Vote dooms 4-H: 'Lot of tears this morning'

EUGENE, Ore. -- Wednesday was Paisley Makinson's 16th birthday, but she's not in the mood to celebrate.

"I'm having a really hard time," Makinson said.

Makinson is one of 450 Lane County students active in 4-H, a program that will end Sept. 30. Voters turned down a tax measure, taking away all 4-H funding.

"When the results came out I bawled my eyes out," Makinson said.

The measure would have also funded the OSU Extension Service in Lane County for five more years. The Eugene office will now have to close. Steve Dodrill is the staff chair. He said it's been a rough day.    

"Lot of tears this morning," Dodrill said.

Four faculty members will be re-located to other OSU offices. Locally supported staff may be laid off. Master Gardeners, Master Food Preservers, Climate Masters, Compost Specialist and the Extension Study Group will also end.
Dodrill said the Eugene office helps 65,000 people a year. Private funding is an option but even that has challenges.

"We have facilities here that serve all of those programs and have shared infrastructure costs," said Dodrill. "So if only one program for instance is saved, the costs of saving that program are going to be much higher if only one program is saved."

Makinson still has one more big event to prepare for, the 4-H Youth Fair in July.

"It's just going to be devastating," Makinson said. "Every corner I turn, I'm just going to remember, it's over this year."

To be clear, the federally funded nutrition education program will not end although it needs a new home now. The tax would have been ten dollars a year for every $200,000 of property value.