Blackwell Job Corps Wildland Fire Program students supporting Shawnee National Forest

Release Date: Mar 8, 2017  

Two Blackwell Job Corps Wildland Fire Program students supporting Shawnee National Forest

RHINELANDER, Wis. (March 8, 2017) – Two student wildland firefighters from the Blackwell Job Corps Center near Laona are headed to southern Illinois to support the Shawnee National Forest.

The eight person module includes employees from the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Blackwell Job Corps Center, Golconda Job Corps Center and the Shawnee National Forest. The module left Wisconsin on Wednesday. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the students,” said Lee Jensen, Assistant Fire Management Officer for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Job Corps Fire Program. “All of the hard work and training these students have done will be put to the test on this trip.”

The module will receive their specific assignment once they arrive in southern Illinois. In general they will be supporting prescribed burns and staffing current wildfires.

Kevin Gow is one of the Blackwell students headed to southern Illinois and shared that he is excited about the opportunity to get real experience.

“After enduring all the physical and classroom training, I am very excited to experience firefighting first hand,” said Gow. “I am living proof that if you set your mind to something, great things can happen.”

The Forest Service started the wildland firefighter training program at Blackwell in October 2014. Since then, more than 80 have been certified as Wildland Firefighters and 65 are participants in the program working towards their certification.

In past years, Blackwell student firefighters have supported fire staffing needs, wildfire suppression efforts in Washington, Oregon, Illinios, Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Montana and Wisconsin, prescribed burns all over the upper Midwest and various fuels reduction projects.  

The Blackwell Job Corps, located in the town of Blackwell, Wisconsin, is associated with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The center serves about 160 students living and training on its residential campus.  Nationally, the Forest Service manages 28 Job Corps centers in 18 states. 

Blackwell offers training in office automation, carpentry, construction crafts, health occupations, masonry and welding. Additionally, students can earn their high school diplomas either through a partnership with a local high school, online or through General Educational Development (GED) or High School Equivalency testing.