An agreement was signed capturing the collaboration of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) North Carolina Cooperative Extension and U.S. Forest Service Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (JCCCC) on Thursday, Aug. 31. This agreement provides framework for Oconaluftee JCCCC to provide support in the cultivation of crops, irrigation, and planting of food for both the Center and local communities.
The EBCI North Carolina Cooperative Extension Program will provide training for youth in the areas of pesticides, canning, financial literacy, and cultural horticulture.
“This collaboration allows youth to give back to their community and learn of the cultural significance of natural resource awareness and value,” said Jimmy Copeland, Oconaluftee Job Corps Center director. “It also allows youth to learn skills that will impact their lives and our environment forever. We are excited to partner with the EBCI North Carolina Cooperative Extension Program.”
Ronald “Chumper” Walker, EBCI Cooperative Extension director, stated, “The Oconaluftee Job Corps Center and Cooperative Extension have been a part of the Cherokee Community for some time. It is important for programs like ours to work together so that the knowledge and expertise of such long standing programs can benefit not only each other, but our community as a whole. I am excited to see the results.”
The Oconaluftee Job Corps Center most recently signed agreements with Cherokee Central Schools and the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Cherokee Agency. These agreements created pipelines for Cherokee youth and young adults to acquire training in multiple vocational areas to include natural resources, fire and forestry, certified nursing assistant, office administration, electrical, and building and construction technology.
“This partnership truly connects youth with our Forest Service Mission of Caring for the land, and Serving People,” commented Copeland. “Our lands have value and our stewardship of them are critical to the future.”
– U.S. Forest Service