After leaving high school, Bryson City, NC resident Joshua Hall was unsure what the future held for him. Without a high school diploma or job training, Josh knew his options were severely limited and that he needed both education and training to be successful in life.
Thirteen months later, Hall’s prospects are unlimited. After enrolling in the nation’s largest career technical training and education program for young people, he selected the Forestry Conservation and Firefighting training program at the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Cherokee, NC. There, he completed over 200 required skills including Standard Fire Orders, timber valuation, workplace safety, natural resource management, trail construction, recreation management, silviculture, tree climbing, fire suppression, and the Incident Command System to list a few. He was also able to take his classroom work out into practice weekly. “One field project I loved was step- instillation at the USFS Whitewater Falls Recreation Area in Cashiers, NC. We were replacing old steps, learning about trail restoration, and helping lots of future visitors. It was great” Hall said.
This project was one of many in which the Forestry class was active in the local area. He was also able to give back to Bryson City through on-going silviculture work in Islands Park, helping restore the Rotary Park on Main Street, and serving on a fire line with the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee. “These are just a few of the community partnerships though which we try to serve the people and needs of our local area. As a Civilian Conservation Center, part of our mission is to be active stewards of place through conserving and enhancing natural resources” says Holly Krake, Business Community Liaison and Work-Based Learning Coordinator.
With his Forestry Conservation and Firefighting training and education, Hall was able to pursue his life goal of entering the US Army. “When I came to Oconaluftee I had nothing. I left with my GED, Driver’s License, and the training hours I needed to enter the military. It’s really incredible” Hall said at his recent graduation. He reported for duty at Fort Benning, GA on September 8th, 2010.
A student like Hall is what the Job Corps program is all about. Job Corps is a no-cost education and vocational training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 through 24 improve the quality of their lives through vocational and academic training. The Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center is operated by the US Forest Service.