Cascades Raptor Center: Louise Shimmel & Kit Lacey

Louise Shimmel is all about second chances. Working in wildlife rehabilitation and nature education, Louise Shimmel has been known as the ‘raptor person’ in Lane County for more than three decades. In addition to educating, she is passionate about mending injured birds and returning them to the wild, whenever possible.


Her dedication to birds of prey is evident in her work as the executive director of Cascades Raptor Center, a nonprofit nature center and wildlife hospital in Eugene. When Louise was looking to re-finance the Cascades Raptor Center property, she was thrilled to land on Oregon Pacific Bank.


“Oregon Pacific Bank made us a generous offer on refinancing our property and financing the acquisition of a neighboring property—more than doubling our size,” Louise says.


In addition to refinancing, Louise counts on us for checking, money market savings and bill pay and says she is happy with the service she receives—having recommended us to colleagues from time to time.


“I like the people and the culture of service at Oregon Pacific Bank,” Louise says. “They are really good at making us feel important to them and are very good at resolving issues quickly and thoroughly.”


Consistently ranked on travel sites as one of the top three things to do in Eugene, Cascades Raptor Center welcomes more than 30,000 visitors a year, offering educational and up-close raptor experiences.


“Humans of all ages, cultures and ethnicities seem to be fascinated by these predators and really appreciate the chance to see them up close and learn something about them,” Louise says.


The organization is able to handle so many visitors because of the help of its tremendous staff, like Kit Lacey, a bird curator and education director at Cascades Raptor Center who oversees the daily operation and care of both the ambassador raptors at the nature center and the raptors that receive care in the wildlife hospital.


“What I enjoy most about my work is the opportunities for building trust,” Kit says. “Working relationships with ambassador animals allows me to help our visitors connect with nature.”


Louise says their journey has been bootstrap—slowly growing and building an abundance of community support over the years. Being a local nonprofit at the heart of Lane County, the Raptor Center, Louise says, appreciates banking at a place that’s committed to community.


“Having local decision-makers who know the community—that’s unique,” Louise says. “We have been with other, larger banks and some of the decisions they made were not beneficial to our type of business, like charging a fee for depositing cash or charging a fee for having to interact with a live teller rather than using an ATM or going online.”


Taking pride in the work they do, Louise, Kit and the rest of the team are passionate about their mission. “I love when we are able to release raptors back into the wild from the hospital,” Kit says. “We have given them a second chance at life.”


At Oregon Pacific Bank, we love the work that Louise and the Cascades Raptor Center staff and volunteers are doing to preserve and save birds of prey—it is an honor working with them. Pay them a visit, and be sure to check out their calendar of events!

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