Last week, twenty-three participants attended the first ever Fire Adapted Communities Ambassador Approach workshop in Durango. This workshop was co-hosted by Fire Adapted Colorado and Widlfire Adapted Partnership in Durango with support from the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network. This was an amazing workshop which included participation from Fire Adapted Colorado members: West Metro Fire, Greater Eagle Fire, Boulder Wildfire Partners, Fire Adapted Bailey, Spanish Peaks Alliance for Widlfire Protection, and Colorado State Forest Service Partners. National participants also included representatives from Fire Adapted New Mexico, Ashland Fire (OR), Cook County (MN), Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership (AZ), and two of the seven Firewise (TM) USA Sites of Excellence pilot communities (CO, WA).
Last fall the FAC Ambassador Toolkit was launched, and this two-day training was designed to give professionals a look at the program in action by visiting with WAP’s Ambassadors and partners on a field tour the first day. The second day focused on providing support for organizations to initiate similar programs with their neighborhood volunteers in order to multiply local wildfire risk reduction efforts. The intent was not to develop new programs or replace what is already working in a place, but to leverage the existing assets of each local wildfire risk reduction agency or partner group through the development of local capacity to support volunteer Neighborhood Ambassadors, including existing Firewise USA® spark plugs, FAC NM Leaders, CERT volunteers, or newly recruited neighborhood volunteer ambassadors. Workshop participants began outlining what their programs may look like, troubleshot potential stumbling blocks, and set short-term goals during the workshop following the outline of the FAC Ambassador Toolkit.
The overwhelming majority of participants provided goals, launch plans, and workshop feedback indicating that they plan to launch or grow the neighborhood volunteer programs in their local areas using the knowledge and plans from this workshop. Those who did not are partners who are better prepared to support existing efforts or to promote the opportunity to the more place based coalitions that they engaged with.
If you would like to learn more about the FAC Ambassador Approach, please reach out to Rebecca Samulski (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ashley Downing (email@example.com). They are available to answer questions or provide mentoring to those interested in initiating a similar program in their area.