the backs of adult bees and hides in larval cells, then reproduces and hatches into hives when  cells are uncapped.

    “As the bee is growing and developing in the cell, that mite is feeding on the developing bee, so when it emerges, its wings are shriveled or its immune system is completely compromised,” Larsen explained.

    “There are just so many factors involved in the loss of bees… they kind of just all work together to make this perfect storm of adverse effects,” she continued. However, luckily, “People are realizing that you don’t have to have a hive of bees to be a beekeeper. Just by planting flowering plants in your yard and not using pesticides on them, you can do a lot for the health of local bees.”

    To learn more about beekeeping supplies at Shonnard’s Nursery and Nectar Creek Supply, visit http://www.shonnards.com/beekeeping/. If interested in learning more about Tim Wydronek or purchasing Alder Creek products, visit http://aldercreekhoney.com/. Other recommended regional honey suppliers include Honey Bee Reverie, Old Blue Raw Honey, Honey Tree Apiaries, and Queen Bee Apiaries.

    By Stevie Beisswanger

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  • America and Honey Regulation
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    honey_jarNot realizing that the FDA doesn’t have a strict honey regulation policy, most American consumers think nothing of grabbing their favorite brand off the shelves and tossing it in the cart. However, due to lack of regulation, that “honey bear” we all love could be filled with imported honey that is contaminated with antibiotics or heavy metals. Yum.

    Many countries have honey standards that measure the composition of the honey, type (blossom or honeydew), and analyze the pollen. The European Union, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Canada, England, and Spain, for example, all have some form of honey regulation. These countries have also forbidden the import of Chinese honey for two reasons: it’s cheap and typically full of contaminants. These regulations are designed to protect citizens as well as stop the exceedingly low prices from disturbing the market and putting local apiaries out of business. So why is the United States the odd man out?

    First we must look at a “Food Code” known as The Codex Alimentarius (enacted in 1963). It was started by the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) with the purpose of developing consistent international food standards to “protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.” After the Codex’s creation, a working definition was made for honey.

    Fast forward to March 2006. The U.S. is experiencing a major honey supply shortage and so tons of unadulturated foreign honey hits the market. Because there are no regulations in place to protect against this, the American Beekeeping Federation and a few other associations turned in a citizen petition requesting that the FDA adopt a U.S. standard of identity for honey similar to what was enacted by the Codex. The petitioners gave three reasons for this request: to clarify what the term “honey” means and promote honesty in labeling of the product, to fight debasement of honey by aiding enforcement and industry compliance, and to promote honesty and fair dealing within the food trade. It failed.

    Five years later in 2011 the petition was denied again because it “did not provide reasonable grounds” for the petitioners’ rationale. They also added that the goals in the petition could “be achieved by our existing authorities and a standard of identity for honey would not promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers.” This is a simple ruling for a very complex situation, and so blame lies on all sides of the fence. And while the U.S. does enforce country-of-origin labeling on honey products, many feel that the disservice to consumers lies elsewhere. Efforts for regulatory reform are ongoing, but any significant change seems far off.

    Because of the failure to get national regulation, many have turned to state measures. At this point, several states have created standards and many more are in the process. These standards seem to be all different, and have experienced various amounts of success. What is honey? What’s the difference between pure honey and raw honey? These are the questions they have to tackle before a working regulation will shore up the cracks through which contaminated sources get into our stores.

    In the meantime, mindful consumers do have one great option: source local. Though all of the terms are still largely misrepresented in this area as well, it’s a lot easier to do your homework on the producer to make sure that what you’re sticking in your mouth is what you think it is.

    By Liz Sterling

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  • Honey Bee Collapse = Human Hunger
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    BeeLab2We all owe a huge thanks to the tiny honeybee. While doggedly pollinating most crops of vital importance and underpinning much of our existence here on Earth, the honeybee is buzzing a fine line between MVP of the insect world and ceasing to exist altogether. Pointing to steep declines in managed honeybee colonies, the Obama administration has announced a $50 million spending plan for a multi-agency response effort. The White House added that 90 commercially grown crops in North America are dependent on pollinators, and that honeybees contribute $15 billion to the U.S. economy.

    In fact, BeeInformed.org recently released their 2015-’16 survey of 5,700 beekeepers from 48 states across the nation. The survey found we are up to 44% total annual honeybee loss, the highest it’s been in the last three years. According to the American Beekeeping Federation, some crops like blueberries and cherries depend on honeybees for 90% of their pollination needs while others, like almond crops, depend entirely on the honeybee. There are around $2.66 million in commercially managed honeybee colonies serving the aforementioned contribution these pollinators make to our economy and general welfare.

    Enter OSU’s Research
    Imagining a world without melons, apples, broccoli, and even cocoa is, well, it’s just too much to bear. Although this sounds horrible, and it is, the OSU Honey Bee Lab is here to help.

    The Honey Bee Lab, in its current form, was started by Dr. Ramesh Sagili in 2009 in order to study honeybee health and nutrition. In addition to research, the lab offers extension office services, training events, and hosts the Oregon Master Beekeeper program whilst maintaining around 80 bee colonies on campus. Research Assistant and Master Beekeeper Program Coordinator Carolyn Breece explains that they need so many colonies to ensure the studies they conduct have meaningful results.

