We propose a scalable program to provide specialized training and development in fire sciences closely related to forest management among current undergraduate students, selected directly from partner-Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and participating HBCU students interested in graduate studies in fire-related disciplines. We propose a Summer Research and Training Fellowship (SRTF) at the undergraduate level that is tied directly to USFS Research and Development (R&D) Southern Research Station (SRS) work units. The program will be designed and implemented through a partnership among the USFS SRS, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), Southern University (SU), and North Carolina State University (NCSU). We will hold the eight-week SRTF program for 10 rising seniors from undergraduate programs in fields such as Forestry, Natural Resources, and Environmental Sciences to gain specialized training in wildfire-specific forest management, with a special focus on fire management for urban forestry impacting vulnerable communities. Training modules will include pre- and post-burn biomass assessment, hydrologic and water quality impacts of fire, air quality impacts of fire, the impact of fire on ecosystem health, geospatial analytics application to prescribed burn planning and wildland fire impact assessment, and community engagement to help vulnerable communities manage fire impacts. During the SRTF program, the students will be introduced to several pathways for a career in the USFS, including entry at the undergraduate level and careers for fire scientists with graduate degrees. The students will have an opportunity for field immersion to explore a pathway to USFS work after graduation. The participants will also receive some exposure to fire management field research and prescribed fire/fuels management plans to obtain hands-on experience and exposure to research by working with NC A&T, SU, NCSU, and USFS SRS research scientists. Participants will be brought to field sites to perform a variety of fire planning assignments and to collect data on biomass fuel assessment ahead of prescribed burns. They will then learn to analyze these data to determine the presence or absence of hazardous fuels and to predict outcomes of the burn events. The Public Land Corps (PLC) can place students with partner organizations for 640 hours of paid on-the-job training that will provide participants who complete the program with a certificate that can be used to apply for USFS positions under a 2-year non-competetive hiring authority for entry-level USFS positions (GS-3/4/5) To facilitate this path for interested SRTF participants, representatives from partner organizations (e.g., Conservation Legacy) will interface with the participants, who will be mentored on how to procure paid fire management internships through these organizations and will have an opportunity to shadow existing interns in the field. Training will occur on the campus of NCSU, cooperating experimental forest (Hill Forest, Bahama, NC), and the National Forests of North Carolina (e.g., Uwharrie National Forest), which is managed by the USFS. Mentorship sessions will be held throughout the program to give each student individual advisement on their career development strategies. Community-building activities for the student cohort in the program will develop bonds and form close friendships that will enhance both their professional and personal trajectories into adulthood. The SRTF program is expected to solidify the HBCU studentsâ€™ plans for a career related to forest management and fire impacts.
This project aims to increase public and student understanding of how aquatic ecosystem health and human health relate, and facilitate the expansion of community monitoring. The goals of the project align with WRRI, Sea Grant and KIETS strategic plans by 1) increasing student and community volunteer, hands-on research opportunities, 2) expanding collaborations to answer important public health questions, and 3) providing communities with research-based information to assist them with identifying and planning for existing public health hazards. The project is located in an underserved community in southeast Raleigh and the project team has come together to collaborate with community members to address the concern they raised regarding the pollution in Little Rock Creek.