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The residential training center was hit hard by the Riverside Fire and the pandemic.

COURTESY PHOTO: USDA BY LISA STAUDT  - An office at the The Timber Lake Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center destroyed by the 2020 Riverside Fire.

The Timber Lake Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, hit hard by the 2020 Riverside Fire, has begun welcoming students back.

"Through the concentrated effort of the staff at Timber Lake Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (CCC), coupled with the support from across the U.S. Forest Service, Timber Lake Job Corps Center has reopened," announced Tyson Arnold, director of the center.

In mid-April, the center brought back a handful of former students and seven new students.

New students are scheduled to arrive twice a month and Timber Lake has the capacity to train and teach 165 students at a time. It's actively recruiting new students.

COURTESY PHOTO: USDA BY JOY MENTGEN  - After a two year wait, electrical student Jamie Jimenez returned to the Job Corps center on April 7, to resume his training.

The Riverside Fire burned through the Timber Lake Job Corps CCC and Ripplebrook Work Center on the Mt. Hood National Forest in September 2020, causing significant damage.

Students and staff evacuated safely ahead of the fire and most of the core facilities survived. Some staff lost their homes and the campus was without water, power or reliable access for a long time. Rebuilding and restoration continue.

COURTESY PHOTO: USDA BY LISA STAUDT.  - The Riverside Fire damaged the electrical vocation building, maintenance shop and safety office.

The main road to the center, Highway 224, will reopen to the public on Sunday, May 1, also making access to Job Corps easier.

Despite the fire's disruption to their own lives, Timber Lake employees supported the Riverside Incident Management Team while the fire was still burning, led restoration efforts while supporting students through distance learning and spearheaded the long recovery process, the announcement said.

"Life isn't as easy it seems," said forestry student Christopher Riddle. "Job Corps gives me the resources that I need, and I didn't realize how hard it can be to get them in the real world. I also am able to work in the trade that I'm interested in."

Another forestry student, David Gover-Smith, said it's hard to get into the fire service.

"I've been trying to get a job with federal fire … Some students complain about being up here, but it is a decent place to live. It is a clean place to work, and it opens an easy way to find many different career paths."

COURTESY PHOTO: USDA BY LISA STAUDT  - Electrical student Jaime Jimenez, Center Director Tyson Arnold, Forestry students David Gover-Smith and Christopher Riddle stand above the lower campus vocational area damaged by the Riverside Fire.

Job Corps is the largest free residential education program in the U.S. and serves low-income, underserved students from 16 to 24 years old.

Timber Lake is one of 24 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers operated by the USDA Forest Service. All told, they have the capacity to serve over 4,000 students.

For more information on the mission of the Forest Service Job Corps Centers, visit: fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/opportunities-for-young-people/forest-service-job-corps.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining Job Corps, call 800-733-JOBS or 800-733-5627. You can also explore Job Corps training opportunities at ecruiting.jobcorps.gov/.


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