In the Forest Service’s own words: the value of the Job Corps

“We’re really fortunate on the Colville National Forest to have a Job Corps so close by. They are just an incredible asset.”

USFS Job Corps Video
“We’re really fortunate on the Colville National Forest to have a Job Corps so close by. They are just an incredible asset. What we saw the Job Corps do today was actual firefighting when we need it most in the summer time when our normal crews are stretched fairly thin. It’s nice to have a skill set that we know is tested because they’re on the forest, we’ve seen their work, they’re a proven product. “

In light of the Administration’s decision to shut down 9  Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers operated by the U.S. Forest Service and transfer the remaining 16 to the Department of Labor we did a little research and found a video (below) produced by the Forest Service that goes to great lengths to praise the Job Corps and extol the benefits received by agency.

The images in this article are screengrabs from the video and the captions are transcriptions of the audio by the FS employees pictured. Unfortunately the video did not give the names of anyone shown.

USFS Job Corps Video
“In my opinion our mission is to help the Forest Service with their mission, whether we’re doing welding for gate closures, or building picnic tables, or cleaning a campground. We remove hazard trees from the campground. We thin the forest and get them into the right mix of trees and density that they should be. It’s just a perfect relationship.”
USFS Job Corps Video
(From Bill Gabbert: After this video was produced one of the Centers was transferred to the Department of Labor, reducing the total to 25.)

USFS Job Corps Video

USFS Job Corps Video

USFS Job Corps locations map
Map of the 25 Job Corps Centers operated by the U.S. Forest Service. As of May 25, 2019 nine are slated to be closed and the others transferred to the Department of Labor.


Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

17 thoughts on “In the Forest Service’s own words: the value of the Job Corps”

  1. Yes, they [the Forest Service Job Corps Program] are an incredible asset. They won’t be if transferred to the Department of Labor. Even I know that. Please, join me in standing up against this incredibly ill-advised, short-sighted path. Notify all who “decide” and let them know this cannot happen.

    1. These closures may likely go the way of the shuttered Homestead Job Corps in Miami and become an immigrant detention center.

    2. Forget trying to reason with the “decision-makers” in the Forest Service, USDA or DOL. The Forest Service probably gave Sonny a half-hearted overlong PowerPoint presentation that he wasn’t even paying attention to. Sonny wanted to help the swamp masters earn more so he sold the Centers down the river. And the DOL all but admitted in their release that they had already made up their minds before the ink was dry on the letter.

      The real decision-makers are our elected representatives in Congress. We all need to tell them the value of this program. From the life-changing and life-saving success stories to the value of the work these students do in communities on the National Forests.

  2. The Job Corp, Ameri Corp, and Conservation Corp charge a pretty penny to administer their programs. In turn they pay the employees peanuts. I work with Ameri Corp employees that get paid $12/day and after their 6-10 program often get less than $2000 for college tuition.

    I’ve overseen and administered project work and red carding for these programs; it is a disaster. They have high turnover and production suffers. The work is slightly cheaper but also sub-par. The amount of money that goes to overhead instead of employees is really unfair.

    I worked with a CCC crew that was solid, and did good work but many quit because they made $300 a week. They also camped out and ate pretty basic food. Once they saw what USDA and DOI emoployees made for the same work they quit. Their cost per acre of treatment was not much less than a contractor or cooperator. The contractors and cooperator employees were earning more in a day as the CCC kids were in a week.

    I love the idea of these programs, but they charge inflated $$ compared to other options. I feel these programs promise so many things that never materialize. I make a point to recruit and hire many of these kids because they are hard workers and are beyond happy to be able to afford dinner with a couple beers in town after a days work.

    1. You need to research your topic before writing about. Americorps is a volunteer program like peace corps or vista, the ycc is also partially voluntary. Job corpkids get paid for working on fires and do great work. They get red carded, ive been working on fires for over 30 years and have never heard of a ccc(ya mean ycc?) or americorps person getting red carded! Job Corps get trained for trades, they do a ton of work for the rural communities where they are located for government and non profit, the instructors are paid like other gov employees.

