Teaching leadership through prescribed fire

U.S. Fish & Wildlife employee Annalee Graves takes a moment to assess the progress of a prescribed fire during training in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo courtesy the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)


From early January to late March, the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center (PFTC) held three Fire Leadership for Women training modules in Tallahassee, Florida. This year, for the first time since its inception, two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees attended the training: Annalee Graves, Assistant Engine Module Leader at the Inland Northwest Refuge Complex in Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in Cheney, WA; and Krysten Bauer, Range Technician at Morris Wetland Management District in Morris, MN. 

PFTC modules encourage leadership using prescribed fire as a catalyst to bring women together to become strong and assertive leaders. Women learn to challenge themselves, enhance strengths and improve weaknesses, and create a support network. 

“I gained new women as companions and peers,” said Bauer. “I never get to meet women like me at work and it means so much to have a group of peers I can talk to about fire.”

Women make up only 10 percent of wildland firefighters. PFTC seeks to enhance longevity and success for women in wildland fire management through these trainings. Training exposes students to differing prescription styles, policy, and leadership to expand their experiences in fire.

“I learned to associate tact with vulnerability, allowing me to address peers and leadership with a command presence,” said Graves. “These skills are important for becoming a better leader for women in fire, as well as men.” 

Prospective students can apply for the 2021 sessions starting in July through October15, 2020. For more information about PFTC's Fire Leadership for Women training modules, visit their website or contact the Center's Director Roberto Trincado, roberto_trincado@fws.gov.

Kari Cobb is the acting public affairs officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the National Interagency Fire Center.