The mission of the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments is to increase the capacity of rural communities to improve their economic, social, and environmental conditions, through the assistance of trained graduate-level participants who live and work in communities for 11 months. Participants assist communities and agencies in the development and implementation of plans for achieving a sustainable natural resource base and improving rural economic conditions while gaining community building and leadership skills. RARE is an AmeriCorps program administered through the University of Oregon’s Community Service Center. RARE is currently supported through grants from the Corporation for National & Community Service (AmeriCorps), The Ford Family Foundation, the University of Oregon, the Oregon Food Bank, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and other agencies, according to their website. In addition, each participating community provides $19,000 of approximately $27,000 needed to place, train, and support a full-time RARE member.
For anyone not familiar, Cascade Locks is a historic town located in the heart of Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge and Cascade Mountains. It is one of the oldest towns on the Columbia River, originating in 1853 with the arrival of three families who settled alongside an existing native population. A small settlement grew up on the banks of the river to help travelers portage around the rapids, first by foot, then by mule-drawn rail cars, steam engines, and finally riverboats. The City took its name from a set of locks built to improve navigation past the Cascades Rapids of the Columbia River. Incorporated in 1935, the City of Cascade Locks is led by an elected Mayor, a City Administrator and six City Councilors.