After Irvin Barragan Ponce gradated from Cohort 8 of our Leadership Academy, he landed an internship with the forest service as a field ranger. He has worked as a wildland firefighter in Northern CA, and on the Fox helicopter fire crew in Lancaster.

How did you first hear about the Leadership Academy and what inspired you to apply for the program?

I heard about it when I was working for the San Gabriel Valley conservation corps on multiple environmental projects. 

What’s the best thing you learned and/or what surprised you about the program?

The global warming training was very insightful for me.

Did the Academy experience help you on your path?

Yes, it helped network me with different environmental professionals. So when it came time to get interviewed by the forest service for my internship, I already knew the person interviewing me. 

What is one of your current goals?

Currently I am focused on getting more young people of color interested in careers in wildland fire. There is a big need to make the forest service more diverse and I have created a workshop to share my personal fire story and pathways into fire.    

What’s your favorite way to spend time in the San Gabriel Mountains?

My favorite thing to do in the San Gabriels is take my daughter exploring. We love hiking, swimming in the river, birdwatching, and eating the famous grilled cheese sandwiches at the Crystal Lake Cafe.  

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