    Why Honeybees Die, How to Save Them
    According to Breece, the question most frequently asked is “Why do my honeybees die?” With colony collapse at an all-time high, that is both a very relevant question and a hard one to answer. “It used to be easy [to keep bees] before the introduction of the varroa mite in the 1980s,” explained Breece. “People have these great stories of honeybee colonies in the backyard that hardly ever had to be managed.” Unfortunately with the spread of varroa mites, pollinator-inconsiderate pesticide use, and issues of nutritional deficiency and starvation, the honeybee has suffered heavily.

    “What I really like to tell people after all this gloom-and-doom is that even though we have all these problems, this is probably the best time to be a honeybee,” said Breece. This is because there are a number of research labs, non-profit organizations, and citizen-scientists writing articles, doing studies, and getting the information out to the public. According to Breece, “It’s not easy, but I think we are helping it become easier for people by offering educational programs.”

    An increased interest in planting native habitats, pollinator-attracting plants, and ensuring there are resources available for bees in the landscape has been one response. Fresh research from the Honey Bee Lab supports these endeavors. Students in the lab have found links between nutrition and supplemental protein feeding and the bees’ ability to resist, or at least survive, infections like Nosema apis. “If they are on a monocrop for a long period of time, then that is all they have, so they don’t have a diverse diet,” explained Breece, “[but] when bees are better fed and have better nutrition, they have better survival rates.”

    A different response has been to limit, change, or otherwise be considerate of the pesticides used in the landscape and agricultural settings. In fact a brand-spanking-new study from the Honey Bee Lab has focused on the interaction of two different pesticides on bee colonies in the field. “Not very many of the pesticide studies are in the field. They take bees and put them in cages and do lab trials,” said Breece. The lab team is pretty excited to publish this study because while we cannot expect the agricultural sector to drop pesticides altogether, there is great value in understanding how different pesticides at varying concentrations will affect colonies.

    The Future
    Given that the future of humankind is inextricably tied to that of the honeybee, OSU’s Honey Bee Lab is likely to remain a busy place in future years. The plan is to continue monitoring migratory commercial bee colonies that travel between almond groves in California up through blueberry patches in Oregon, publishing articles for both the extension office and research lab, and putting together events in the community.

    While there are still questions surrounding what is happening to honeybee colonies and what can be done about it, the increasingly daunting mystery may have more to do with our resistance against new practices. Science is hard, but if history is any indicator, pesticide change is even harder.

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • Attack of the… Zombees?
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    zombie_beeOne of the worst ways to die would surely be getting parasitized by Apocephalus borealis, aka the zombie fly.

    If you were a honeybee, carpenter bee, or paper wasp, the zombie fly would pursue and assail you on sight. The attack would be akin to assault with a deadly weapon as the zombie fly would force its razor-sharp ovipositor through the cuticula between the segments of your abdomen before excreting eggs into your viscera. Then it’s only a matter of time.

    Over the next week, you would slowly lose your mind. Up to 13 larvae would begin chewing through your muscles and nervous system, causing ponderous movements and disorientation. You might start ambulating in circles mumbling, or sleep the day away only to gravitate towards artificial lights on dark and rainy nights. As the larvae continued to masticate into your brain, your behaviors would become increasingly erratic, eventually causing you to venture into the darkness, never to return.

    In the last moments of life, if you were still conscious, you might feel the engorged larvae pulsing through your body towards your neck. Pressure would build up until the segments between your head and thorax bulged, then split wide open. Mature zombie fly larvae would undulate from your lifeless body to spend the next 28 days pupating.

    Then the life cycle would be complete.

    FYI, these guys live here in Oregon. Check out www.zombeewatch.org for a map of zombee sightings and info on how you can become a Zombee Hunter.

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • The Buzz About Rogue Bees
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    Rogue Farms Bees bee boxesPart of the sweetness people taste in their favorite beers comes from honey, and that honey is of course produced by honeybees. More than 7,000 honeybees are said to be some of the hardest workers at Rogue Farms in Independence, OR.

    Most Oregonians—heck, most people—are familiar with the Rogue name. While the Rogue Ales Brewery and national headquarters are located in Newport on the Oregon Coast, Rogue Farms is situated on an idyllic plot of land along the waters of the Willamette River, just a 30-minute drive from Corvallis.

    A delightful variety of natural goods is grown at Rogue Farms, helping to “Grow the Revolution,” as their slogan puts it. Rogue-grown products include everything from jalapeno peppers and hazelnuts (used in their popular Hazelnut Brown Nectar) to pumpkins, malted barley, rye, and hops—all the makings of good beer.

    Rogue Farms began keeping bees in 2012, and the busy, buzzing crew has grown to 7,140,289 honeybees, according to their last count. The healthy and thriving hives are cared for by an experienced beekeeper, and the Rogue honeybees not only help in making “revolutionary proprietary ingredients,” they are major players in orchard pollination.

