The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is the largest provider of hands-on environmental conservation programs for youth and young adults. The SCA is teaming up with the U.S. Forest Service to confront the current climate-driven wildfire crisis the the SCA Wildland Fire Academy.

By joining forces, the SCA and the Forest Service want to increase the number of women and people of color entering the field while also increasing the overall number of trained wildland firefighters and fuels staff entering the profession. Those who are Black, Alaskan Native, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic or any other racial minority are highly encouraged to apply.

Twenty-four participants will be selected for the 2024 Wildland Fire Academy beginning March 4, 2024. Participants will start the program together for two and a half weeks of training, including orientation, Wilderness First Aid training, and several certification courses to obtain the federally recognized fire qualifications with the Forest Service. Program participants will also receive rigorous training for chainsaw operations to become certified entry-level chainsaw operators.

After training, participants will be placed in pairs at national forests across the western United States most impacted by the wildfire crisis for the remainder of their internship portion of the Academy. During the internship, participants will gain hands-on experience with prescribed burns and fuels reduction work while embedded with Forest Service staff. Following a brief break in early June, participants will return to form four-person fuels reduction crews at national forests from mid-June – to mid-September.

Prescribed burns and fuels reduction work are crucial for preventing wildland fires since varying plant materials, including grasses, shrubs, trees, dead leaves and fallen pine needles, can fuel wildfires. As these flammable materials pile up, so do the chances of catastrophic wildland fires. In the right conditions, excess fuel allows fires to burn hotter, larger, longer and faster, making them more difficult and dangerous to manage, making it essential to have trained wildland firefighters and fuels staff at the ready.

The Forest Service has been managing wildland fires on National Forests and Grasslands for more than 100 years. As the wildland fire management environment has changed, there are now longer fire seasons, bigger fires, extreme fire behavior and more wildfires closer to residential areas.

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