Angeles National Forest held its inaugural Women in Wildland Fire Training Camp from June 5 – June 9 at the Angeles Crest Christian Camp. Eleven attendees from diverse backgrounds graduated from the program with basic wildland firefighter qualifications. Graduates of the program, none of whom had prior wildland fire training, experienced life as a wildland firefighter firsthand to decide if they want to pursue a career in the field.
“We have been considering this program for some time now,” said Forest Supervisor Jeffrey Vail. “When developing this camp, we used Chief Tidwell’s guiding message of taking a fresh look at our approach to recruitment and outreach for the skill sets and diversity needed to serve the public and our mission in the 21st Century.” Over 50 candidates from across the country applied for the program. Course objectives were to provide graduates with the qualifications for wildland firefighter certification, provide women with an exposure to a new career field, and to provide mentoring opportunities.
In addition to completing the pack test and basic fire courses, attendees spent a week living together at camp. Fire leaders also resided with the students at camp, which provided an opportunity for deep personal connections to form. The students felt a sense of pride and accomplishment after graduation. In the words of one graduate, “Thank you for providing this opportunity for women. I am so grateful to have been a part of something that has great potential. I feel like I have a community there now.”