Denise Fennel

Denise Fennell is the OSU Extension Master Food Preserver Education Program Assistant.

“I’ve been making salsa for 20 years, how do I can it?”

“Is it safe to process my green beans in a water bath if I cook it longer?”

“I used the OSU Extension recipe for sauerkraut but it is too salty, what can I do?”

“I’m afraid my pressure canner is going to blow up!”

These are just some of the questions the Douglas County OSU Extension Master Food Preserver Volunteers answered last year. In fact, this group of 40 trained volunteers answered over 1800 questions from the public, taught several workshops on food preservation methods, tested over 150 pressure canner gauges for accuracy and contributed over 2000 hours of service to the community in 2018.

So whether you are new to food preservation or have been “putting up” for decades you may have similar questions and the Oregon State University Master Food Preserver program is here to help.

Signups are going on now for the 2019 Master Food Preserver (MFP) Volunteer Training Program.

There are many benefits to volunteering including increased social connections, increased happiness and improved physical and mental health. Volunteering can be a great way to give back to your community and it’s also fun. This incredible group of volunteers teach workshops and classes for the public, staff information booths at local events such as the Douglas County Fair, local celebrations, home shows, produce stands and farmer’s markets. MFPs in Lane and Douglas Counties staff a statewide food preservation/safety hotline from mid-July to mid-October as well as answer local questions throughout the season. MFPs also test pressure canner gauges on a regular basis at the OSU Extension Office and farm stands. Certified Master Food Preserver Volunteers have received in-depth training on food preservation and safety and provide up-to-date, science based information to the citizens of Douglas County.

In a survey of Douglas County Master Food Preserver volunteers, the top four benefits volunteers identified as receiving from their activity as MFPs were learning new skills, sharing knowledge with others, learning about food, and supporting the local food movement. Volunteers were also asked why they continue to be involved with the MFP program. The top three reason were to learn new skills, to share knowledge with others, and to support their community.

Do you want to join this great group and become a MFP volunteer? The Douglas County OSU Extension Service is currently accepting applications for our annual volunteer training. Applications can be picked up at our office or found online at bit.ly/2SrsKWy. The deadline to apply is Mar. 29.

The 2019 training starts Apr. 15 and meets every Monday until June 10. It includes over 50 hours of in-depth, science-based training in all types of food preservation. The training is presented in a practical, hands-on manner appropriate for people of different educational backgrounds, learning styles and food preservation experience. As part of the program, volunteers develop skills in working with people, public speaking and build self-confidence while increasing their expertise in food safety/preservation. Most important, volunteers make an enormous contribution to the health and welfare of people throughout Douglas County through an active local OSU Extension Service.

Anyone is welcome to apply. The cost of the training is $170 plus 60 hours of volunteer time in the two years after completing the training. Individuals interested in taking the full training but not interested in becoming a volunteer can also apply. The full cost of the training is $400.

To become a certified MFP volunteer, participants must attend all training classes and pass an open-book certification exam. To remain certified in the program returning volunteers are recertified each year by attending update sessions and completing the yearly certification exam. This assures us that our volunteers are up-to-date on the latest information in the area of food preservation/safety.

Questions about the annual volunteer training or any of the MFP community outreach activities should be directed to Denise Fennell, Douglas County OSU Extension Education Program Assistant. Denise can be reached at 541-672-4461 or denise.fennell@oregonstate.edu

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