Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Meeting USDA Forest Service capacity needs through training and career job placement


Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center students and Savannah River Site trainees Zynell Perkins and Maurice Stroman take time out from their details in the recreation program on the Sumter National Forest on April 10, 2018. Forest Service photo.

NORTH CAROLINA – In a collaboration that illustrates the effectiveness of One USDA, over 14 Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center students provided timber and natural resources support to multiple forests, districts and research stations throughout Forest Service Eastern (Region 9), Rocky Mountain (Region 2) and Southern Regions(Region 8) over the last 12 months.

This is a direct result of a Public Lands Corps agreement with Forest Service Southern Region Regional Headquarters that funds placement of four Oconaluftee Job Corps students at the Savannah River Site to prepare students for careers in recreation, fire management, wildlife conservation and timber management.

Although the Savannah River Site training emphasis is on timber, the diversity of training makes the students competitive to compete for entry-level Forestry Technician Positions. Regions 8/9 Forester and Measurement Specialist Gary J. Church certifies the students as Timber Cruisers which immediately qualifies them to apply for federal career positions.

This partnership led directly to Oconaluftee graduate Zynell Perkins’ career job placement on a newly created Region 9 Strike Team member on June 11, 2018, preparing areas of national forest for timber sales. In late spring, Oconaluftee Job Corps graduate Matthew Sullivan accepted a career position as a forestry technician in the Pacific Northwest Region and began work in April 2018.

The students’ food, lodging and transportation costs are funded by Region 8, which allows four Oconaluftee Job Corps students to live and work on the unit for four-to-six month periods and earn the opportunity to compete for career positions within the Agency. New Oconaluftee students are rotated through the program as other students depart and additional slots open up. 

This partnership helps national forests and grasslands meet their targets while empowering Oconluftee students to both give back and pursue a career with the Agency. The opportunity for Oconaluftee students to work on multiple forests and districts builds their skills sets and exposes them to USDA Forest Service culture.

The partnership between Oconaluftee Job Corps and Region 8 is changing lives one student at a time, while meeting USDA’s program delivery strategic goal and two of the USDA Forest Service’s national priorities. We are growing stronger by sharing stewardship to ensure USDA programs are delivered efficiently, effectively, and with integrity and a focus on customer service.