    Rogue says they wouldn’t be farmers or brewers if it weren’t for bees. The honeybees pollinate the marionberries, pumpkins, cucumbers, and more, and they collect nectar and make honey, which showcases the terroir of Rogue Farms. The honey made by the Rogue bees is used in the Honey Kolsch and Marionberry Braggot beers and Rogue sodas.

    As an example of how the pollination process works, the hive is placed next to flowering crops, such as marionberries—the hives apparently love these sweet, tiny berries. The honeybees get to work foraging as soon as the white flowers begin to pop open.

    Foraging for nectar and pollen doesn’t stop at flowering marionberries, either. These 7,000-plus honeybees have a wide variety of food sources to snack on during the honey-growing season. They buzz around, visiting cherry, apple, pear, and other tree blossoms during the spring months.

    The Rogue honeybees also get to travel outside of Oregon. The bees are transported to sunny California for several months each winter for a “working vacation.” Freezing rain, which is often part of the winter weather patterns here in the Willamette Valley, isn’t an ideal situation for honeybees. For the last two years, Rogue has sent their bees south for winter to assist in almond pollination. According to Rogue, making this trip can also help maintain colony numbers and the strength of a hive.

    The transportation process is one that is delicate, careful, and incredibly well-thought-out.

    Rogue (human) workers transfer the honeybees onto pallets, which are then loaded on a flatbed truck and covered with netting. The transfer is done at night while the bees are warm in their hives. The honeybees then take a non-stop journey until they arrive at their California destination. The 600-mile, one-shot trip helps keep the bees from getting lost along the way, according to Rogue.

    After a few months of R&R (and snacking on flowering almond blossoms), the bees make their way back to Independence for spring snacking, and the pollination process starts all over again. Rogue Farms likes to take exceptional care of their buzzing buddies who work so hard to produce award-winning honey. My, what a sweet story it is.

    By Abbie Tumbleson

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  • Nectar Creek: Craft Meads to Remember
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    Nectar Creek-beach bottlesFor many people, honey is a beloved ingredient. The sublimely golden liquid sweetens up teas. It’s a gooey staple in desserts like baklava. And, as the headlining ingredient in mead, honey morphs into a deliciously drinkable beverage through the brewing process.

    A pair of brothers from Corvallis can take credit for introducing a variety of craft meads to the area.

    Phil and Nick Lorenz, the co-founders of Nectar Creek, specialize in producing session and barrel-aged meads. They started the business back in 2012, with a strong focus on using only locally sourced ingredients and top-quality honey varieties from suppliers throughout the Willamette Valley to create refreshing, original recipes.

    “The biggest and most important part of making mead that we really take pride in is using raw, unfiltered honey,” said Phil.

    The older Lorenz brother started working as a beekeeper for Queen Bee Honey Company, also in Corvallis, when he was taking a year off between high school and college. From there, Phil said he fell in love with beekeeping, the magic of bees, and the world of honey. While the brothers don’t currently manage their own hives, Phil said they’d like to return to beekeeping, in addition to making meads, sometime in the future.

    Not sure what mead is? Phil explained that it all starts out by mixing honey and water. The process of making mead isn’t necessarily complicated, but he pointed out it is indeed a process that is technical and specific.

    “The fermentation process is delicate. We have to add nutrients throughout the brewing process and really watch the pH because yeast is sensitive,” he said. “Once the mead is done fermenting, we filter it and force-carbonate it. Then it’s bottled and packaged.”

    While first-time mead drinkers might expect the libation to be heavy and very sweet, Nectar Creek’s line of products are surprisingly light, well-balanced, and effervescent.

    Phil has been enjoying Cluster, which is one of Nectar Creek’s newest meads, made using a mixture of real cranberries and strawberries. “I like all our meads,” said Phil, “but typically my fallback mead is Waggle. It’s the pure goodness of honey.” Waggle is made with wildflowers, and captures what Nectar Creek refers to as “the essence of the Willamette Valley.”

    To take in a true taste of the Willamette Valley and all its honey varieties, fruits, and wildflowers, visit the Nectar Creek tasting room, located at 33848 SE Eastgate Circle in Corvallis. The tasting room is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.

    By Abbie Tumbleson

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  • Arts Walk Slated for May 19
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    BuswellBarefoot blues dancers busting moves in paint, count us in. From high school student art to a visit from Seattle painter Juliet Shen, add a few other drizzles of awesome sauce to this month’s Arts Walk and you have a tasty evening. Just where are the prime morsels…?  Well, read on my dear reader, read on.

    Madison Avenue

    700 SW Madison Ave. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Sumi Ink Club: A fun, shared, unplanned drawing with sumi ink, made with small brushes on a long roll of paper, that everybody owns. Build on what others did before, creating new beginnings. It is an ever-changing, ever-evolving, communal work of art. Although it is mostly about the process, it also gives an amazing result.

    460 SW Madison Ave., Ste. 16
    5 to 8 p.m.

    Temporal Painting. Flowers, leaves, nuts, and grain are treated like brushstrokes of light, texture, and color in this exhibit of temporal painting photographs. Using motors, pulleys, and compressed air as brushes, the unique qualities of natural materials are captured via photography.

