Oregon Field Guide

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Oregon Field Guide
Oregon Field Guide Logo 2010.png
Created by Steve Amen
Presented by Steve Amen
Theme music composer Cal Scott[1]
No. of seasons 25
Executive producer(s) Steve Amen
Producer(s) Ed Jahn
Vince Patton
Jule Gilfillan
Cinematography Todd Sonflieth
Nick Fisher
Michael Bendixen
Original channel KOPB-TV
Original release 1990 – present
External links

Oregon Field Guide is a weekly television program produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting focusing on recreation, the outdoors, and environmental issues in the state of Oregon. The show has become part of the Oregon zeitgeist. Steve Amen is the show's host and executive producer. Named for the field guides used to identify plants, animals, and natural phenomenon, the wide-ranging series covers Oregon natural history, outdoor recreation, conservation, agriculture, rural life, and other local subjects. Produced with deep narratives rather than short segments, 13 half-hour and one full-hour episodes are shown per year.[2][3]


Oregon Field Guide started as a partnership between Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.[4] It first aired in 1990 with the impact of drift netting for tuna on dolphins,[5][6] The show was kept during major state budget cuts in 2003 that affected OPB.[7][8] In that year, the show budget was $300,000, with about 60% from two corporate sponsors and funds collected through pledges.[7]

Most stories are narrated by the lead producer/reporter, though Steve Amen has also narrated reports produced by others. Jim Newman produced over 250 Oregon Field Guide segments, and was brought on when Amen got the greenlight on the series.[2] Amen who was born in Wyoming in 1952 and attended Portland State University, receiving a degree in photography.[3][9][10][11] Amen produced an award-winning Frontline episode, titled "To The Last Fish", in 1991, and has had three hip replacements since the show began.[12][13][14]

While the show has been very popular, it was on the bubble[clarification needed] for the first few seasons, and its form was compared to PM Magazine.[5][7][15][16] The show had a 6.1 rating in the Portland market in 1994, receiving a 9 share, meaning reruns of the show beat primetime programming from the commercial stations.[10] In 1995, the 10% rating share of Oregon Field Guide was the highest of any locally produced PBS show in the nation, and The Oregonian called it "the crown jewel in OPB's otherwise lackluster record of locally produced programming."[17] In 1998, the show was the most-watched local TV series in the PBS system.[18]

Past producers/reporters include Jim Newman, Eric cain, Jessica Martin and Jeff Douglas.


The show’s producers Vince Patton and Ed Jahn have received awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists Society of Environmental Journalists for "Outstanding Beat/In-Depth Reporting, Television". Patton received an award for his reporting in the episode "Marmot Dam," and Jahn for his reporting in "Biscuit Fire Recovery" and "The Silent Invasion." When presenting the award for reporting on the Marmot Dam removal, the society recognized Oregon Field Guide, stating:

To watch these stories was to be there in the moment, experiencing it as it happened. Simply beautiful storytelling. Oregon Field Guide showed us things this panel had never heard of. More important, this program did what documentaries do best. They made a point to stay after everybody else left. By doing that, they were able to report beyond the headlines and were able to prove everybody wrong.[19][20]

The show has won eight Regional Emmys.[21] One was in 1995 for the "outstanding informational series/magazine short format division",[22] and another in the "best public affairs special" in 1998 for their one-hour special titled "Willamette Water Quality".[23][24]

It also received two Golden Eagle awards from the Council on International Nontheatrical Events in 1994: one for an hourlong report on "Cleaning Up Hanford",[25] and the other for "Abuses of the 1872 Mining Law".[26] The latter report also received an honorable mention in the Public Affairs category of the Pacific Mountain Network's "Best of the West" awards in that year.[26]

Notable segments[edit]

Oregon Field Guide has filmed while diving in Spirit Lake, titled "Ecological Mysteries of Spirit Lake".[27][28] It showed the rebirth of the lake after the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

The unfiltered and pure water of the Bull Run watershed, has been featured in two seasons.[29] It has also covered near-extinct bighorn sheep and mountain unicycling,[17] and how Estacada High School students used Cycle Oregon's visit to raise funds for their school.[30]

The Silent Invasion[edit]

"The Silent Invasion" was an OPB documentary production studying the threats posed by invasive species in the state. It was produced and written by Ed Jahn.[31][32][33][34][35] The documentary focused on the influence of yellow-star thistle, quagga mussels, spartina and English ivy, among other invasive species. The production involved a campaign and outreach component that included partnerships with the Oregon Invasive Species Council (OISC) and SOLVE Oregon. The ultimate goal of the special was to serve as a wake-up call about invasive species and to inspire citizens to take action.[36] Species documented included Yellow star thistle, Spartina, and Quagga mussels.

