SANTA FE ― The Forest Stewards Guild’s Forest Stewards Youth Corps (FSYC) Fall Fire and Fuels program kicked-off the 2019 field season with a crew member training.
Sixteen FSYC crew members ages, 18 to 25, attended the three-day training Aug. 19-23, at Cottonwood Gulch Foundation’s basecamp in Thoreau, N.M. The two crews are now spend the following 11-weeks working on U.S Forest Service (USFS) lands and learning from USFS specialists.
The FSYC program is a work-earn-learn program for young women and men to help restore New Mexico’s forests and watersheds. Throughout the fall, program participants learn the fundamentals of forest and fire ecology, receive on-the-job training and certifications in prescribed fire and fuels management, and earn a salary while completing projects on National Forest System lands.
“The combination of engaging youth and restoring our forests is really powerful” said Forest Stewards Guild Southwest Director Matt Piccarello. “Crews work on conservation projects including forest and wildlife habitat restoration and work on trails and recreation facilities. Projects facilitate development of a solid work ethic, leadership skills, understanding of USFS programs and disciplines, and an opportunity to work together with other youth of diverse backgrounds.”
For more than 20 years, the Guild and the USFS provided youth training and an introduction to natural resource management through our successful FSYC program.
During a typical year, crews complete more than 12,000 hours of natural resource management projects and more than 2,000 hours of educational sessions. More than 700 rural youth went through our program to date, many of whom attained higher education and careers with the Forest Service. Crew members will leave the program as “Red Carded” firefighters with qualifications in chainsaw safety and use, and be ready for competitive employment.
The 2019 program is made possible through support from the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps Commission, the National Forest Foundation, the Taos Ski Valley Foundation, and many others. The program is a success due to the strong partnership between the Guild and Region 3 of the USDA Forest Service, the Cibola National Forest, and the Santa Fe National Forest. Fall crews are stationed at the Espanola and Mountainair Ranger Districts.