Last month, the Natural Areas Training Academy (NATA) was pleased to collaborate with the Florida Park Service (FPS) to offer for the very first time a 100% virtual Florida Fuels & Weather fire training. This training, typically offered in person by FPS, had to be cancelled earlier in the year due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. After several conversations with Fire Program Coordinator Sasha Ernst (FPS), the decision was made to offer this training in a virtual manner via Canvas and Zoom. Participants jumped on the opportunity to take this training, even if it wasn’t offered in its typical environment with “conversations around the coffee table”.
39 people completed the training, comprised of two required components: first, approximately 6 hours of recorded video lectures, self-assessments, and a discussion board through an e-learning portal called Canvas, and second, attendance during the live virtual portion of the training via Zoom. During the live virtual portion, participants worked through fuel model exercises with instructor Jeff DiMaggio (FPS). Participants were given the opportunity to ask questions/clarification regarding the content they learned during the training. Post-training evaluation results overwhelmingly suggest the ability to work at their own pace was what participants liked most about this virtual training. In addition, 92% of participants said they would recommend this training to others.
Due to the training’s success and being so in-demand, we hope to work with the Florida Park Service next year to offer this training again. To stay informed regarding upcoming NATA training opportunities, join our listserv here or visit our website to learn more about our program here.