Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen, Schenck Job Corps celebrate number one ranking


From left, Forests of North Carolina Forest Supervisor Allen Nicholas, USDA Forest Service Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen, Southern Research Station Director Rob Doudrick, and Southern Region Acting Regional Forester Ken Arney preserve the memory of their visit by posing alongside the Schenck Job Corps sign. USDA Forest Service photo by Marvin Ramsey.

NORTH CAROLINA – “Look for the fire that burns within you and gives you the juice. You are capable of doing anything you put your mind to.” USDA Forest Service Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen offered these words of advice to the students at Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, located on the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.

Christiansen journeyed to Schenck Job Corps Center on September 26, 2018, to congratulate the students and staff on the center’s remarkable Program Year 2017 performance. The center’s program year ended on June 30, 2018 and resulted in it being ranked as the number one Job Corps Center out of 123 nationwide. Not only did Schenck achieve the number one overall ranking, it also ranked number one in graduate job placement.

Having also been recognized as the number one center in 2014, this is a repeat performance for Schenck within a span of five years. Job Corps Centers are evaluated on weighted measures and performance goals that include credential and high school diploma attainment, job placement and wages.

Along with Schenck, eleven other Forest Service Job Corps Centers--Flatwoods, Trapper Creek, Frenchburg, Blackwell, Centennial, Curlew, Wolf Creek, Weber Basin, Anaconda, Pine Knot and Lyndon B. Johnson--finished in the top 50 of the 123 Job Corps Centers.

“Having the Chief here is really cool,” said Rosalyn Velasquez, a member of Schenck’s Advanced Fire Management Program and its associated Davidson River Initial Attack Crew. The DVR has built a stellar reputation with its 100% graduation rate and consistent graduate job placement into career positions with the Forest Service and other public lands management agencies. The DVR students were impressed that, like them, Christiansen began her career as a wildland firefighter and has now risen to the heights of her current position.

Christiansen was enthusiastic about the value Civilian Conservation Centers bring to the Forest Service. In PY17 alone, Job Corps students contributed 42,912 hours to national forests and grasslands project work. These hours equate to a dollar contribution of $1,059,497. Additionally, Job Corps students have contributed approximately 460,000 hours to wildland fire support and 5,000 hours to hurricane support.


Having begun her career as a wildland firefighter and state forester, Forest Service Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen, recalls her classes studying fire behavior with members of the Davidson River Initial Attack Crew. USDA Forest Service photo by Marvin Ramsey.

Christiansen offered wise advice to the students on how to approach a job as they begin their careers. “Good leaders first learned to be good followers,” she stated before sharing this fable. “One day a traveler came upon three bricklayers and inquired what are you doing? The first one replied ‘laying these brick,’ the second one replied ‘working as a member of this team’, while the third replied ‘I’m part of this team that is building this grand cathedral.’” Christiansen ended by saying, “The moral of the fable of ‘The Three Bricklayers’ is that we all have our roles.”

Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers changes lives one student at a time by equipping them with valuable skills to help them find jobs and support the nation’s economy. Along with supporting the Forest Service national priority of promoting shared stewardship, Civilian Conservation Centers also provide critical support to their local communities and, in PY17, volunteered 60,274 hours to community projects, equating to a dollar contribution of $1,488,156.


From left, Davidson River Initial Attack Crew enjoy a picture with Forest Service leaders. Southern Research Station Director Rob Doudrick, Southern Region Acting Regional Forester Ken Arney, USDA Forest Service Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen, Schenck Job Corps Davidson River Initial Attack Crew members David Williams, Joseph Mousseaux, Austin Griffin, Cortney Brown, Christopher Sanchez, Osman Guzman-Reyes, Abdusalam Ibrahim, Joseph Woods, Richard Alidon, Trevon Lindsay, Dylan Hobbs, Lerron Dugars, Trey Brandenburg, Walter Moore, Shavonte Crosby, Taj Pham, Richard Bostic, Rosalyn Velasquez, Patrique Hall, Samuel Leach, Schenck Job Corps Works Program Officer Kenneth Barton, Job Corps National Office Acting Assistant Director Jimmy Copeland, and National Forests of North Carolina Forest Supervisor Allen Nicholas. USDA Forest Service photo by Marvin Ramsey.