We are excited to have Grace Andrews joining our team to expand our capacity to dig into some important and timely energy conversations in our region.
Grace is an AmeriCorps member with Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE), a program that increases capacity for communities across Oregon to tackle community-based projects. Grace graduated from Colby College in spring 2021 with a B.A. in Environmental Science. During her time at college, she enjoyed working for a local land trust, being a writing tutor, and leading trips in Colby’s outing club. Grace is passionate about fostering connections with the environment and getting communities involved in environmental efforts. She was born and raised in a small town in Maine but is excited to explore everything Oregon has to offer, especially if it involves skiing and hiking!
Grace’s work will focus on driving clean energy solutions for Deschutes County, pulling from best practices and leveraging networks across the state. This work is being completed in partnership with Sustainable Northwest, a non-profit organization that works across the state on a wide range of environmental projects, including sustainable forestry and clean energy.
As Energy Program Coordinator for The Environmental Center and Sustainable Northwest, Grace is focusing on the goal of developing a community energy plan for Deschutes County. These plans can be a powerful tool to spur clean energy projects, increase community resilience, and support economic development. A variety of projects will help to accomplish this goal, including completing a baseline energy assessment for the county in collaboration with interns from OSU-Cascades and opening community dialogue around what opportunities and barriers exist to energy efficiency and renewables. She will also be learning from other rural communities how they have planned their energy futures and using that to develop a toolkit of best practices for community energy planning in rural Oregon communities.
Q&A with Grace Andrews, RARE AmeriCorps Member
Hi Grace! Welcome to the team! To get started, we’d all love to hear what inspired you to do RARE?
I think the thing that inspired me to do RARE was that I always had an interest in AmeriCorps or doing some kind of service when I graduated. RARE came across me by total luck and chance! I read it and it sounded really cool and I knew that I wanted to travel and expand my horizons. It was tucked into Colby’s Environmental Studies Department newsletter.
You moved here from across the country! Tell us a little bit about where you grew up.
I grew up in Central Maine in a town called Farmington. It’s rural but pretty vibrant. I loved growing up in a small town and I was always finding ways to be outside. My family was always visiting beautiful places in Maine and that is how I was inspired to enter the environmental sphere. I have always wanted to explore more so I am excited to be here in Oregon.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
I am looking forward to being part of the RARE program and the TEC community, as well as getting to know Central Oregon better and becoming part of the community here. I am enjoying tackling all my energy-related projects that seem really huge right now but that I know are going to really make a difference in the long run.
What’s something that’s surprised you to learn about energy in Oregon to date?
I think the thing that has surprised me the most is how much momentum the sustainable energy movement has in Oregon. As I learn about what’s happening in the energy world, I am constantly seeing people who are passionate about and dedicated to their work in energy and communities that are recognizing the importance of clean energy for their futures.
Can you complete the sentence, “People may be surprised when they learned that I…”?
I am a little rusty right now, but I love to play fiddle! I grew up learning the violin in school.
As I got older, I began to participate in the local traditional music culture in Maine in addition to our regular school orchestra. Eventually, I stopped taking violin lessons and graduated out of high school orchestra. But I still love being able to pick up my violin and break out a fiddle tune.