For the last seven years, the National Forest Foundation has partnered with the Conservation Corps of Long Beach (CCLB) to employ local Black and Latino youth as Junior Field Rangers. The Junior Field Rangers program work across three Southern California National Forests, the Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland, to provide Southern California youth of color from low-income backgrounds with employment to foster the next generation of forest stewards.
Due to the limitations of the pandemic, the Junior Field Rangers program had to change a bit, but thanks to the support of REI and the REI Foundation, ten CCLB corpsmembers were employed for ten weeks as Junior Field Rangers on the Cleveland National Forest. Our partners at the CCLB ensured that all necessary precautions and safety measures were taken on a weekly basis to ensure the health and safety of all participants throughout the course of the program.
As Junior Field Rangers, each participant learned about their local National Forests and careers in natural resource management, and conducted trail maintenance across several popular trails in the Trabuco Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest.
The Junior Field Rangers’ trail work over the course of the program was essential given the unprecedented visitation the Forest has experienced during the pandemic. They cleared brush and picked up litter to enhance the recreation experience among some of the Trabuco’s most popular trails and campgrounds.
Thanks to the support of the U.S. Forest Service, participants were able to meet with Forest Service staff to learn about different career pathways. Cleveland National Forest fire crews even took the time to demonstrate common management practices and share how Junior Field Rangers can pursue these careers.
In addition to their on-the-ground experiences, Junior Field Rangers also participated in a ten-week California Naturalist training. These courses were through University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and prepared each participant with knowledge of California ecology, communication and interpretation skill development, and a California Naturalist certification. While participants were unable to practice their new communications skills due to COVID-19 restrictions, they will carry these skills in their future career.
We are proud of the hard work and dedication each corpsmember, and look forward to supporting their future endeavors as forest stewards and certified California Naturalists!