ONTARIO—For Bill Buhrig, new crops extension agent for Malheur County, his new position is an opportunity to follow his passion for research-based agriculture and to find answers to questions that come up.
Buhrig’s position is one of the outcomes of the Extension Service District and accompanying tax levy approved by county voters to support services and staff of Oregon State University Extension in the county. Buhrig’s focus includes cereal and forage crops, watersheds and whatever issues come through the door.
Buhrig is no stranger to Malheur County. He is a Vale-area native and a 1993 graduate of Vale High School. He then attended Treasure Valley Community College and went into farming, becoming a member of the farm crew at the University of Idaho Experiment Station at Parma.
Through its distance learning program, Buhrig earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Eastern Oregon University. He eventually earned a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Idaho. The last six years he worked as a technician in potatoes and onions.
Becoming more involved in research-based agriculture is what drew Buhrig to the Malheur County job, he said.
“It has always fascinated me,” he said. “Research-based agriculture is trying to answer a question. Answers take precedence over commercial production. It gives opportunities to figure out solutions.”
Besides doing the research, Buhrig said he enjoys working with the people involved in it. “They are tremendous people.”
Because there is crossover work between the Parma and Malheur experiment stations, Buhrig already knew some of the staff on the Oregon side, which helped with the transition.
Making the transition allowed him to be closer to home and learn what the questions are in the local area, providing opportunities to “make a difference in my own backyard,” Buhrig said. His small farm is next to his parents’ farm, near Vale.
The new position also allows him to utilize his master’s degree, he said.
Since his position is funded by the service district, Buhrig said, “my challenge is to validate that — to give them a little bang for their buck.”
Away from his work, Buhrig enjoys radio broadcasting, including announcing high school sports on the radio for KSRV, for the Oregon Scholastic Activities Association and for out-of-area radio stations. His other passion is being with his family, including his wife, Tracey, and three children, two of whom are still at home.