Rural Douglas County, Oregon—historically dependent on logging and manufacturing—is home to one of the state’s highest unemployment rates. But in the tiny town of Elkton, a retired teacher has turned her dream into a community hub.
The Elkton Community Education Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental, educational, and social enterprise activities, thrives on the banks of the Umpqua River. Former business teacher Carol Beckley bought the land in 1998, aiming to offer “further education for all ages.”
Today, thanks to fundraising by Beckley and her volunteers, the center includes a 4.5-acre Native Oregon Plant Park, gardens, an amphitheater, a library, and a butterfly pavilion. Students have helped assemble three books on plants, and in recent years, the center has offered a youth employment program.
“Several of our ‘grads’ have earned their way through college using skills they learned at ECEC,” Beckley says.