COLORADO – When forty members of the Rocky Mountain Regional Leadership Team gathered the week of September 23, an open house with 14 student leaders from Collbran, Boxelder and Pine Ridge Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers provided a break from discussions on the challenges faced in managing national forests and grasslands. But one resource the Rocky Mountain Region has eagerly taken advantage of are the three CCCs spread across the region. Integrating the CCCs into the fabric of its work has been at the forefront of the Forest Service initiative to address critical needs in the areas of facilities, trails and recreational area infrastructure and work in the area of natural resources such as aquatics.
“The array of work that the students do is intriguing, and the idea that we will be working more closely with Job Corps to identify even more skills and trades relevant to natural resources is an exciting endeavor,” said Rock Mountain Regional Forester Brian Ferebee. The student trade tables were the highlight of the open house, providing the opportunity for students to demonstrate the skills they refine in their specific vocational trades and how those skills could be deployed to aid the agency.
Pine Ridge Job Corps welding student Tanner Rocha’s table was consistently busy with staff lingering to admire the intricacy of his fabricated sculptures that included a huge butterfly with outstretched wings. Custom metal work is an area where CCCs provide significant support to national forests and grasslands. Across the nation, welding students fabricate heavy steel gates for road closures, cattle guards, fire rings and Americans with Disabilities Act accessible fire rings grill tops.
Rocha was surprised at the number of attendees who were unaware of the value that Civilian Conservation Centers provide or the level of talent to be found on the centers. “I showed the leadership team very basic work we do in custom fabrication. I loved the experience showing off Pine Ridge Job Corps. More people need to know about this hidden gem.”
RLT members also engaged in discussions and demonstrations with students in the electrical, business administration, computer networking and brick laying technical trades. The students were gratified that top USDA Forest Service leaders displayed such a deep interest in their life journeys and the success they had found at Collbran, Boxelder and Pine Ridge. “It was a great experience meeting all of the head people that make Job Corps possible,” said culinary arts student Alicia Reese who is also a member of the Boxelder Job Corps Mobile Kitchen staff and who helped prepared lunch for the RLT.
The Boxelder Mobile Kitchen is a self-supporting unit that deploys to Type 3 wildland fire incidents across the West. The kitchen’s last deployment in Colorado was at the Vallecito Lake Staging Area on the San Juan National Forest where students served exactly 14,451 meals during a seven-week dispatch.
“I enjoyed working on the mobile kitchen during the open house because of how well the group worked together,” said Nyasabit Ayam, who is also an expanded dispatch recorder trainee. “It takes more than one person to make sure everything is done right.”
Each student from Collbran, Boxelder, and Pine Ridge Job Corps Centers traveled different paths to get to Job Corps, but they all enrolled with the same goal—to carve out a better life by obtaining the education and vocation training that would prepare them for successful careers. The added benefit they discovered at the Civilian Conservation Centers was the opportunity to support the nation’s public natural resources.
The Forest Service Job Corps program helps harness the enormous potential of young people, helping them improve their lives and, through civic engagement, transform rural and urban communities for the better. For nearly 100 years, the Forest Service has combined land stewardship with education and training. This mission continues forward with the Civilian Conservation Centers that, as part of the Forest Service, are caring for the land and serving the people.