WSU Extension holds free classes

Despite the ongoing round of budget cuts, officials from the WSU Island County Extension said a full slate of classes will still be held this month.

“We are creating a full slate of hands-on classes for the public, on topics ranging from how to compost yard waste and animal manures, to how to dig clams in a healthy and environmentally sensitive way,” said Judy Feldman, the program’s acting director.

“These are dynamic times, and our WSU Extension has resources that can help people navigate safely through them,” she added. “Our goal is quite simply to increase public awareness of what those resources are and to make them easily accessible.”

Kicking off the series in Oak Harbor on Saturday, May 9, a WSU livestock advisor will offer a field class on the basics of raising a pig or two, and on pasture management. Both are open to anyone interested, but folks should know they are designed for people who have little experience in commercial livestock production.

The following weekend, folded in with the 4-H Spring Show at the Island County Fairgrounds, three additional workshops will be available: “Chickens, Turkeys and Ducks, Oh My!”, “Compost 101,” and “Making Sense of Horse Nutrition.”

“Staff, volunteers, community partners and the public have all been waiting as patiently as possible to learn how we would need to shift our gears,” Feldman said. “We effectively lost half of our county funding, as compared to 2008. There will be some major changes to our traditional programming that we will have to make, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get this series up and running.”

To sign up for any of the first-round classes, get more information or volunteer with WSU Island County Extension to teach a community education class in their “Island Living Series,” contact the office at 321-5111, ext. 5558, 360-240-5558, or e-mail

All classes are free, but donations are welcome. Registration is required solely to control class size.

The schedule is:

“This Little Piggy Went To Market,” a small scale market hog demonstration; Oak Harbor, Saturday, May 9, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Pastured pigs, hoop structures and deep bedding systems will be discussed. To register and receive driving directions, call 240-5558 or e-mail

“Hay There!” A course on pasture management, establishment and renovation; Oak Harbor, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 9.

Learn how to become a successful grass farmer on Whidbey Island. Maximize pasture forage yield by using good management techniques. Pasture establishment, renovations and over-seeding techniques will be discussed. Register at 240-5558 or e-mail

“Making Sense of Horse Nutrition,” what horses need to eat in order to be healthy; the 4-H Building at the county fairgrounds, Langley, 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 16.

Using a “forage first” approach, this workshop will show how to balance calories, water, salt, and minerals for your equine friends. E-mail to register.

“Chickens, Turkeys and Ducks, Oh My!” Fiddle Faddle Farm Building, county fairgournds, Langley, 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 16.

Chickens, ducks, turkeys: Learn how to start your own flock with basic information on where to order your first birds, housing options, fencing, and even how to make a "chicken tractor." Taught by Stinger Anderson, a WSU Island County Master Gardener who is the superintendent of poultry for the Island County Fair and co-leader of the Rock'n Doodle 4-H Poultry club.

“Composting 101,” learn how to start a compost pile or improve your existing one;

the 4-H Building at the county fairgrounds, Langley, 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 16.

WSU Extension Waste Wise Program will show how to create a yard-waste compost system in your backyard, or improve an existing one. The class will also cover the safe way to use animal manures in your garden.

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