Supporting our firefighters and the rainforest through meaningful work
The Wildland Cooperative is a conservation, education and mental health initiative developed by Wildland firefighters and Eco Era. Our mission is to create a healthy, reciprocal relationship between the earth and people.
Many wildland firefighters work tirelessly for six months of the year to protect our forests, homes and communities, and their demanding work can sometimes have negative impacts on physical, mental and emotional health. These men and women work sixteen hour days for fourteen days straight and have only two days to rest and recover before going back out on another assignment. Prolonged periods of arduous labor in smokey, dangerous environments, inadequate rest and nutrition, constant vigilance, prolonged stress and cumulative fatigue can all wreak havoc on the body’s natural equilibrium. Periodic intense, life threatening situations, near misses or tragic losses can result in trauma, grief and sometimes PTSD, and without the tools or the time to process these experiences some firefighters may turn to unhealthy coping strategies. Additionally, prolonged periods away from loved ones can strain relationships, eroding social connections and their sense of belonging outside the fire community. While many seasonal firefighters look forward to visiting family, traveling or engaging in other pursuits during the off-season, some, in the absence of their two of primary sources of support (meaningful work and the camaraderie of their peers) struggle during this time.
The Wildland Cooperative is a symbiotic relationship between Eco Era and Wildland firefighters intended to mutually support the needs of our respective communities. The program creates opportunity for firefighters to pursue meaningful work in forestry, personal development and leadership that directly supports our pressing need for experienced forest technicians to aid our rainforest conservation organization. Our intention is to provide a nurturing container where meditation practice, counseling, community, rest, and harmonious time spent with nature support their decompression and grounding after months of elevated stress and strain. In addition firefighters are doing daily work in trail maintenance, essential forest pruning, making lumber from fallen trees, and building structures that support our anti-poaching and habitat conservation goals.
Because Wildland firefighters possess first-rate forestry skills, we are granted an opportunity to create program branches that reach beyond the scope of just rainforest conservation. These program offshoots give the Wildland Cooperative a chance to be in service to other communities in need of support.
Wildland Cooperative Program Branches
This is More Than Just Rainforest Conservation
Developing young males are often in need of healthy male role models to guide their passage into manhood. This program teaches young men hands-on forestry and building skills that give them an embodied practice of healthy physical expression and emotional regulation. Firefighters trained in youth mentorship guide their learning of leadership, responsibility, accountability, and work ethic. Our program guides act as positive male role models that teach developing men to embody healthy, empowered masculinity.
When we establish a solid re-connection to the earth, we adopt a more balanced and harmonious way of being in our daily lives. This program offers people hands-on educational opportunities in conservation, forestry, and building. Rainforest experts and firefighters trained in safe and effective forestry practices, guide participants into a deeper connection to the earth as an avenue toward healing and raising awareness about the importance of conserving our natural world.
Veterans have devoted their lives to being in service to their greater community, yet receive little or inadequate support in return. Oftentimes, they suffer from PTSD and trauma that is difficult to address. Similar to the Wildland firefighter community, veterans need a nurturing container in which they can rejuvenate and heal while continuing their calling to being in service to a greater cause. This program led by firefighters provides veterans with wholesome community and meaningful work that renews a sense of grounding and purpose in their lives.