    425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. J1
    4 to 8 p.m.

    This gallery starts a seven-month-long series exploring the color wheel, starting with green. GREEN into focus. Greens in grass, trees, and the flecks in the eyes of the people we see. Inspired by the new growth that May brings, seven artists will be exhibiting.

    STUDIO262 • 425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. H-1 • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Opening reception for the photography show From Our View, featuring the work of local students in grades 6 to 12. Music provided by local high school musicians.

    425 SW Madison Ave. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Features drawings by accomplished local artist Alice Marshall.

    354 SW Madison Ave. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    WuXing refers to the five interacting forces of Chinese cosmology. By basing each painting on one of these forces—wood, fire, earth, metal, or water—artist Juliet Shen says, “I am free to experiment with abstract texture and pattern, color and connotation. The little size is important to my process, not only because I like to work with small brushes and richly pigmented inks, but because the snapshot composition is so liberating. Shen is a Seattle painter. She holds a master’s degree in typeface design from the University of Reading, England, and creates work that utilizes a symbiosis between her drawing and typographic skills.

    2nd Street

    209 SW 2nd St. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Natural Woman is an exciting new show by Katheryn Byram featuring sculptures created from found objects. Byram’s work is inspired by nature. Refreshments.

    341 SW 2nd St. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    The Other Oregon. A look east to views of Oregon. Just beyond the valley bowl await big skies and deep valleys and breathtaking topography and wild horses, rendered appreciatively by artists Karen Miller, Sarah Strohmeyer, Bill Shumway, and several local photographers.

    CYRANO’S • 361 SW 2nd St.
    4 to 8 p.m.

    OHNA: Japanese dyed silks, hosting Siobhan Clancy-Burns. Silk scarves dyed in the tradition of Japanese Shibori patterns of Arashi and Itajime.

    301 SW Madison Ave. #100
    4 to 8 p.m.

    View this artist’s new work created at a Shotpouch Creek Cabin retreat and inspired by the land and wildlife, including works painted with grass, moss, and horsetail. See vintage material created into mixed media paintings featuring lush overgrowth.

    THE RABBIT HOLE (Laurel Thompson & Rachel Urista Studio)
    340 SW 2nd St. #12 • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Dance-Painting: a special performance art event. Local blues dancers will be visiting this studio from 7 to 8 p.m. to get their feet a little dirty… with paint! Rachel Urista’s colorful paintings, finished and unfinished, will also be on display.

    Campus, 6th Street, 4th Street

    Fairbanks Hall, OSU, 220 SW 26th St.
    5 to 6:45 p.m.

    No Sky. Ben Buswell, award-winning sculptor and multimedia artist, will exhibit embellished photographs, mixed media drawings, sculpture, and acrylic on canvas. Buswell’s work is temporal in nature, spanning a variety of media from ceramics to incised photographs, using processes such as doubling and repetitive mark-making.

    230 NW 6th St. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Inky Fingers features an array of original, hand-pulled prints from a diverse group of printmakers (no giclees or reproductions). A special surprise from the Cascade Print Exchange will be displayed, with live music from Marshall Adams. Refreshment including libations by Kathi from Spindrift.

    ArtWorks GALLERY (CEI)
    408 SW Monroe St., Ste. 110
    4 to 8 p.m.

    Anna Fidler’s Telepathy Quilt and Two Stars, and Dessert Desert by Tropical Contemporary.

    See www.corvallisartswalk.com for more information. Azure Gallery plans to be open, but had no further information at press time.

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  • Breaking Free from Oil: Northwest’s Attention-Hungry Activists
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    activismAcross the globe people are increasingly confronted with the direct impacts of industrial pollution and climate change. With increasing pressure from the fossil fuel industry to expand operations in the Pacific Northwest, an equal but opposite kickback from regional communities is beginning to take place. For these reasons, the Break Free from Fossil Fuels Campaign has sponsored “a two-week global wave of escalated action to keep coal, oil, and gas in the ground.” The Break Free PDX chapter will be holding a weekend of activities, workshops, speakers, trainings, and nonviolent direct action from Friday, May 13 to Sunday, May 15 in Anacortes, Washington.

    Their overall goal? To ensure that governments uphold the commitments of the Paris World Climate Agreement, signed by 175 nations on Earth Day to limit emissions and stay below 1.5°C of warming to prevent catastrophic ecosystem failures. However, more than simply protesting further fossil fuel development, the Break Free Campaign is concerned with the representation of marginalized communities and those that would suffer as a result of a complete energy industry overhaul. Ultimately, they seek to begin a serious discussion among politicians and industry leaders as to what a “just transition” into a clean economy would look like.

    Environmentally marginalized communities take many forms. Whether located near processing facilities, disposal facilities, along transportation routes, due to economic limitations, or the fact that the community’s survival depends on jobs created by the industry, we need a real plan for transitioning. According to the Break Free website, around six million Americans depend on the fossil fuel industry directly or indirectly for their livelihoods. If we are to actually break free, leaders here and abroad must mindfully deal with these issues.

