Top row from left: Nolan Cochran, Ryan Taylor and Lanier Fussell. Bottom row: Alice Weston, left, and Alex Alonso Gudino. Photo courtesy of Bridget Callahan
A new cohort of Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) members is helping advance clean energy projects in rural Oregon.
The AmeriCorps program through University of Oregon places recent college graduates and graduate level students in rural communities across Oregon to support economic, social and environmental community development.
Members are placed with local agencies, typically nonprofit organizations or local governments, and work on a variety of topics from water quality and food insecurity to disaster recovery.
Five new members are working on energy-related projects throughout the state:
- Alice Weston is working with Oregon Department of Energy in Bend supporting ODOE programs for Central and Southern Oregon.
- Alex Alonso Gudino is working with NeighborWorks Umpqua in Roseburg on lower-income residential energy and housing issues.
- Nolan Cochran is working with Klamath & Lake Community Action Services in Klamath Falls on energy and housing affordability.
- Ryan Taylor is working with Lake County Resources Initiative in Lake County and Lanier Fussell is working with Wy-East in The Dalles. Both are helping agricultural producers and small businesses secure federal funding through USDA Rural Development programs.
Energy Trust has worked with RARE members for more than a decade, providing mentorship and guidance on ways energy efficiency and renewable energy can support community initiatives.
In some cases, Energy Trust also provides funding to help pay for some of the RARE member’s placement. This partnership builds local capacity to support Energy Trust program participation and, ultimately, customer utility bill savings and other clean energy benefits.
During the RARE orientation in September, Karen Chase, Energy Trust’s senior manager for community strategy, and Sustainable Northwest’s Bridget Callahan gave the new members an overview of Oregon’s energy landscape and issues facing rural communities in particular.
“I’m very excited to be working with and helping guide this new crew of RARE members,” said Chase. “They are going into rural Oregon at such an important time as more and more communities are seeking to invest in clean energy and need the capacity, resources and support to make that a reality.”