AmeriCorps Members: Fire Masters

Virginia State Parks – DCR AmeriCorps member Samantha Dillon reports on a dramatic and worthwhile project performed by her team this month. “Earlier this month, our crew got to participate in our very first burn at South Quay Sandhills in Suffolk. It was an inter-agency burn, so not only did we get to work with the Pocahontas State Park AmeriCorps crew, we got to meet and work with several great people from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and Natural Heritage.” She goes on to explain, “The point of this burn was to maintain sandhill habitat for Longleaf Pine trees, which need fire to grow. The goal for the day was to burn around 700 acres, divided into several burn units with three different fire crews assigned to various units. Our crew was assigned to the largest chunk, which was around 300 acres. The burn was insane. We had several spot fires erupt, and while we got most of them extinguished in a timely manner. There was one that burned almost an entire acre off-property!” Samantha says that the day ended successfully with their ambitious goal of 700 acres burned being accomplished with no injuries or wildfire breaking out. “I absolutely LOVED this burn! It was exhilarating, and it was contributing to the health of the ecosystem. My entire career has been spent studying the animals that live in fire-dependent ecosystems, and this was my first time actually participating in a burn; it felt good to come full circle. After this burn, it is definitely in my career goals to participate in prescribed burns in the future.” 

Could AmeriCorps be just the thing you’ve been looking for? Find out more about serving as an AmeriCorps member!

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