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Sara Avatar
Renewable Resources and Energy
Graduated From: Wolf Creek
Current Employer: University of Washington Campus
Advice to future JC Students:

"The mental and physical discipline shaped by my Job Corps experience has spilled into every aspect of my professional and personal life.”

Before Job Corps, Sara had graduated from high school and completed a couple of years at community college; but she didn’t know what she wanted to do. She had taken classes that weren’t suited for her personality, and she didn’t have great direction. Her roommate found out about Job Corps, and after some long conversations, they both decided to join.

When Sara was 24 years old, they both enrolled in Weber Basin Job Corps in Ogden, Utah. She was in the Finance and Business program for 3 months and learned several essential financial skills, but it never quite clicked as a long-term career option for Sara. However, when her friend found out about the fire program at Wolf Creek Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Oregon, something just felt right.

Sara transferred to Wolf Creek to pursue the Forestry Conservation and Firefighting training. She became the crew lead in the firefighting crew. She had training on all the equipment, took chainsaw training classes, learned fire safety, received her red card, which was necessary for wildland fires, did timber cruising, marked trees, was involved with research, and so much more.

“After transferring to the Wolf Creek Job Corps, I finally understood that I needed to be working with nature, and I loved the Wildland Fire Fighting program."

“I think the world of that program [Job Corps]. I watched a lot of people turn their lives around in the process. They are 100% the reason I’m in the job I’m in today.”

Job Corps staff helped Sara get connected with a fire supervisor. She was hired for the next three summers fighting fires. Sara decided she wanted to stay in the Forest Service and went to Oregon State, where she took classes and worked on the ground crew. She already knew how to work a chainsaw, which gave her a leg up.

“If [my Job Corps instructor] had not taught me how to run a chainsaw in 1996, I have no idea what I would be doing today.”

After graduating from Job Corps, Sara got hired full time and became an arborist. She worked at Oregon State for six years before moving to Seattle, Wash., where she took the same position at University of Washington. She became the lead arborist at University of Washington.

Sara is in her 14th year at University of Washington as the urban forest specialist. She was promoted a few years ago from executing all the tree work to managing all the tree work on campus with an over 10,000-tree canopy. Sara uses not only the skills she learned in the fire program at Wolf Creek Job Corps, but also the business skills she learned from Weber Basin Job Corps throughout her career and inher job today. She is well-rounded with her technical skills and interpersonally, having worked with a diverse group of people. Sara still stays in touch with a few Job Corps students from her time on center.

“My time learning business and computers at Job Corps allowed me to streamline computer programs, build websites, and become proficient with spreadsheets, marketing, and reports. These skills set me apart from many other arborists and helped catapult my career.”

Sara most recently became a board-certified master arborist, which is the highest level you can attain. She also started her own tree consulting and tree work business because she missed the physical aspect of working on trees.