By Jodi Mescher, Economic Development Coordinator, City of Lincoln City
Networking events have always awkward for me. I don’t know who to talk to, how to feel confident approaching people, or how to interest people in listening to my “elevator speech”. Through my experience in the RARE program and serving with the City of Lincoln City, my networking skills have greatly improved. When I first learned about the RARE program, I was drawn to the emphasis on opportunities for professional development. I have found great support in this from both the RARE staff and my community supervisor.
Since serving as a RARE AmeriCorps member, I have had the opportunity to attend several professional development events including; Oregon Main Street Conference, Business Oregon’s Infrastructure Summit, the annual Oregon Economic Development Association conference, and a Certified Local Government (CLG) workshop. These events all had informational sessions that were relevant to the work I am doing in my community. However, I have found that the most beneficial aspects of these events are the networking opportunities. With my new-found confidence in networking, I am now able to take advantage of the networking opportunities at these workshops and trainings.
A large part of my increased confidence in networking I owe to the high reputation that RARE has, especially in rural Oregon. In my experience, people know the RARE program and understand the value it can bring to a community. When meeting people at these professional development events, I can almost visibly see people perk up when they hear RARE mentioned. When I share with people that I am serving in the RARE program, they are generally excited to hear about my community and are willing to offer support.
One particular event that sticks out is the CLG workshop I attended. One session led to a discussion about resources rural communities could access in support of local historic preservation efforts. In brainstorming a list of available resources, one participant named the RARE program as a crucial asset to community development. I should note that the person giving RARE a shout-out was not me, nor was it anyone directly related to the program. They were simply speaking from the great work they had seen RARE members do over 25 years of service.
Serving in the RARE program has many benefits on top of the great experience working in the community end economic development field. On top of the skills I am gaining through my work, I will take away professional development growth. It is exciting to be part of such an established program and I am grateful for the opportunity to add to RARE’s impact across the state of Oregon.
About the author, Jodi Mescher: Jodi has a Bachelor’s degree in environmental economics and sustainability from Ohio State University. She completed a 2-year Peace Corps assignment in Zambia where she worked as a rural aquaculture extension agent. After returning from Zambia, Jodi moved to Oregon and has since been enjoying the many natural amenities of the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys living and working in a small coastal community.
Does community development work interest you? Are you looking for a life changing experience in rural Oregon? Learn more about serving with the RARE AmeriCorps Program via our website: https://rare.uoregon.edu/application-process/member-application-process