    Break Free has organized a number of events all over the world this month. Actions will be taking place in Germany, the UK, Canada, Turkey, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines, and New Zealand. In fact, in the United States alone, actions are taking place in California, Washington, Colorado, New York, Illinois, and Washington, DC. With over 40 coalition member groups including 350 Corvallis and Corvallis Rising Tide, over 1,900 supporting individuals from the Pacific Northwest, and at least 500 of those willing to risk arrest, you can bet this will be one entertaining event.

    Getting arrested not your thing? Me neither, but Saturday is the “It’s in Our Hands” Indigenous Day of Action. This part of the event will kick off with a “Procession for Future Generations” in which attendees will march along Fidalgo Bay in front of the Tesoro and Shell refineries demanding that we both seek new energy solutions and find solutions for those whose livelihoods depend on the fossil fuel industry. Once arriving at March Point, tribal speakers will take the stage followed by tribal musicians, singing and drumming, and finally a salmon dinner at the Transit Shed on the north end of town.

    There will be a flotilla of canoes, kayaks, and boats that will paddle up the bay to witness an indigenous water ceremony before returning to land and joining the rest of the activities. Boats will be available for those in need.

    Bottom line—these folks have big plans, and will not be ignored. Whether you are a blossoming direct action activist, environmental enthusiast, a member of an impacted community, or just looking for a good time, check out the Break Free three-day event this weekend. The brass tacks are this: like anything else, it’s not going to get done until we sit down and do it. By putting our minds together, we are already creating an alternative source of energy—transformative energy. And that’s no joke.

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • In Depth with Corvallis Rep. Dan Rayfield
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    rayfield2Steeped in a culture of action movies and good vs. evil plot lines, it can be difficult to peg a real leader when not suited in battle armor or pontificating before the masses. Tyrion Lannister, State Representative Dan Rayfield’s favorite fictional figurehead, is 53 inches of leadership and he does it through intellect and hard work. Moreover he operates in the moment from a base of internal values that allow him to be humorful rather than deceitful and (in most cases) understanding instead of petty.

    Rayfield has this feel to him. He seems driven by similar ideals and by acting on the opportunities that have presented themselves, he finds himself in the roles of family man, business owner, and state representative. Not large in physical stature, he is highly energetic.

    Sworn in on Jan. 15, 2015, Rayfield has hit the ground running and, in many ways, reset the bar for joining the Democratic caucus. Rayfield was not only awarded a gavel his first year, he was also elected to the leadership role of House Majority Whip by his peers. Rayfield simultaneously runs an attorney office through the Nelson, MacNeil, Rayfield Trial Attorneys PC to which he has become a full-fledged partner. When finally we consider his wife and their four-year-old son Adam, the question of how he fits all of this into any given day kind of asks itself.

    “You have to be flexible and any free time you get, you take advantage of it and it’s just a matter of prioritizing the things in your day,” said Rayfield.

    In order to get the full picture, it is worth noting that Rayfield first ran for State Senate in 2010. Although he was not elected, neither was he defeated. “It was a competitive race and that gave me a real insight into how you start thinking about this,” explained Rayfield. Between the 2010 and 2014 elections, Rayfield had been planning the organization and functionality of his future office, all while developing relationships within the community including former senators and other state offices.

    A day in the life of Rayfield can indeed look pretty hectic, especially during a short legislative session. The alarm sounds off at 5 a.m. and Rayfield slips into the clothes he laid out the night before. After slamming some rolled oats and Grape-Nuts, it’s off to the SamFit. After connecting with clients via Bluetooth during the commute, Rayfield arrives in the capitol at 8 a.m.

    Once in Salem, Rayfield meets with staff, committees, or depending on the day, does Whip Check-ins. This continues until 10 or 11 a.m. when the entire Democratic caucus meets. During this time there are presentations, issue forecasting, and time for making sure the whole team is on the same page and moving towards their overall goals.

    The floor session in which most people are at their desks as they go over bills passed in committee is next. As a leader, Rayfield sits in the back where he can keep tabs on everyone and make sure there are enough Democrats on the floor at any given time. He also roves between the 35 other members to gauge their interest in a given bill and learn of any concerns whilst maintaining knowledge of the greater debate at hand.

    Then comes a short break. Rayfield explained that “generally speaking, you have about half an hour to grab a quick bite to eat; often you are cutting that short because you crammed a few meetings into your lunch as you are always maintaining trying to be accessible.”

    After lunch, it is time for committee meetings. Rayfield serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety, vice-chair of the Committee of Consumer Protection and Government Efficiency, and a member of the House Committee on Rules. This takes about an hour and a half, then the rest of the day until 5 p.m. is spent in meetings of which there can be in excess of seven a day. Only, since Rayfield is in a leadership role, he has one more leadership meeting letting out between 6 and 8 p.m.

