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RMYC Debuts First-Ever All-Women’s Fire Mitigation Crew  

Who says fire mitigation is man’s work? Certainly not Steamboat’s Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, which debuts its first-ever, all-women fire mitigation crew.

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Led by crew leader Taylor Roe, 23, who led a youth trail crew last summer and is fresh off a winter stint leading a women’s fire crew in South Carolina for the Student Conservation Association, the crew includes Addy Jones, 20; Nyelli Lara-Guiterrez, 23; Zoey Norwalk, 19; Soraia Bohner, 18; Grace Miller 21; Emma Griffith, 19; KT Jenkinson, 21; and assistant crew leader Davis Turner, 23. Together, they’ll work 10 weeks in the field throughout Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, including the Thunder Basin Grassland in Wyoming.  

“It’s a great crew, we’re all really close,” says Roe, originally from southern California. “It’s a bunch of amazing women and everyone gets along really well.” 

The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is grateful for the help, no matter the gender.  

“It’s super unique to have such a team,” says Chris Green, assistant fire management officer for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, fresh from the field cutting with the team in Fox Park, Wyo. “It’s a pretty male-dominated profession, so whenever we can help get an opportunity to increase diversity it’s pretty special.” 

As for the workload, he adds, there’s no favoritism. “They’re all out there doing the same job, which can be pretty hard at times,” he says, adding that all fire mitigation crews undergo rigorous training before being turned loose in the field. “All seven of this year’s RMYC fire mitigation crews, including the women’s crew, has progressed way better than I would have projected this early on in the season. The women’s crew is no different from any other crew. They’re doing a lot of the work we don’t have the capacity to handle.” 

Despite the workload, Roe says their camaraderie couldn’t be any better. “There’s a special dynamic when it’s all women, we feel really comfortable around each other,” says Roe. “It’s really empowering. It’s nice to be around other women and feel supported while you’re learning something new. It’s a super bad-ass team. We’re a saw crew just like anyone else, but even better.” 

RMYC program manager Ashley Roscoe says the word got out early on the team and that applicants came flooding in. “We had quite a bit of interest in it,” she says. “We had way more applicants than we could fill.” As for any potential discrimination in such a male-dominated profession, she adds some of it comes with the territory, it seems, but that the women shrug it off and get to work. “They’ve faced a little discrimination in the field from other fire workers, but it just fuels their fire to work even harder,” she says. “And unlike being in a mixed crew, it’s almost even a better learning environment because they all have each other to lean on.” 

This bonding has paid off in the field, where conditions can test the mettle of even veteran crew members. “We’ve had some really interesting weather to deal with this year,” says Roe, adding one night the crew got completely flooded out of their camp, with more than four inches of standing water in their tents, with everyone having to squish into the RMYC van for the night. “It was a crazy thunder and hailstorm outside of Osage, Wyoming. Locals call it O’Soggy. Everyone was pretty soggy in the morning, but it was fun because we were all in it together.” 

Sidebar: RMYC’s Ladies Youth Crew 
The RMYC’s all-women fire mitigation crew joins the organization’s new Ladies Youth Crew this summer, allowing women-identifying youth to learn how to work in conservation with the support of like-minded women. Among other projects, the Ladies Youth Crew conducted trail work on Frisco, Colo.’s Peninsula Recreation Area (PRA) this summer, jointly managed by the Town of Frisco, the U.S. Forest Service and Denver Water and at 807 acres the largest municipally owned recreational feature in Summit County. Trail improvements performed by the crew included a 1,500-foot extension of the Perimeter Trail near the Nordic Center as well as building the 750-foot hiking-only Little Lottie trail. Learning “Leave No Trace” principles, team building, and leadership and communications skills, the crew also partook in daily educational sessions called Something Educational Every Day (SEED), teaching members how their projects impact nature and human communities, as well as how to meal plan, set camp, identify personal and professional strengths, career opportunities and more. With preference given to Colorado teens, the women’s youth crew members range in ages from 14-18, working 32 hours per week during the paid program. On the weekends, the crew took on various adventures locally. 

About Rocky Mountain Youth Corps 
RMYC is one of the many corps in The Corps Network and is one of eight accredited corps with the Colorado Youth Corps Association. Established in 1993 by the City of Steamboat Springs, RMYC was created to fill the community demand for more youth employment, education, and recreational opportunities. RMYC engages teens and young adults, ages 11-30 years of age, in the outdoors by providing programs to inspire individuals to use their strengths and potential to lead healthy and productive lives. RMYC teaches responsibility for self, community, and the environment through teamwork, meaningful service opportunities, educational experiences, and employment. RMYC’s programs focus on supporting youth success, a sustainable environment, and providing experiences to over 500 youth annually. 

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