  3. The program was underfunded. Trainees were not given enough trading or good equipment. To my knowledge there was not a determined effort to transition workers to full time organized hot shot crews.

    1. Job Corp centers are rated on student placement. The forester students get jobs with the forest service, ive worked with a bunch, they also get higher paying jobs in urban forestry, contract firefighting and other things. I know several hot shots that went to job corps, but you don’t just waltz into a job on a hot shot crew. You have to work in the fire organization first. Being a job corps student can help get your foot in the door.

  4. It would be a B I G mistake to close any jobcorps ! I am a product of one (Keystone Job Corps in Drums pa.) It was a path for me to call my own as the Baby of 9-siblings, it was my time to spread my wings so to speak – It gave me a voice of my own to and a courage to “do me” / I was so close off from life – my neighborhood was infested with drugs / Alcohol – all to say when I signed up -I told the recruiter to send me far away from home – *FROM W.VA TO KEYSTONE WAS JUST WHAT I NEEDED * need to work on me ! THANK YOU JOB CORP FOR A JOB WELL DONE !!!

  5. It would be a grave mistake to shut these centers down. I was a part of the Natural resources trade and on Job Corps Fire Crew at Trapper Creek Jobs Corp one of the centers shown in this video. I did my on the job training with the Bitterroot Hot Shots. Some of the best training I have received in my life came from being a aprt of Job Corps. Also some of the best times of my life happened while I was there. I have made life long friends from my fellow students. Please do not shut these centers down or transfer them to the department of labor. I would not be where I am in life if not for the lessons and teachings I learned in Job Corps.

  6. Job Corps is a 55 year old program with its roots in the old CCC camps. A program build to serve underserved rural communities while also providing an escape for young people trapped in unhealthy urban conditions. We get them away from their negative distractions, give them space to start over, a safe place to sleep and three squares a day, helping them finish school and removing all other barriers to their employment. Some of these kids come to us literally straight off the streets – I check their bags on input, and they don’t even own a change of clothes. They leave a year or so later with high school diploma, trade certifications, on-the-job experience, and a nice little nest egg savings for transition.

    Job Corps was never intended to be a destination for these students, but rather a chance to hit their life reset button and find an alternative path. In regards to forestry, it gives them a foot in the door to a world they’ve never seen before. After six months to a year in Job Corps, much of that spent on the job training, many go on to careers with the Forest Service, Park Service, or back home to work in related fields (many of our students work for Asplundh in their home towns).

    In any case, getting these kids away from the influences that were holding them back, taking away the distractions to finishing their education… These are critical factors that should not be glossed over or dismissed. Even the ones who don’t appear to appreciate it in the moment will often write us later to tell us how it changed their lives. Job Corps CCC are a proud tradition we should not give up without a fight.

    1. Well said. I am privileged to wirk with these students. I want so much more for them then this.

  7. The effects of getting young people involved in this kind of service work go way beyond the obvious and immediate. For someone growing up lost and maybe low self-esteem, this kind of work is positively life changing! Transformative! They learn to think of themselves in new ways!

  8. The CCC jobcorps need to be saved. They not only help with firefighting, they are also sent out on other disasters that happen in the US. Great training g for our youth but also a great asset for the local communities of the CCC job Corps center.

  9. Unfortunately, Job Corps was never able to fit in with Forest Service administrative and professional requirements. We made a lot of videos and press releases like this one extolling the wonders of a program we owned and tried so hard to like. There was no bridge from Job Corps to the Forest Service for students, no hiring authority, and no good fit with the staff. This is the kind of sugar we used to make the medicine go down. The Forest Service will be sad for a bit but will not regret losing Job Corps. Forest Service leaders jettisoned Job Corps, not Perdue. Sonny could care less.

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