If it grows and is irrigated in the Columbia Basin, the scientists at the Oregon State University Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center know more about it than anyone in the region. The staff at the ag center a mile or so south of the city center have been conducting research on and educating farmers about crops here for a century now.

That's why today most normal activities will cease at 2121 South First St. while the faculty and staff invites the community to celebrate the facility's centennial.

Superintendent Phil Hamm and his crew have put together six hours of activities scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. The early afternoon will include information about the 100-year history of the experiment station, which Oregon Agricultural College (forerunner of OSU) established in 1909. Historian Mathias F. Kolding said the original Umatilla Experiment Farm was two miles northwest of Hermiston, or about four miles north of its present site.

Also available until 5:30 p.m. will be exhibits of scientists' past and present projects, and tours of the laboratories and the varied field studies the staff conduct. Special entertainment will be available for children, too.

In an effort to keep the speeches short and to the point, Hamm and his staff have crammed eight speakers into a half-hour slot beginning at 6 p.m. U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., will be among the dignitaries on hand. Joining him are a trio from OSU: Sabah Randhawa, provost and executive vice president; Bill Boggess, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Doug Hart, OSU Extension regional director.

Also stepping behind the lectern will be Umatilla County Commissioner Dennis Doherty, Hermiston Mayor Bob Severson, Superintendent Hamm and local producer Bryan Wolfe.

Folks won't want to miss the last 1 1/2 hours. About 20 sponsors from near and far have chipped in to help the ag center crew celebrate in style with a free barbecue. It will be from 6:30-8 p.m. A team is cooking half a beef, so there should be plenty for all, said George Clough, horticulturist and olericulturist. People who don't know what those terms mean can come to the center today and find out.

Rounding out the evening, Hermiston entertainer John Wambeke will sing and crack jokes from 7-8 p.m.

"It's gonna be a great time to celebrate," Hamm said.

He and his crew have put together a fun-filled and educational day. We encourage everyone to help the center's staff celebrate this significant milestone.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the East Oregonian editorial board, comprised of Associate Publisher Kathryn Brown, General Manager Wendy DalPez, Managing Editor Skip Nichols, News Editor Daniel Wattenburger and Senior Reporter Dean Brickey. Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of the East Oregonian.

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