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Seedling sale success buoys forestry scholarships

By Larry Mauter
For Lebanon Local
Buoyed by continued success of the Linn County Small Woodlands Association Seedling Sale, board members have increased scholarship and educational funding commitments for the year.
Meeting March 5, directors heard financial results of the February 1 seedling sale. Treasurer Shirley Holmberg reported that profits from the 25th annual event, after scholarships, totaled about $9,500.
“It was a resounding success, thanks to all the hard-working volunteers and amazing people that make it happen,” Bonnie Marshall, seedling sale chairwoman, told directors.
Roughly 500 hours of volunteer time was put in over the weekend of the sale, according to Fay Sallee, LCSWA education committee chairwoman.
Seventy five people, she said, staffed the event – including 4-H’ers and the current three university scholarship recipients.
“The bottom line is we have tremendous support for this event from a lot of people and we really thank them all,” Sallee said.
Overall, Marshall said, 11,600 seedlings were sold, up from 9,000 plants a year earlier. The event continues to encourage the pre-sale of seedlings, with 203 sales coming from pre-order forms sent to new and past customers. In comparison, last year’s pre-orders totaled about 140. There were 136 orders filled from additional customers early Saturday as people came to pick up their pre-orders, said Marshall.
This year’s biggest complication came when a freeze wiped out a nursery’s stock of red alder. Marshall said people who pre-ordered alder were able to substitute other seedlings or were issued refunds when they picked up the rest of their order.
Based on the seedling sale report, directors unanimously agreed to increase the annual renewable scholarships that go to Oregon college forestry students from Linn County from $1,000 to $2,000. The approved motion was for a one-time only increase that may be continued by further board action.
The board also agreed to use $7,000 in past seedling sale proceeds to join five other OSWA chapters in the Oregon Natural Resources Education Fund (ONREP). OSWA President Mike Barsotti introduced the idea at the annual meeting in January and urged the move at the directors’ meeting. Benton, Lane, Washington, Columbia and Yamhill had previously agreed to provide $18,000 of the $25,000 necessary to create the grant program to be administered by the Oregon Community Fund, said Barsotti.
The establishment of an OSWA ONREF sub fund will provide more support to high school forestry education programs, said Barsotti, and involve OSWA in the annual selection and awarding grants to Oregon high schools. Sweet Home, Scio and Stayton are local high schools that have received past ONREF grants, he said.
Along with the annual seedling sale at the Linn County Expo, a local woods fair — a woody-goods fest — also attracted land owners and others with questions about Oregon forestry and wood products.
“Turnout was good for chapter volunteers as well as patrons,” said Lee Peterman, chapter president. “Vendors seemed pleased with sales.”
“The focus on the ‘other-side-of-the-hall’ from the seedling sale, was on educational and informational resources to small land-owners in addition to the traditional vendors of products from local forest-land artisans,” explained Peterman.
One veteran vendor at the Feb. 1 event said he sold about $80 in goods during the morning. He added, however, the 20 business cards he handed out that day could also pay later dividends.
The Linn County Small Woodlands Assoc. is a non-profit organization with about 120 family memberships.
“A huge thank you goes out to all our customers that have purchased seedlings over the past 25 years,” said Marshall. “Without you, our seedling sale wouldn’t be the successful fundraiser it is benefitting youth throughout our county.”