GED program supports inmate firefighters in Calif. fire camps
The Camp GED program offers a flexible, supportive learning environment for the firefighters, helping them balance their duties while pursuing their education
By Corrections1 Staff
LEWISTON, Calif. — The Camp GED program, currently hosting 120 firefighters and camp participants across 10 CDCR Conservation Camps, provides a flexible and supportive learning environment to meet this challenge.
The program, according to a CDCR news release, offers coursework through a combination of online, in-person, and independent study formats, under the guidance of the Sierra Conservation Center’s (SCC) Adult Education Teacher for Camps, Lisa Salyer.
Salyer, who took over the program in January 2023, has adapted it to serve her students, offering two-hour virtual tutoring sessions and providing individualized support for specific questions.
“Based on the feedback that I have received from my students they are benefiting from this type of instruction, especially in math,” Salyer said.
Camp participants can complete their academic work at their own pace, often moving faster after fire season. The focus on education is not only a requirement but also an expectation in many camps.
Camp Commander Lt. Ed Oberst emphasizes the importance of education, stating, “If you’re on my team, you need to know what you’re doing. To know what you’re doing, you need an education.”
When participants earn their GED, the camp staff organizes a small gathering to celebrate their academic achievement. Graduates also have the option to participate in SCC’s bi-yearly graduation ceremony and invite their family members.
The GED can serve as a stepping stone for those interested in pursuing an associate degree through the college program, offered in partnership with Columbia Community College, Coastline Community College, and Lake Tahoe Community College.
All CDCR institutions provide the opportunity to earn a high school diploma or GED and prepare students to continue their education through career technical education or college courses.
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