Workforce Development Initiative Announced at California State Fair in Conjunction with Forest Future: Careers Among the Trees Exhibit
As California faces an ongoing threat of wildfires, the California Forest Foundation, the California Forestry Association and the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) joined forces to promote forest and fire related careers to ensure the availability of workers throughout the state to advance the pace and scale of forest management and fire mitigation. The initiative was announced at the California State Fair where the Forest Futures: Careers Among the Trees exhibit highlights a wide range of career opportunities in forest management and fire mitigation available to people of all ages, interests and backgrounds.
The need for more workers around fire prevention, education and mitigation is urgent. In 2021, over 2.5 million acres of California land burned, and 150 million trees died. The region has become a tinderbox due to drought, a bark beetle infestation that killed more than 16 million trees, and forest overcrowding that drains vital water out of the ecosystem and covers the forest floor with flammable fuel. Simultaneously, the rural economies in the region have lost the economic engines that ensure basic infrastructure to manage forests, including saw and paper mills, and woody biomass processing facilities.
Workforce development is key to California’s ability to mitigate damage from wildfires as employers struggle with staffing shortages amid a hyper-competitive labor market and an unprecedented transition in how forests are managed. The new initiative engages a diverse network of organizations, including community colleges, nonprofit agencies, and trade organizations offering training programs, certification, internships, fellowships and degrees to grow the available workforce for forest related careers.
Our forests and communities are in crisis and we can’t meet the scale of the wildfire crisis without growing our forest workforce. These green jobs are an exciting opportunity for young people to have an immediate impact on public safety as well as a legacy impact by establishing strong resilient forests for future generations.
-Jessica Morse, Deputy Secretary, Forest and Wildland Resilience, California Natural Resources Agency.
“There’s so much work to be done, but we don’t have enough people to do the work,” says Stacy Caldwell, CEO of TTCF. “Our goal is to build awareness of career pathways, and educate people about the wide range of employment opportunities available in forest management and fire mitigation for people of all ages and backgrounds. We felt the state fair was the perfect place to launch this initiative, and invite people to consider these important, meaningful careers.”
The state-wide collaboration is the latest initiative under the umbrella of TTCF’s three-year, $30M Forest Futures Campaign, a comprehensive playbook that can be replicated by other communities to align local organizations around minimizing the risk of extreme wildfires through better preparation, investment in forest health and infrastructure, and diversification of local economies.
“Today there are thousands of jobs available in forestry and dozens of ways to be a part of this important work,” says Mark Luster, Board Member of the California Forest Foundations. “Certified foresters, environmental scientists, equipment technicians, hand crews are all needed. If you want to work outside all day, or if you prefer working behind a desk, there are jobs. We hope that by featuring the organizations that are offering the training, we can entice more people to consider this career pathway.”
The 1,800 SF Forest Futures: Careers Among the Trees exhibit at the California State Fair offers visitors the opportunity to find out about programs offered by community colleges, nonprofit agencies, and trade organizations. It also features equipment used in forest management, a video display of careers in the forest and recruiters from different programs who can share details about their programs and career pathways.
“From Shasta College’s large equipment maintenance program to the Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program’s efforts to connect formerly incarcerated individuals to firefighting careers to CalPoly Humboldt State University’s forestry program to the Lake Tahoe Community College’s Fire Academy, the quantity and quality of resources available to individuals interested in pursuing careers in the forestry and fire-related space are significant,” said Matt Dias, President/CEO of the California Forestry Association.
TTCF’s Forest Futures campaign is funding forest management projects that protect the community and build infrastructure. Its grants for workforce development have provided funding to The Great Basin Institute to support housing costs and scientific field equipment for forestry crews; to The Lake Tahoe Community College Forestry and Fire Programs to fund the purchase of field equipment and fund scholarships; to The Sierra Institute for its Youth Corps Program and Long-Term Career Development; and to provide funding for The Sierra Nevada Alliance’s Mid-Level Forestry Workforce Development Program.
To learn more about careers in forestry and fire mitigation, and request additional information, visit https://www.ttcf.net/careers-among-the-trees/
About The California Forest Foundation:
The California Forest Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to educate all Californians about the benefits of sustainable forestry. Our mission is to foster public understanding of forest ecosystems in California by providing balanced, science-based information on environmental, economic, and societal uses of forest resources for present and succeeding generations.
About California Forestry Association:
The California Forestry Association (Calforests) is the statewide trade association that consists of forest owners, forest products producers and forestry professionals committed to sustainable forestry and responsible stewardship of our renewable natural resources through environmentally sound policies and conservation practices. We are dedicated to working with our members and the industry to continue our commitment in promoting high environmental standards and thriving forest practices in the wood products sector. Calforests is proud to serve as a central voice for California’s forest-resource companies and communities.
About Forest Futures:
Forest Futures is a three-year, $30M campaign to protect our communities from the devastation of forest fires by aligning local organizations around fire mitigation and investing in forest infrastructure and innovation. Through trust-based philanthropy and an integrated approach, we’re investing in forest-health to keep communities safe, diversify the local economy and accelerate innovative uses for forest waste. By safeguarding the Tahoe Truckee region we protect a vital watershed and create generational impact for all who love this special place. Our model is a comprehensive approach for community action that can be adapted anywhere to mitigate the effects of climate change, turning climate threats into regional opportunities.
About The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation:
The mission of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) is to connect people and opportunities, generating resources to build a more caring, creative, and effective community. TTCF was established in 1998 thanks to the vision of William Hewlett who loved and worked to protect the Sierra Nevada’s. In a little more than 20 years, TTCF has served the Tahoe Truckee region by identifying emerging needs and working collaboratively with regional stakeholders, donors, and nonprofits to address them strategically. TTCF holds $34 million in assets and has distributed more than $30 million, in partnership with its donors, in local grants and scholarships.