The special won a silver baton level Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award in 2009.[37][38] The award jury was "struck by the boldness and courage of OPB to attack such issues and then to put resources against it."[37][38] It also received three Regional Emmys.[32]


  1. ^ Brown, Valerie (Summer 2007). "Music on the Cusp: From Folk to Acid Rock in Portland Coffeehouses, 1967–1970". Oregon Historical Quarterly (History Cooperative). Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  2. ^ a b Muldoon, Katy (2009-09-24). "'Field Guide' send-off turns lens toward 'The Voice'". The Oregonian. 
  3. ^ a b Gault, Roy (2004-11-10). ""Oregon Field Guide" delights armchair adventurers". The (Salem) Statesman Journal. 
  4. ^ Farrell, Peter (1988-01-30). "ABC Homeless Movie Aims for Big Impact". The Oregonian. 
  5. ^ a b Farrell, Peter (1990-03-07). "Two programs show off nature's wonders". The Oregonian. 
  6. ^ Farrell, Peter (1990-04-16). "'Shannon's Deal' Opens with Quirky Episode". The Oregonian. 
  7. ^ a b c Monroe, Bill (2003-05-18). "This reality TV show is just too real". The Oregonian. With any luck, the Oregon Legislature will keep Oregon Public Broadcasting on its funding hit list . . . and I'll be free from worry about getting scooped every Thursday on "Oregon Field Guide." 
  8. ^ "Public policy shows ends on Oregon Public Broadcasting". Associated Press. 2003-08-31. 
  9. ^ "Oregon Field Guide crew". The Oregonian. 1994-01-13. 
  10. ^ a b Monroe, Bill (1994-01-13). "Mr. Outdoors". The Oregonian. 
  11. ^ "About Oregon Field Guide". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 2010-02-24. since the inception of the show in 1988. 
  12. ^ Peck, Dennis (2008-09-29). "Oregon Field Guide still strong after 20 years". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  13. ^ Amen, Steve (Fall 1992). "Some tips for the road" (PDF). SEJournal. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  14. ^ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/programs/info/920.html
  15. ^ Morris, Rebecca (1989-12-31). "Cable, new technology expand local offerings". The Oregonian. Oregon Field Guide, a magazine show about the environment and recreation, is scheduled to debut in April. 
  16. ^ Horton, Stan (1991-01-05). "'Collectors' will go on hiatus next fall". The Oregonian. Rau said he was upset that Oregon Field Guide and Inside Oregon, OPB's other two locally produced shows, were not affected, even though they have much lower viewership. Orme noted that Inside Oregon had recently been cut back to a half-hour and that "we feel an obligation to continue Oregon Field Guide,"which focuses on the state's natural resources and environment and begins its second season this month. Orme said the cost of producing Oregon Field Guide was less than half of that for The Collectors. OPB had a choice between dropping The Collectors and eliminating the other programs, he said. 
  17. ^ a b Schulberg, Pete (1995-10-11). "Woodsy 'Oregon Field Guide' an OPB jewel". The Oregonian. 
  18. ^ "Oregon Public Broadcasting and Microsoft Announce Alliance to Transmit Learning Resources Through Data". Business Wire. 1998-02-17. 
  19. ^ http://www.sej.org/initiatives/awards/sej-7th-annual-contest-winners
  20. ^ Waldman, Allison (2008-10-13). "Diligence in Oregon". Television Week. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  21. ^ Monroe, Bill (2008-09-30). "'Oregon Field Guide' scours state for compelling stories". The Oregonian. 
  22. ^ Schulberg, Pete (1995-06-15). "Portland lands another network series". The Oregonian. 
  23. ^ Schulberg, Pete (1998-06-23). "'Howie Mandel Show' has an unfunny start'". The Oregonian. 
  24. ^ Schulberg, Pete (1997-02-27). "Report says just plain folks fouling the Willamette". The Oregonian. 
  25. ^ Schulberg, Pete (1994-01-27). "Update on Hanford cleanup a chilling hour". The Oregonian. 
  26. ^ a b "Business Notes: Elizabeth Madsen, former partner of ...". The Oregonian. 1994-06-05. 
  27. ^ "Episode 1912: Ecological Mysteries of Spirit Lake". Oregon Field Guide. OPB. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  28. ^ Bailey, Mike (2008-03-24). "Bits 'n' Pieces: Medical center video showered with awards". The Columbian. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  29. ^ Mahar, Ted (2009-10-13). "Bull Run water topic of specials". The Oregonian. 
  30. ^ Adams, Barbara (2008-01-16). "EHS students on Oregon Field Guide". The Estacada News (Pamplin Media Group). Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Invasive Species: OPB's 'Oregon Field Guide' series". Statesman Journal. 2007-09-23. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  32. ^ a b Graves, Mark (2009-06-05). "Industry notes". The Oregonian. 
  33. ^ "Oregon Public Broadcasting wins documentary award". Associated Press (Corvallis, Oregon). 2009-01-26. 
  34. ^ "Oregon Invasive Species Council Oregon Field Guide". oregon.gov. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  35. ^ Mahar, Ted (2008-04-21). "The 'aliens' among us work quiet destruction". The Oregonian. 
  36. ^ Waldman, Allison J. (January 2009). "In Depth: Oregon Public Broadcasting: ‘The Silent Invasion’". TelevisionWeek. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  37. ^ a b "Oregon Public Broadcasting wins major award". Portland Business Journal. 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  38. ^ a b "OPB Documentary Wins DuPont-Columbia Award". OPB. 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2010-02-25.