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Michael Smith - Former FRC Student

Feather River College
570 Golden Eagle Ave.
Quincy, CA. 95971


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History and Setting

Feather River College was founded in July of 1968.  Based on a need for accessible community college education for the people of rural Plumas County, The Plumas Unified School District was annexed to The Peralta Community College District in Oakland, California.  By this action, a unique and innovative educational experiment began as the two districts are geographically separated by more than 250 miles.

Feather River College offered its initial academic program in September 1968, holding classes in the high schools of Plumas County.  In August 1969, FRC moved its operation to the Plumas County Fairgrounds where it remained until the college was established at its permanent site in April 1971.  An extensive building program and aggressive recruitment program contributed to the college’s steady growth.  In 1988, it was determined that the future of Feather River College and the needs of the citizens of Plumas County would be best served if the college became and independent, locally controlled community college district.  Thus, in July 1988, FRC was de-annexed from the Peralta District, and the Feather River Community College District was formed.  The first Board of Trustees was elected in November 1988.  The District entered a new era that one faculty member described as its “declaration of independence.”

This independence brought a new administration and renewed local support for the single college district.  During the ten-year period between July 1988 and June 1999, student enrollment nearly doubled, and full-time faculty, administrators, and staff had all increased.  New faculty, migrating from all over the United States, added stature to the college.  Legislation was created to allow “good neighbor” students from Nevada to attend the college at reduced non-resident tuition.  An innovative program was created with California’s Mini Corps to educate the children of migrant workers.  Continued addition of new programs and update of established programs have contributed to the growth of the college, both in size and scope.

Feather River College is located in the rural northeastern region of California.  Plumas County is a large county of approximately 2600 square miles of land.  Most of this area is contained within the Plumas National Forest.  The region is generally mountainous, located at the junction of the Cascade Range and the Sierra Nevadas.   Typically the landscape is composed of steep mountain terrain that borders small valleys or narrow river canyons. 

This type of terrain contributes to the fact that there are only 8.2 residents per square mile in Plumas County as compared to the state figure of 217.2 residents per square mile.  Most of the county population is centered in small communities, with the City of Portola being the only incorporated city in the county.  Population data for Portola also includes the Delleker area.  The Almanor area of the county is situated in the vicinity of the lake with the same name and includes the towns of Chester, Hamilton Branch, Canyon Dam, and the developments around the lake itself.  The Feather River Canyon area encompasses the western portion of the county from the junction of Highways 70 and 89 at the confluence of Spanish Creek and Indian Creek to the county line on Highway 70.  Greenville, Taylorsville, and Crescent Mills are clustered in the Indian Valley.  Population centers in the American Valley include Quincy, the county seat, Meadow Valley, East Quincy, and the Highway 70 corridor east to Lee Summit.  The Graeagle area includes Graeagle, Blairsden, Clio, Cromberg, Spring Valley, and Sloat.  The Sierra Valley contains the towns of Beckwourth, Vinton, and Chilcoot.  The Last Chance Area is the sparsely populated northeastern portion of the county that is located along Last Chance Creek, leading into the Genesee Valley.

Bordering the Plumas National Forest, the main Feather River College campus is located on 226 acres of pine and oak forest.  The placement of the campus buildings affords striking views of the surrounding mountains.  In addition to classrooms and laboratories, the campus facilities include a fish hatchery, an equestrian center with horse boarding facilities, and state of the art baseball and softball facilities.  The FRC Chester Campus is the site of the Chester Learning Center and the Almanor Culinary Arts Academy.  A facility in Portola allows for the scheduling of classes at that location.