For those of you not familiar with the Forest Service Job Corps program, it’s a training program for at-risk youth to help them learn job skills.
For some reason (“efficiency?”), the Department of Agriculture apparently wants to close some and move the rest to the Department of Labor.
Here is a piece from Michael Rains on the Evergreen website that calls the idea “incredibly short-sighted, ineffective and stupid.” I’m with Michael, and I just don’t get why of all the important potential things to fix, Perdue et al. would find one that isn’t at all broken. Like I said, I get the idea of efficiency at some superficial level (the flip chart level of analysis), but there are plenty of voices that say the Job Corps is part of the heart and soul of the Forest Service, and those voices should be listened to. The Secretary may have poked the slumbering retiree giant. When an EA or a project is long done, the spark the FS will light in a youth may brighten families and communities, and ripple through generations.
NAFSR has ideas for how to raise our voices:
We have heard from many of our members that are concerned about this decision and asked what they could do.
We would like our members to send emails with your comments to the following people in the Department of Agriculture –
Jim Hubbard – email@example.com
Campbell Shuford – firstname.lastname@example.org
We would also like you to send your comments to your congressional delegation.
You can also leave a message for Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, by clicking on this link – https://www.usda.gov/tellsonny
Here are some potential talking points:
* The importance of this program to many of the rural communities we serve.
* The long standing success of the Forest Service in not only carrying out the intent of the Job Corps program from its inception in 1964 but the importance of the “conservation centers” and the special locations and ability to connect with outdoors and involve students in conservation work including silviculture and fire management activities.
*Not recognizing the fact that this program and the Forest Service involvement is in fact a “classic” example of the vision espoused in the objective of “shared stewardship” and the Forest Service has been a leader in in this.
*The confidence that the Department of Interior placed in the Department of Agriculture in the recent past when eight of their Centers were transferred to the USDA Forest Service.
*The impact of the closing on 1,100 USDA employees who will lose their jobs or be displaced.
*The fact that many of our members have spent a good part of their careers working to make the Job Corps Conservation Centers successful through their leadership and expertise
*And lastly the manner in which this decision was made and the lack of transparency and inclusion of those impacted by the decision.
Here is a link to the NAFSR letter to Perdue.
Here is a piece by Bill Gabbert on the fire angle.
Here’s an article from Politico.
I’m also curious as to what about the FS you would improve if you were the Secretary, and interested in efficiency. I don’t think he has asked us yet 😉 but still… Mine would be to review R&D projects between NSF, EPA, Interior and Agriculture (all in-house and grants) for duplication and set in motion processes to avoid duplication in the future. Yours?