Training the next generation of wild fire fighters

Amy Conner, 39, has been a major figure in her life after 18 years as a waitress. At Santa Rosa Junior College, she has an eye on possible land management through a new program.

As other colleges in North Bay follow similar programs, the SRJC has launched a program to build a skilled workforce that experts and officials say is responding to the worsening wildfires.

Connor includes a series of courses in the first grade of the SRJC program that focus on field courses, internships and land management and fire prevention, groundwater ecology, animal grazing practices, and deforestation. , Said Dean Benjamin Goldstein, SRJC’s Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The wildfire resilience program is part of a growing movement within the state university and college system to address climate change with courses based on much-needed work in the coming decades.

Last month, the Sonoma County Superintendent Board awarded the SRJC program $ 500,000 of the remaining $ 25 million for the county’s PG&E settlement following the 2017 North Bay fire.

The grant covers three years of work experience in Shone Farms, SRJC 120 hectares of crop, farm and forest land outside Denville. The grant also provides five subsidies or college credits for practice with foreign organizations, and 300 students focus on natural resources, local horticulture and animal science courses in wildfire resilience, Goldstein said.

To the south, Dina Alina Varona, of Labor Development and Vocational Education, said the Marine College is part of a new partnership called the Fire Foundation. Fire refers to the creation, employment, and education of fire.

“We are currently working with UC Berkeley, Marin County Fire and Environmental (Community-Based Organizations) to support the design and implementation of some comprehensive, equitable-based training, including wildfires and seasonal work,” he said.

The purpose of the FIRE Foundation program is to provide emerging science and technology-based, community-based forest firefighters by providing job training and skills development for underserved, under-represented and under-funded youth in Marine County.

After completing one year with FIRE Foundry staff, participants will receive credits from Marin College for a full associate degree and / or fire safety academy.

According to Varona, the program is expected to begin next year.

Heading north, Teresa Goan, program director for Mendosino College in 2017, said Cal Fire received the Durland Fire Protection Partnership from the Mendosino County Education Office.

The course includes basic, entry-level forest firefighting training for people seeking employment with state, federal and local fire departments.

To participate, students must obtain a medical certificate from the fire program with a physician.

Goa said the program has achieved 99% of student success since the program was launched three years ago.

Upon successful completion of the course, he said, students will receive all the certificates required to enter the Cal Fire or Federal Fire Service.

“As part of this partnership, we are proud to be able to provide much-needed, well-trained wildlife firefighters to the industry,” said Gowan. Our students leave the program with the knowledge to start a quality and satisfying career.

She said the next course will be held from January 18 to March 11, 2022.

Meanwhile, Napa Valley College is also looking at a fire training program, said Holly Krasner Dawson, director of public relations and communications.

“We are currently looking for development projects and opportunities to support our Mount Veder area,” Dawson said. Mount Veder is located in the middle of the Myasas Mountains.

Back to the SRJC, the Wildfire Rescue Program also has a network of non-profit community partners focused on ecosystem management and mandated fires.

The program is also working with Sonoma County, the Conservation Corps North Bay, District Equestrian Community Services, Sonoma County Regional Parks, and Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corporation, Goldstein said.

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