Youth Earn While Learning on the Talladega National Forest

Release Date: Jul 20, 2012  

(Heflin, Ala.) July 12 ---Seven students are earning while they learn on the Talladega National Forest this summer.  The students come from different background and different roads that led them to work with the U.S. Forest Service.

Talladega National Forest District Rangers Gloria Nielsen and Karen McKenzie are excited about hosting youth this summer.  According to Gloria Nielsen, Talladega District Ranger, students are learning a great deal about conservation. “We are really impressed with the knowledge the students already have about caring for the environment,” said Nielsen.

Shoal Creek District Ranger Karen McKenzie said, “The U.S. Forest Service employs college and high school students during the summer to give students a chance to see if they want to pursue a career in natural resource management.  The program is definitely a win-win for the students and for the Forest Service.  The students get practical experience working in the forest and with the Forest Service benefits from the energy and enthusiasm of these hard-working youth.”

Following is a brief profile on the students working on the Talladega National Forest this summer:


Charles Brace

Charles Brace, a sophomore at Tuskegee University, is majoring in forestry.  Charles said he was led to the Forest Service through the Multicultural Workforce Strategic Initiative.  He loves the outdoors and working with his hands.  He is interested in the environment and how it operates and this has held his interest ever since he could remember.  He said that becoming apart of the Forest Service just seemed like the perfect career choice for him. This summer on the Talladega National Forest, Charles hopes to gain a better understanding and insight on the Forest Service as an agency and all that it has to offer.


Janay Holmes

Janay Holmes is a 22 year old from Corinth, Mississippi. A senior at Alcorn State University, Janay is majoring in criminal justice.  Janay said, “I had a classmate who did a presentation on his Forest Service internship in a criminal justice class we took together.  That same day, he persuaded me to go to an interview for a chance to work with the Forest Service in law enforcement.  I did just that and during my first summer, I interned at the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. My second summer, I interned at the Sam Houston National Forest in Texas. This summer, I am here at the Talladega National Forest.”  Janay says that she hopes to gain as much experience and knowledge on the Talladega National Forest as she can this year to help her as an aspiring law enforcement officer for the U.S. Forest Service. Janay plays in the band for ‘Sounds of Dynamite’ at Alcorn State. She is a member of the Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority.


Craig Doyle

Craig Doyle is a 21 year old from Savannah, Georgia.  Craig is a junior at Fort Valley State University, where he is majoring in agriculture economics.  He found out about the Forest Service by reading a flyer about an intern position from the 1890 program. This summer Craig hopes to learn how the Forest Service helps the environment and wildlife.  His hobbies include playing basketball and traveling.


Wyfred Phillips

Wyfred Phillips, a 19 year old from Chicago, is a sophomore at Alabama A&M University with a major in forestry.  He was introduced to the Forest Service through his brother Fredrick Phillips who is currently a Forest Service employee. Wyfred wants to gain experience with the Forest Service this summer in hopes of getting a better understanding of forestry practices.   His hobbies are playing football, working with kids, and listening to music.


Abby Ledbetter

Abby Ledbetter is a 17 year old recent graduate of Cleburne County High School.  She is a resident of Heflin, Alabama where she has lived all of her life.  Abby is the 2012 recipient of a Presidential Scholarship and will be attending Southern Union College this fall.  After two years at Southern Union, she plans to transfer to Auburn University to finish her bachelor’s degree.  Abby plans to major in agricultural economics and minor in political science. Abby heard about the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program through her high school and she applied because she loves working in the outdoors.  She hopes to learn what the Forest Service is all about.  Through the summer employment program she also welcomes more responsibility and hopes to gain time management skills to help her as she prepares for college in the fall. 


Jonathan Walker (on right) with Dan Spaulding from the Anniston Museum.

Jonathan Walker is 16 years old and attends Pleasant Valley High School in Calhoun County.  He will be a high school junior in the fall.  Jonathan is active in the schools Future Farmers of America program where he is on a forestry judging team.  Jonathan heard about the Forest Service’s Youth Conservation Corps program through his high school agricultural teacher and applied because he wants to work outdoors.  He also wanted to gain a better understanding of forestry practices.  He hopes to learn as much about the Forest Service as he can this summer.  Jonathan is a lifelong resident of  Webster’s Chapel, Alabama.   In the future, he plans to attend Auburn University and major in forestry.  He has plans to one day work for the Forest Service. 


Alexandra Kurth

Alexandra Kurth grew up in San Antonio, Texas. She graduated in May from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona with a bachelor of  science degree in biological sciences and a minor in Spanish.  Kurth is interning with the Forest Service through a partnership with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. This is her second summer with the Forest Service and she is excited to learn about all the work that goes on behind the scenes on the Shoal Creek Ranger District. Alex hopes to learn more about fire-dependent ecosystems and the natural history of the plants and animals on the district.