Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Blackwell Job Corps students provide essential support during storm clean-up effort

WISCONSIN – A July 19, a storm event caused significant damage to portions of the Lakewood-Laona Ranger District on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

On July 21, Blackwell Job Corps students began assisting with storm recovery efforts, providing 5-8 students per day throughout the entire week. Their primary job was to assist USDA Forest Service sawyers to remove cut-up materials out of the center of blocked roads, as well as recreation areas. They also helped clean areas around the Lakewood Ranger District Office, which had downed limbs.

The students provided logistical support, such as loading coolers, which was important in terms of the safety of recovery crews.

At one point, Blackwell Job Corps Center provided an additional 30 students who conducted separate operations for the Oconto County Emergency Management group. They provided logistical support to the Incident Command Post and removed cut-up materials from roads.

Student volunteers help clear logs
Blackwell Job Corps students assist sawyers removing cut-up materials out of the center of blocked roads and recreation areas on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest’s Lakewood-Laona Ranger District. USDA Forest Service photo.
Student volunteers helping clear road
Blackwell Job Corps students assisting with storm recovery efforts, clearing roads and recreation areas on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest’s Lakewood-Laona Ranger District. USDA Forest Service photo.

The students served under a Public Lands Corps Agreement where they received credit hours toward a merit hiring certificate, which they are eligible to receive after 600 hours of acceptable work. This provides them the opportunity to compete for merit vacancy announcements within the federal government for positions they are qualified for. The students also received a daily stipend to help cover food costs. 

The students that assisted the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Lakewood were part of the Wildland Firefighter Training Program at Blackwell and typically respond to all-hazard incidents. This presents an opportunity to build skills and confidence in their abilities to respond to disasters.

To date, 56 Blackwell students have supported various events including wildfires, prescribed burns and all-risk event response this year.
Job Corps is a tuition-free training and education program that connects eligible young men and women with skills and educational opportunities they need to establish real careers.

The Blackwell Job Corps Center, located in the town of Blackwell, Wisconsin, is associated with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The Center serves about 160 students living and training on its residential campus.