University program is just what Darci Connor desired in a jobSEASIDE - Darci Connor has a passion for oceans and their coastlines.

That's why the Rhode Island native and University of Oregon student wanted to work in Seaside as part of the university's Resource Assistance for Rural Environments program.

"I grew up on a coast that's already developed and that's one of the reasons I wanted to come to Oregon," Connor said. "It's relatively much more underdeveloped than the Eastern coastline."

The RARE program is part of the university's community service center and is supported by grants from the United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon's Economic and Community Development department and the state.

"She's got three tasks while she's here, but her primary duty will be to inventory our parks and open spaces," Planning Director Kevin Cupples said. "She will provide the raw data which will lay the foundation for a city parks master plan."

Other duties include researching the feasibility and need for additional water lines and transportation and parking issues in the downtown core area.

Connor believes that the work will last beyond her 11-month assignment.

"It's a special area and the decisions that go into its development will have an effect for years to come," she said. "There are incredible natural resources and once you lose those resources you can't get them back. Having come from an area where we've lost many of those resources, I see a critical need to preserve them."

During her first week, Connor said she's already enjoyed much of Seaside's "local color" and finds the residents to be warm and welcoming. She hopes that continues as she works to get a sense of community members' concerns.

"What's important to me is that they understand the resources they have and the role they play in their daily lives," she said. "I see the value in working with the community to make sure they support decisions that are made. This area is their home and they live and work here."

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