Garrett Way, Nick Brown and Chris Ferroni, all of Cascade, may be “typical Idaho boys” in some ways, but their summer of 2015 was been anything but routine. As participants in the Workforce Investment Act Youth Work Experience Program, the three worked on a variety of projects with the Cascade Ranger District of the Boise National Forest.
They spent time in highly traveled recreation areas and worked in remote, pristine vicinities. It’s been a combination of physical labor, forestry chores and eye-opening educational experiences, all of which have contributed to improvements in the Cascade Ranger District and to the experiences that visitors will enjoy.
The experiences help to build the futures of the three young men by developing strong work habits and learning new skills. Projects have included building and painting picnic tables, placing screens on 48 bathroom vents, working with wildlife biologists, repairing water-damaged roads and potholes, interacting with the public, posting signs, building and clearing trails, removing trees using axes and bow saws, landscaping, ditching, repairing boat ramps and much more. The overall experience has been enhanced with the day-to-day leadership of crew supervisor Eric Fieldstad and his commitment to learning and quality work.
The crew has done such an awesome job that the ranger district kept the youth working longer than initially anticipated. The young men worked with hydrologists and fisheries biologists, and they were exposed to and learning core sampling in rivers, identification of fish species and understanding the ecosystem.
Way and Brown returned to classes at Cascade High School, but they will likely continue working a few more weekends to help tie up projects.
Ferroni is the program’s only out-of-school participant, and he will soon move into an internship that will extend his experience into November.
“This has been an awesome summer and a great experience for me,” Ferroni said. “I’ve met tons of new and interesting people, and I’ve been able to see a lot of what the Forest Service does.”
He has a career interest in the Forest Service, and this experience should provide a valuable foundation for him to compete for future job openings.
“I definitely hope to get into a regular Forest Service job next season,” Ferroni said. “This has been a really good program and I know it will help me no matter what career I eventually get in to.”
Idaho Department of Labor workforce consultants Pat Rowland and Joel Castle said the Cascade Ranger District and the Labor Department have collaborated for the success of this program. The Forest Service paid wages for the crew supervisor and supplied the necessary safety equipment and transportation to the worksites. With funding from the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the Department of Labor supplied the required work boots, pants and socks, as well as the work experience wages.
“Everyone can see they had a great learning experience, kept very busy and the work experience program funding was very well spent,” Rowland said.
– Jim Thackeray, McCall Labor local office manager