Impact Reports


WSU Extension serves the residents of Washington State by creating and delivering targeted research-based knowledge and education. It’s a mission the organization and its dedicated specialists have refined over the past century. Part of that process is communicating results.

These reports provide accounts of how our programs empower participants to better their lives. We hope the reports inspire you to join at least one of our courses or events, share your story, and provide feedback. Your involvement will help us improve our responsiveness and reach more individuals.


Food $ense: Nutrition Education in Clark County

In 2014, 15.8% of Washington’s population received basic food assistance. Twelve percent of Clark County residents face challenges in meeting basic needs including adequate and healthy food. Clark County ranks 6th in the state for the highest number of people living in poverty. Only 26% of Clark County residents eat fruits and vegetables every day and 53.6% engage in regular daily physical activity. Though the population is fairly active, 25.8% of Clark County’s population is obese and 35.5% are overweight. Consequently, they are at increased risk for nutrition-related health issues and chronic disease. Compared to other income levels, low-income families consume fewer fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk, and more high-fat foods, sweetened beverages, and other non-nutritive foods. Many lack the skills to select and prepare healthful foods within their income. In schools with a high percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced meals, attendance and test scores suffer. Thirty of 43 elementary schools in 3 of Clark County’s 9 school districts have between 52% and 89% of the students receiving free or reduce breakfast and lunches.
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Food $ense: Nutrition Education in Cowlitz County

In 2014, 15.8% of Washington’s population received basic food assistance. Cowlitz County ranks third in the state with 25% of its population receiving food assistance. Having limited income puts these families at risk for consuming foods with low nutritional quality and getting less physical activity. Consequently, they are at increased risk for nutritional-related health issues including obesity and chronic disease. Youth in these families are not getting adequate nutrition or meals that help them perform well in school. In schools with a high percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced meals, attendance and test scores suffer. At 8 of the 14 elementary schools in Cowlitz County, 50% or more of the population receives free or reduced breakfasts and lunches.

Beginning Farmer Programs at WSU

Declining farm numbers and an aging farmer population highlight the urgent need to support new entry farmers in Washington. Almost half of all Washington farmers are over age 60 and less than 5% are younger than age 35 (2012 USDA Census of Agriculture). A significant transfer of farming knowledge, skills, and assets to the next generation will be necessary for Washington agriculture to remain vibrant. However, new and aspiring farmers face myriad challenges, including acquiring production and business knowledge and skills, securing profitable markets, and gaining access to affordable land, water, and equipment. Beginning farmers tend to have limited access to capital and start small in terms of acreage and sales. On the last agricultural census, more than 75% of beginning farmers operated fewer than 50 acres and had sales under $10,000. Beginning farmers also are more likely to be women or immigrants than established farmers.

WSU Beef 300 Program: Intensive Training for Beef Producers

Meat animal production is a significant part of the Washington State economy. According to 2013 data, cattle and calves ranked fifth among all Washington commodities with a value of $706 million (National Ag Statistics Service). From niche producers to large-scale commercial operators and packing plants, livestock producers, managers, and employees are seeking information to gain a better understanding of the food production chain from farm to table. For Washington producers to maintain livestock profitability and competitiveness within the U.S. and worldwide, training needs to be provided on meat quality, value-based pricing, and the use of new technologies and the latest research to address critical and emerging issues, regulations, food safety, and quality standards.

Biocontrol of Noxious Weeds

Washington State is facing an invasion of non-native, highly invasive noxious weeds, including diffuse, meadow and spotted knapweed, purple loosestrife, tansy ragwort, St. Johnswort, Scotch broom, and Dalmatian toadflax. Noxious weeds destroy biological diversity, decrease forage, increase erosion potential, and decrease land values across the state and western USA. Healthy habitats are vital for wildlife, livestock, and the people of Washington. Biological control, or biocontrol, is the intentional use of one living organism to control or suppress another organism. In weed biocontrol, this primarily includes the use of organisms such as insects, mites, and pathogens. Washington State land managers often do not have the time, funds, or expertise to implement biocontrol as part of their own integrated weed management strategies.

Public Safety

Practitioners in public safety agencies and the fire, law, and emergency management fields need access to competent, responsive, and neutral resources to provide data, analysis, technical assistance, and training to support effective management practices, the implementation of sound public policy, and the delivery of high-quality services. WSU is seen as a natural source for such services, but there has not always been a convenient entry into the university to provide access to the many capacities represented at WSU. After the university closed the Western Regional Institute for Community Oriented Public Safety and the Washington State Institute for Community Oriented Policing on the Spokane campus, the Division of Governmental Studies & Services (DGSS) was seen as a natural fit to take on enhanced roles in meeting these needs.

Fire Blight Control in Organic Apples and Pears

Fire blight is a serious disease of apples and pears in the state. If not controlled, it can infect entire orchards, killing flowers, limbs, and entire trees. Orchardists have used a number of strategies to control fire blight, including antibiotic sprays when predictive disease models indicate high infection risk. Antibiotics in organic production were allowed only for fire blight control, until recently. In 2012 the National Organics Standards Board voted to remove antibiotics from the national list of allowed materials, with an effective date of October 2014. Washington orchardists produce nearly 80% of the organic apples and pears in the U.S., with demand growing, and thus there is an immediate need for effective fire blight control alternatives.