    Needless to say this lifestyle requires considerable discipline, but where is all this motivation coming from? Like Tyrion, Rayfield’s father was a leader in the armed services and a successful businessman. His mother was an advocate for progress that brought him along to protests and to feed the homeless. “As I grew up, I’ve always had this drive inside of me that we can always make this better, we can always do better.” Rayfield explained that as a kid, his family planned for the future and acted in leadership roles and this helped instill these values in him.

    These values were certainly recognized by his peers when Rayfield was elected to House Majority Whip after exercising his reputation for bringing sides together during a $30 million ODFW shortfall in 2015. “Using principals of looking at interspace negotiation we were able to bring more than 25 to 30 stakeholder groups to the table and come to a solution that was in everybody’s interest—and it was a bipartisan solution,” said Rayfield. In doing so, he gained the respect of colleagues and ultimately created his own endorsement just by keeping his head down and working hard.

    “First off, [being Whip] adds more to your schedule,” said Rayfield, “so there are other types of duties—events that I will go to and be a part of.” But there is the intangible element of taking more leadership in the caucus as well. Examples include helping other members with their campaigns, traveling to other districts, fundraising, and listening. This latter part is vitally important.

    “Not everybody goes through a legislative session, or quite frankly the interim, in perfect spirits, so we need to be in tune with what’s going on for folks,” said Rayfield. Team-building is also a major focus, and with potentially 10 new incoming members—that is one-third of the current Democratic caucus—Rayfield is working on intern programs and workshops to get everyone on the same page.

    Overall Rayfield’s time in the legislature has been a source of continual growth and learning. “I almost liken it to a new magician, and this is odd, because when I was younger I wanted to be a magician,” said Rayfield. His comparison was that of sleight of hand. At first, you are so caught up in the mechanics that you don’t look natural, your movements are not refined, and you cannot speak while doing it.

    “Later on when you really understand and master the basics and principals, then things become a little bit more refined. That’s when you’re able to be comfortable with yourself and talk,” said Rayfield. “It’s kind of the transition that I think a legislator has where they shift from being very mechanical to being able to come from that values-based decision.”

    An example of one of these values-based decisions took place last legislative session. Rayfield and others set their minds to upholding the needs of workers who had been locked out of their jobs. A lockout is basically an inverse strike where the employer closes its doors to the employees. The problem is that said employees only have six months unemployment. To make matters worse, finding new jobs is often difficult, especially considering many of the workers would willingly return to their jobs if they could. As Rayfield put it, they are basically stuck in a state of limbo.

    Despite some ups and downs, they managed to come to a bipartisan solution that extended unemployment benefits for an additional six months. At the session’s end, 30 to 40 locked-out steel workers and their families came down to the floor to show their gratitude. “That’s why you run for office right there, it was an amazing moment,” said Rayfield. “It was also unique because they took me into their group, so I was emotionally connected to them.” It was what could be called a win-win-win situation.

    Having achieved so much so quickly, one can only wonder where fortune will take Rayfield next. While there was some mention of Ambassador to the Bahamas, Rayfield explained that “if opportunities are there, I’d like to be able to have worked hard enough to be able to make a decision on whatever path presents itself later in life.” So long as the dynamic is working for his family, Rayfield is content to keep his head down, work hard, and—in between catching the latest Game of Thrones episode with his wife—“provide the absolute best representation out of any office.”

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • Rental Scams Abound: Watch Out for These Warning Signs
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    for-rentSearching for a new apartment is never easy. There are so many things to consider. How many bedrooms do you want? Is the property pet-friendly? And a question that is becoming more and more important: is the listing even real?

    The Internet abounds with rental scams, and if you’ve been looking for a place to live recently, no doubt you’ve seen at least one. Some can be easy to spot, but others can be devilishly sneaky. However, there are a few consistent aspects to a rental scam that can help you avoid them.

    First of all, the scammer will never give you a tour (although one may be offered). You will never meet a real person. Avoid putting down any money or sending any personal information before someone lets you inside the property. If you are given a tour, that means the person you are talking to has the key—something a scammer can’t get.

    Most scams are designed to mine for profitable information, which is why you need to hang onto your personal details until you’re sure something is the real deal. The rental application they provide may ask for odd bits of personal information, like a driver’s license number, a photo, or even a credit report. While some of these might be OK and even standard to give out, at the very least only hand them over to a person you have physically met. By sharing this kind of information online, you may end up with fraudulent credit card charges or even full-on identity theft.

    A few of the scams I have personally encountered gave fairly compelling reasons why an inside look at the property was off the table. One claimed that the owner recently had a medical emergency and was still recovering. Another suggested filling out the application, along with bogus credit check, ahead of time, because it would be a week until the owner came back from a business trip to show the property. When you really need a new place it’s easy to fall into these sorts of traps, but you must remain vigilant.

    When it comes down to it, the easiest way to spot a rental scam is simply to apply a healthy dose of skepticism. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scam listings will often undercut market prices by several hundred dollars to get more attention. They will offer fresh remodels with your choice of paint job. Pay attention to the pictures with the listing. Often they will directly contradict the scammer’s description. Try copy/pasting some of the text from the response email of a suspected scam. If you get a match in Google, other people have seen that exact same email, and it’s definitely a scam.

