Partnership with Mutual Benefits
In the world of biology, the partnership between the Service’s Fire Management Program and AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps would be considered a symbiotic, or mutually beneficial, relationship. In 2006, Steven Hubner, the fire program’s fuels coordinator for the Northeast Region, learned of 15 young adults available as first-time wild-land firefighters through AmeriCorps’ public service program. He took the volunteers on crew assignments on four fires in Nevada and Utah.
Hubner, in partnership with funding from AmeriCorps and instructional support from Shenandoah National Park, subsequently provided classroom and field training to nearly 100 AmeriCorps firefighters. This effort has produced a ready supply of firefighters to fill staff shortages when multiple wildfires are burning in different parts of the country. The AmeriCorps crews also assist with prescribed burning programs on refuge lands in the Northeast, including the fire partnership in Virginia. All but three of the 42 red-carded, or qualified, firefighters in 2007 were deployed to some type of fire assignment; The 2008 AmeriCorps crews became available for assignments in July.
In turn, the Service provides AmeriCorps volunteers with valuable experience in responding to fires, as well as hurricanes, tornados, floods and ice storms. Several past volunteers are considering careers in fire management.
AmeriCorps, started by President Bill Clinton, is an 11-month volunteer program for people between the ages of 19 and 24. It is modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) programs in the 1930s and 1940s. Upon completion of the program, members receive a $5,000 stipend for college expenses.
AmeriCorps volunteers work on a fire as part of a handcrew.
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