Columbia River Gorge

Chelsea Ruder - OHSU Community Research Liaison

New Gorge Liaison Region Map

Chelsea is located in the Columbia River Gorge and her region serves Hood River, Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties

If you would like to contact Chelsea, please email ruderc@ohsu.edu or call 541-993-8323

Chelsea Ruder Gorge

Chelsea's role on the Community Engaged Research Team

  • Support community driven projects that aim to improve the overall health and wellness of the Columbia Gorge residents by helping community partners identify opportunities that could benefit from additional support from the OHSU Community Research Hub.
  • Provide support and develop collaborations with community partners and research experts to identify, design and conduct health research.
  • Support local community partners in building research related skills that will support local health priorities, projects and initiatives.
  • Work strategically and collaboratively with specific champions in the community, including the Collective Impact Health Specialist and Columbia Gorge Learning Specialist.  To learn more about the Healthy Gorge Initiative and the collective work being conducted in the Columbia River Gorge region, click here.   
  • Support the work of the Community Health Advocacy and Research Alliance (CHARA).
  • Support OHSU academic collaborators by engaging stakeholders and community members, providing county level data and knowledge about the region, facilitating partnerships, and supporting data collection efforts (e.g. focus groups, interviews, surveys). 

  • Provide networking opportunities with community partners and academic collaborations to learn about research projects occurring in the Gorge.

  • Support community partners in developing an evaluation plan, including logic model, measurement framework, data collection instruments and analysis plan.

Columbia River Gorge Regional Coalition

The Community Health Advocacy and Research Alliance (CHARA)

CHARA is a partnership between community members, patients, local organizations, academic staff and researchers. CHARA aims to work collaboratively with those groups to identify, design and conduct research to answer questions that matter in the Columbia River Gorge region. To do this, CHARA supports local organizations in identifying opportunities to turn challenges or questions into research applications while supporting community members and organizations in shared learnings, as well as, introducing them to researchers and vice versa. CHARA values the established networks and collaborations of academic and community partners/members and aims to support research and program evaluation to optimize the health and well-being of the community and its members.

Mission: Community Health Advocacy & Research Alliance (CHARA) identifies, develops, and conducts health research to answers questions that matter in the Columbia Gorge region.

Vision: We bring together community members, patients, health care professionals, and researchers to collect and generate good research questions in order to learn how to foster health in our community and to share what we learn with others.

CHARA Advisory Members

If you would like to learn more or get involved with CHARA, contact Chelsea Ruder

Project snapshot

Bright yellow orchard in the Columbia River Gorge area with rolling green hills behind

What’s strong with you! Program Evaluation

Evidence suggests that the greatest protective factors for youth develop out of positive engagement with peers, families, schools and communities. Youth who are disengaged are in danger of developing high-risk behaviors. YouthThink and Comprehensive Family Services LLC (CFS) are working collaboratively with The Dalles Middle School to initiative a new program that offers additional opportunities for youth to increase resiliency and avert potential future problems.

YouthThink and Comprehensive Family Services, LLC requested support from the OHSU Community Research Liaison in evaluating the “What’s strong with you!” program. “What’s strong with you!” was implemented into the school system in January 2019. Since the program is new and was developed locally, program staff want to better understand if program activities and support offered to at-risk youth is indeed making an impact on their behaviors by building on protective factors while averting risk factors. In addition to determining impact, YouthThink and Comprehensive Family Services, LLC will use evaluation results to sustain local funding and apply for other funding applications. 

“What’s strong with you!” is a research based program developed by YouthThink and is carried out by Comprehensive Family Services, LLC in partnership with the The Dalles Middle School (TDMS).  Based on information learned from focus groups and interviews with TDMS staff, behavior problems are increasing with each 6th grade class. In addition, Oregon Health Teen and Student Wellness data for Wasco County has shown an increase in students who are drinking alcohol, using marijuana, as well as, a high percentage of students who feel lonely, think about suicide and have weak positive development.  WSWY was was developed to mitigate the number of youth experiencing behaviors and demonstrating risky behaviors.  WSWY improves resiliency in youth by increasing the number of protective factors, emotional literacy and secure attachment by supporting youth on an individual basis.  This program builds on existing skills youth demonstrate and helps them identify internal qualities to empower and avert potential problems in the future through one-on-one coaching, peer identified support groups and family facilitations.  Parents/guardians are encouraged to attend a Toddler to Teen Boost Camp which provides context to better understand how the brain processes emotions and provides parents/guardians with powerful tools to implement strategies that will help their children manage their feelings and make better choices. 

  • Chelsea Ruder, Community Research Liaison
  • Portland State University Nonprofit Institute
  • YouthThink

  • Comprehensive Family Services, LLC

  • The Dalles Middle School

  • Juvenile Crime Prevention Department

“What’s strong with you!” program evaluation components:

1. Identify purpose of evaluation and key stakeholders who will be involved through the entire project

2. Conduct literature search to see what has been done in other communities

3. Update logic model, identify evaluation questions and develop measurement framework

4. Adapt data collection instruments

5. Collect and analyze data

6. Complete evaluation report and disseminate findings to key stakeholders

The “What’s strong with you!” program evaluation is projected to be complete in June 2020.

Stay tuned for results!

Very green, western area of the Columbia River Gorge with rock outcroppings
Eastern, agricultural area along the Columbia River Gorge with big boulders in the foreground
Eastern, rocky region of the Columbia River Gorge with rocky river bank and the river