Diversity among foresters

Students at the Oconaluftee Job Corps Center receive hands-on training that can lead to forestry careers. USDA Forest Service photo by James Lawler.

Currently, the USDA Forest Service operates 24 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers all over the country—with 11 in the South—to provide training and education for young people. The Job Corps mission is to help young people ages 16 through 24 improve their lives through vocational and academic training aimed at gainful employment and career pathways.

This fall, the Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis program came together with Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia, Alabama and the Oconaluftee Job Corp Civilian Conservation Center in Cherokee, North Carolina to discuss diversity in the workplace and how to increase hiring of under-represented minorities within the Forest Service. The meeting focused on building relationships with a multitude of partners.

The community college offers a two-year degree in forest technology and trains students for positions as forest technicians. This curriculum emphasizes the development of practical forestry skills. Students can participate in a broad range of field operations, such as timber cruising, control burning, stand description, development of forest management plans, and special use permit programs. Professor Adam Bowers has proposed changes to the college curriculum to prepare its graduates to successfully compete for positions within Forest Inventory and Analysis.

The curriculum at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College is preparing students for jobs with FIA. Courtesy photo by Adam Bowers.

This collaboration will deliver better education, practical research, and field-based experience for students – and thus provide students with a greater opportunity for employment.

Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis has a vision to develop students as forest technicians with an increased emphasis and focus on diversity, bringing awareness to under-represented groups and underserved communities. Doing so will help the agency meet Chief Moore’s commitment to increase hiring of recent graduates over the next few years. Of Job Corps, Chief Moore said, “Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center graduates are a precious resource available to the Forest Service to cultivate and prepare a new generation of conservation stewards to care for the land and serve people. As leaders, I would like us to make a renewed commitment to employing our Job Corps CCC graduates.”

Learn more about the Forest Service partnership with Job Corps.

For more information, email Sam Lambert at samuel.lambert@usda.gov.

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