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Women in Fire Boot Camp

elysia smiling with BLM fire truck
Do you have what it takes to be a wildland firefighter? The work can be physically demanding: long days; proximity to fire and smoke; and primitive living conditions. However, it is incredibly rewarding, and with climate change, wildland firefighters are needed now more than ever.

SFRC grad student Elysia Lewis recently attended the Women in Fire Boot Camp hosted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Vale, Oregon. Elysia is no stranger to fire – she has worked prescribed burns at UF’s Natural Areas Teaching Laboratory and is a member of Dr. Crandall’s Fire Ecology Lab.

The boot camp was created by Vale BLM in 2018 to encourage more women to join the field. Training took place over two weekends in October, and covered firefighting techniques; suppression equipment; safety, strategy, and tactics; and fire behavior. Participants also enjoyed presentations from guest speakers representing the Forest Service and BLM.

“It was such an empowering and humbling experience to learn from women in leadership roles, defying stereotypes in the (most often) male dominated field and expressing their endless passion for saving public lands and educating others on the importance of fire prevention,” said Elysia. “The camp’s inclusive, supportive culture and diversity in intellect, talent and perspective has given me the confidence to seek more challenging opportunities and increase representation of women/women of color in STEM.”

scenic landscape view

Interested in attending a future Women in Fire Boot Camp? Contact Cassandra Fleckenstein at candrews@blm.gov or 541-473-6295.