PUERTO RICO — Helping El Yunque National Forest recover and become more resilient in the years to come means preparing the next generation of Forest Service employees.
With dozens of Administratively Determined hires helping with the recovery effort, El Yunque’s leaders knew they had a highly skilled talent pool for the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Academy, but many of these individuals had never applied for a federal job or even had a resume.
With these challenges in mind, Juana Rosa, El Yunque’s partnership and volunteer coordinator, organized a workshop to help AD hires—local residents who are currently working with crews on hurricane recovery—navigate USAJobs and learn about future Forest Service job opportunities in firefighting.
“Many of the ADs can take advantage of our firefighter training, but they may have difficulty navigating the USAJobs platform, so I thought a workshop would be helpful,” said Rosa.
Members of an Incident Management Team assigned to the recovery effort and forest staff on the El Yunque also took the time to lend their individual expertise to the event.
“I offered my help with resume-building,” said Tim Murphy of the Sierra National Forest, who is providing the team’s logistics support. “These guys have gone through a disaster that took everything yet they come back with a good attitude, and I was trying to craft hope.”
In total, at least 30 ADs, veterans and contractors assisting with the recovery took advantage of the opportunity to learn how to enhance their USAJobs profiles.
“I didn’t stand a chance with my resume before. Now I feel better prepared,” said Julian Mejias, an AD hire who is interested in becoming a Forest Service wildland firefighter. “What these guys did was so helpful; it shows that they genuinely want to help Puerto Rico.”
As operations across El Yunque National Forest begin to shift toward long-term recovery, the ability to fill vacant positions will greatly enhance the forest’s efforts to reopen for public use.