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Officials at NEO entered into an agreement with the United State Forest Service that will last until Dec. 2017 with the opportunity to renew the agreement. The agreement is to “enable a cooperative effort to provide basic fire fighter training to students and to provide the opportunity to gain work experience in the area of natural resource management.”

“This agreement is really about student development, because experience is crucial in making a successful wildland firefighter,” said Reggie Bray, Zone 3 fire management officer for the Mark Twain National Forest. “This program helps students get certified as a Firefighter Type 2, so they can serve as seasonal or emergency firefighters and gain that experience.”

The training agreement takes place over several weeks in both the classroom and the field. Students completing the course receive a Firefighter Type 2 certification to fight wildland fires. This certification is accepted by many state and federal agencies, so the certification allows holders to practice throughout the nation and within the Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest. “It’s important for the students to have this certification,” said Bray. “It is a building block toward future certifications. Since we have relatively low certification in this area, it is important to enable students to earn the experience they need out west where there is a higher demand for seasonal firefighters.”

During the training, sixteen NEO students received their Firefighter Type 2 certification. The Natural Resource Ecology and Management program at NEO prepares students to either transfer to a four-year program or to move into the natural resource management career field. For more information on the program, contact Mike Neal at mneal@neo.edu. (Photo: Reggie Bray and his crew complete the field portion of the training at Twin Bridges State Park. From left: McKenzie Nygren, agriculture department interim chair; Mike Neal, agriculture instructor; Sam Mitchel; Wyatt Speer; Levi Bingham; Cheyenne Bennett; Reggie Bray, Zone 3 fire management officer Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs District, Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek District, Mark Twain National Forest, United States Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture.)

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