Roughly 21 months after closing to the general public due to the pandemic, the Aurora facility ready to re-open

After 21 months, the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora is re-opening to the public on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.

"It has been a long road," NWREC Director Mike Bondi said, "When we first closed down for the pandemic, like most, we all thought this would be a couple or few weeks. Who would have known."

Early on in the pandemic, agriculture was declared an essential service. As a result, research and education activities associated with the work at NWREC, and all the Branch Experiment Stations across the state, were expected to continue. But access had to be restricted to employees only and on an approved schedule with faculty and staff needing to make weekly requests for access on certain days and times.

FILE PHOTO - The North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora will once again be open to the generla public beginning Jan. 3, 2022. This is nearly 21 months after closing to the public due to the pandemic.

"But, our research and education outreach continued, and we really need to thank our people for figuring out how to make this happen. We lost relatively few projects, kept important work going forward, and came up with new ways to teach — remotely online in a classroom setting, and in the field," Bondi said.

In-person education programs were allowed at NWREC for the first time this past April when everything had to be outside only.

Now, starting in the new year, the main entrance gate at NWREC will re-open with public hours back to normal —from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday -- with clerical staff available to answer questions in person.

COURTESY PHOTO: MIKE BIONDI - The doors of the NWREC will once again be open to the public, beginning Jan. 3, 2022.

Also, beginning in the new year will be scheduling of meeting spaces at NWREC for indoor education programs, workshops, classes, stakeholder and organization meetings, and other activities. A new room use fee is being instituted, too, to help defray the cost of cleaning and maintaining facilities for public meetings and outreach.

The main NWREC phone number for information is 503- 678-1264.

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