    Heading out protected against these criminals is the quickest way to find your new place. Happy hunting!

    By Kyle Bunnell

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  • Alternative Birthing in Corvallis
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    MeyerAltBirthThe decisions surrounding pregnancy and birth are some of the most important decisions women make in their lifetime, and can set a precedent for the health and well-being of themselves and their families. Women often attempt to balance their own personal beliefs and values with pressure from doctors and family members who may have more experience or education. This attempt at balance can easily turn into compromise. Compromising one’s own needs can lead to an uncomfortable or unsatisfying birth experience, which is difficult to recover from both physically and mentally.

    Expectant mothers deserve to have options and opportunities to educate themselves so they feel confident and respected throughout their pregnancy and beyond. For many, this involves an experience outside of a hospital. Luckily, our community is full of resources and support for those interested in alternative birth, prenatal and postpartum care.

    Holly Horan, a certified birth and postpartum doula and instructor at Oregon State University, has been providing doula services in the Corvallis area since 2012. She describes the role of a doula as a non-clinical provider who supports and informs women before, during, and after birth. Those who feel intimidated by the process or who would simply feel more comfortable having an educated, experienced guide behind all their decisions—particularly those in their first pregnancy—can benefit immensely from doula services.

    There are many local doulas who are more than willing to answer questions regarding natural childbirth and alternative postpartum care. Horan explained why limited interventions are becoming increasingly part of our birthing community. “Women are understanding the benefits of alternative, natural birth. It is a transformative experience, and we have been doing it for thousands of years.”

    As far as concerns go, Horan said the concept of safety dominates the argument on both sides of the spectrum. “Some people feel reassured by an obstetric setting. Others believe an obstetric environment may be compromising their safety. Women should assess their own health and risks, and through education, decide what type of support they need and want.”

    Although it ultimately comes down to personal preference, there are many studies which demonstrate very similar degrees of safety in low-risk pregnancies for both mom and baby in hospital, birth centers, and home births. Medical interventions are often not necessary, and can lead to additional invasive procedures. A 2014 study by the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, which examined 17,000 cases of midwife-led births, “confirmed that among low-risk women, planned home births result in low rates of intervention without an increase in adverse outcome for mothers and babies.”

    Horan works at the International Reproductive Health Lab at OSU, which is both a student and community center full of graduated professionals, midwives, and doulas committed to answering questions and providing support on all aspects of reproductive health. They are available every weekday and are a great resource for those considering different birthing options.

    Another valuable community resource is the MidValley Birth Network, which publishes a free, thorough resource guide called The Push. The Push is full of contact information for local midwives, doulas, birth educators, breastfeeding support, postpartum support, and much more. All members of the network, whether they be hospitals, birth centers, or home birth services pledge to be mother-friendly and agree to 10 philosophical principles. These principles, focused on natural and supportive care, can be found in The Push guide, located in several spots around town including the Corvallis Library and First Alternative Co-op.

    Melissa Meyer, mother of three and president of the MidValley Birth Network, believes the biggest decision pregnant women make throughout their journey is their care provider. “There are choices,” said Meyer. “Many women think they have to pick a doctor and do what that doctor tells them and that is just not true.” Meyer is confident that women can make the best decisions regarding their own birth experience. “The only way we are going to initiate change is to stand up for what we believe. Women are becoming more educated about the cascade of interventions and they want to take charge of their birth.”

    Meyer believes women should birth where they are most comfortable, whether it be in a hospital, birth center, or at home. “Birth is 90% in your head and 10% in your body,” she said. “If you are not comfortable, you won’t have the best birth.”

    Join Meyer for her 10-week Birth Boot Camp class for first- and second-time parents interested in natural birth and education on interventions and procedures. Also, consider attending the MidValley Birth Network’s third annual Baby’s Birth and Families Wellness Fair on Saturday, July 9 at the Starker Arts Park in Corvallis, free and open to the community. For info, check out their website, www.midvalleybirthnetwork.com, or contact Melissa at mmeyer@birthbootcamp.com. To reach the International Reproductive Health Lab, contact Melissa Cheyney at 541-737-3895 or visit the HUB in Waldo Hall on Oregon State’s campus.

    By Sarah Nieminski

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  • Family Attorney Lorena Reynolds Speaks Surrogacy
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    Reynolds1For some couples or single individuals, creating a family isn’t easy. Those who experience reproductive trouble or are simply uninterested in the traditional route of childbearing often turn to alternatives such as donation, surrogacy, or adoption, all involving complex laws best handled alongside an attorney.

    Such topics are among the vast range of family law matters attorney Lorena Reynolds deals with while managing the Reynolds Law Firm in Corvallis. Reynolds received her degree from UCLA School of Law in 1997 and has been in private practice in Corvallis for 12 years.

    In pursuing the topic of surrogacy, our Advocate reporters had significant trouble getting anyone with experience to speak up. To Reynolds, this comes as no surprise, given the high stakes for those involved, who likely don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the outcome of having a child, especially by having an outsider getting close to their contract. According to Reynolds, the tension around the subject may be because “the legality of surrogacy contracts isn’t really clear.”

