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Adult Opportunities

Chicago Wilderness Prescription Burn Crew Training

Gain the skills and knowledge to participate safely in using prescribed fire for conservation and land management.

Content Detail

Chicago Wilderness Alliance offers the Midwest Ecological Prescription Burn Crew Member Training class through The Morton Arboretum. Based on the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s (NWCG) S-130 and S-190 courses, this two-day training covers the basics of topics such as fire behavior, controlled burn techniques, and smoke management. The objective is to provide participants with the background necessary to safely participate on the crew of a controlled burn.

Please be aware that although the training is accepted by many of the natural resource management agencies in the Chicago Wilderness region as the minimum training required for a participant on a burn crew, it does not carry the official NWCG certification. This class can be taken as a supplement to the Natural Areas Conservation Training Program in natural areas management.

This class will take place in person and mostly indoors at The Morton Arboretum and will include presentations by expert instructors, live class discussions, and an in-person final exam. There will be breaks throughout the day and a lunch break in the middle of the day; please bring your own lunch and water bottle.

This program meets in person at the Arboretum.

Instructor: John McCabe, director, Department of Resource Management, Forest Preserve District of Cook County; Jay Johnson, district site operations manager, Forest Preserves of DuPage County

Continuing Education: This class fulfills a requirement for the Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program. Learn more about N-ACT.

Age: 16 and older

Course number: W500

John McCabe, director, Department of Resource Management, Forest Preserve District of Cook County

John McCabe has worked for the Forest Preserves since May of 1990. He has participated in over 500 fires and is recognized as an expert in conducting prescribed burns and wildfire suppression in the urban environment. He coordinates restoration projects and manages the Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan, which sets forth the Forest Preserves’ land management direction for the next 25 years. He loves his job, as every day is an adventure at the Forest Preserves of Cook County!

Jay Johnson, district site operations manager, Forest Preserves of DuPage County

Jay Johnson has been with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County since 1985. During his time with the Forest Preserve District, he has worked to maintain the preserves, provided oversight of the boat rental and campground operations, worked to instill a love of nature for all audiences through recreational programming, and has assisted with resource management through various means. With the latter, it has included many years of prescribed burning in all local fuel types.

Program Schedule

Section A: Thursday and Friday, September 28 and 29, 2023, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Thornhill Education Center

Section B: Saturday and Sunday, September 30 and October 1, 2023, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Administration and Research Center

What to Know

This class takes place mostly indoors.

Please bring a lunch and snack, water bottle, and materials for taking notes and the exam.

This is a two-day class; participants must fully attend both days.

You must pass the exam to earn your certificate of completion.

There is no smoking anywhere on the grounds of the Arboretum.


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