The Bureau of Indian Affairs and Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (JCCCC) signed an agreement to increase fire and non-fire training and work-based learning opportunities for students on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
The agreement provides additional avenues for JCCCC students to gain employability skills and experience as they assist the U.S. Forest Service in sustaining our nation’s forests and grasslands and delivering needed benefits to the public. The students’ training and work opportunities are vast and include fuel reduction, trail maintenance, and timber marking and cruising.
“We are elated to formalize this partnership with BIA to not only support natural resource training and development, but to also create pipelines and platforms of Eastern Band of Cherokee youth to achieve career enhancement opportunities,” said JCCCC Director Jimmy Copeland. “This agreement signifies a relevant partnership with BIA focused on youth training to include supporting Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian needs on tribal lands which also may provide avenues for timber, fire and fuels support.”
The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the JCCCC have a long and mutually-beneficial history including collaboration on fire suppression efforts to protect homes and businesses on Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians land boundary.
“I am excited about our partnership with the Oconaluftee Job Corps,” said Cherokee Agency Superintendent William McKee. “I am reminded of a Henry Ford quote, ‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.’ We are looking forward to great success in this joint effort.”
This agreement comes less than a month after a complementary agreement with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Both agreements expand Oconaluftee’s capacity to provide meaningful and beneficial career-building experiences to JCCCC Students.
The Oconaluftee JCCCC borders the Tribal lands of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. The Job Corps program is the nation’s largest residential, educational, and career technical training program that prepares economically disadvantaged youth, ranging in age from 16 to 24, for productive employment. Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers are associated with national forests or grasslands and are operated by the Forest Service under an inter-agency agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor, which has the overall management of the Job Corps program.
USDA Forest Service operates 26 JCCCCs that span seven Forest Service regions, 23 national forests and grasslands and 17 states with a capacity to house, educate, and train over 5,000 enrollees. In addition to offering enrollees the opportunity to earn their high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, and enroll in college classes, JCCCCs offer vocational training in more than 30 occupations, many of which are pre-apprenticeship programs managed by international trade unions.
– BIA Cherokee Agency