    Drafting surrogacy contracts can be an expensive and intensive process, involving heavy negotiation. According to Reynolds, parties “need to outline and have conversations in much the same way as a premarital agreement.” Couples and individuals must mull over what could go wrong, and make compromises regarding each person’s expectations, to establish the best possible outcome for all involved.

    Some parties are more casual in their approach to surrogacy. These cases typically involve a family member or friend who has graciously opted to carry the child. “The more arm’s-length the transaction is, the more formal it tends to be,” said Reynolds. In these cases, Reynolds often sees people with “such optimism, they don’t anticipate how complex things can get.” Reynolds warns that individuals unaware of what could go wrong might run into complex legal issues—or worse, wind up in custody court.

    Custody can become an issue especially in “traditional” surrogacy arrangements, where the sperm comes from a male partner in the adoptive household and the eggs from the surrogate, as opposed to “gestational carrier” cases, where embryos consisting of some combination of the intended parents’ and donors’ sperm and eggs is transferred to the carrier or surrogate. If a surrogate in a traditional arrangement has a change of heart or isn’t prepared for the emotional intensity of bearing a child, these “heartbreaking, hard cases,” as Reynolds describes them, end with “babies born into traditional custody battles that don’t look so traditional [in court].”

    Reynolds references the trend toward surrogate mothers who have families of their own or prior experience with pregnancy, as opposed to women without birthing experience, who have less appreciation for the emotional complexity involved. Luckily, adoptive parents, surrogates, and birth families have time to weigh and work through all the issues that may arise. Presently, the wait period for uncontested adoption averages around six months.

    Those pursuing adoption or surrogacy should prepare thoroughly and thoughtfully. They should also feel no shame in going the nontraditional route. “People do what they need to do to have babies,” said Reynolds. “You can’t judge somebody for doing it in an informal way.”

    By Stevie Beisswanger

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  • Mountaineering School Promises Epic Treks
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    Grand Teton AfternoonWhen I first overheard my friend say, “I got accepted into the Mountain Man course,” questions began to form in my brain: “How is there a class for being a mountain man?” and “Where can I sign up?”

    Now imagine a class that backpacks through Washington’s North Cascades for 29 days. This is a reality with the North Cascades Mountaineering course offered through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). In this course, 10 lucky students, with the aid of two instructors, travel through the North Cascades and encounter deep valleys, jagged peaks, vast glaciers, and cascading waterfalls. During the expedition students have the opportunity to hone their mountaineering prowess by learning technical skills, developing a sense for leadership, engaging in environmental studies, and practicing risk management in the wilderness. The best part? This course is just one of about 20 courses offered yearly by NOLS.

    Founded in Lander, Wyoming in 1965, NOLS has graduated more than 290,000 students in the past 50-plus years. They offer courses of various lengths in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, New Zealand, Patagonia, East Africa, India, and the Yukon.

    “We require no previous experience for most all of our courses. A great place to start would be our classic Wind River Wilderness course in Wyoming. This is the original program that launched the school over 50 years ago,” said Mike Casella, the school’s marketing representative and an alumnus.

    The longest NOLS course is in Patagonia and lasts a whopping 135 days for only $28,645, while the shortest will find you in Wolf Ridge, Minnesota, spending just five days and $450. Don’t let the higher prices of some of the courses scare you off, because anyone enrolled for a course is eligible for the NOLS Scholarship. In 2015 alone NOLS awarded $1.7 million in scholarship aid. Each standalone course and section averages 10 to 12 students and one or two instructors. Most courses are co-ed unless enrollment is trending heavily toward one gender.

    “I have taken three NOLS courses as a student: a Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator with Wilderness First Responder, an Alaska Mountaineering – Prime, and a Denali Mountaineering alumni course. I learned an incredible amount of transferable skills. I developed technical skills including setting ice and snow anchors, crevasse rescue, rope management, technical glacier travel in a rope team, river crossings, as well as glacier terrain navigation,” Casella said.

    It takes a special instructor to be able to teach in different terrains, especially when it’s a matter of life and death. That’s why becoming a NOLS instructor is anything but simple and requires many skills. Instructors must have competency in the backcountry, technical skills, personal experience, teaching experience, leadership communication experience, sound judgment, and—perhaps most important—the ability to manage risks. All NOLS instructors have at least a Wilderness First Responder certification, which is an 80-hour wilderness medicine certification; others choose to have Wilderness EMT as well. In addition, NOLS instructors must complete a 35-day training course and must teach a higher level mountaineering course.

    The process of being accepted as a student isn’t as difficult. The admissions process includes providing basic information, passing a health examination performed by a medical professional, and having that form reviewed and cleared internally by NOLS staff. A student must accept the assumption of risk, and provide proof of health insurance, a transcript, and some additional student information.

    Now please excuse me while I gather the required documents to enroll in NOLS. After all, summer is coming up and time shouldn’t be a problem. The real question is: who doesn’t want to be a mountain man?

    To learn more or register for a course, visit http://www.nols.edu./

    By Liz Sterling

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