Great Smoky Mountains National Park and U.S. Forest Service officials gathered to announce the re-establishment of an important partnership between the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (JCCCC) and the park. The two organizations signed an agreement establishing a pathway for career developmental opportunities for youth.
“We are fortunate to have the Oconaluftee Job Corps Center in our backyard,” said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “This partnership will allow hard-working youth an opportunity to acquire important, trade skills as they work alongside park staff. These skills can help them transition into the workforce of tomorrow.”
This partnership will provide robust training opportunities for students which will enable them to support the National Parks commitment to the preservation and conservation of our public lands. Students will receive on-the-job training and hands-on experience by working jointly with national park staff in the protection of resources, prescribed fire, facility maintenance, and administration.
“We are truly elated to partner with the National Park Service,” said Oconaluftee Job Corps Center Director Jimmy Copeland. “This partnership brings education, awareness, and training opportunities to our youth thus creating pipelines for employment and resource awareness in their future. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an integral part of the success of our center and we are excited to work more closely with them in serving our communities.”
Over the past 30 years, students from the Oconaluftee JCCCC have assisted the park in the removal of exotic plant species, treatment of forest insect pests, facility construction, and wildland fire fighting. Some students have gone on to receive seasonal and permanent employment with the National Park Service. This renewed partnership will allow students to receive important certifications along with job training.
The Oconaluftee JCCCC is nestled within Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Cherokee, NC. 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 (JCCCCs) 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 international trade unions.