Young adults are doing their part to keep San Diego safe by containing wildfire risk. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has awarded a $1,255,800 three-year grant to the San Diego College of Continuing Education Foundation’s Employee Training Institute (ETi) to provide Arborist/Utility Line Clearance Training.
The tuition-free program is a 200-hour 5-week training to become a skilled arborist who supports California in preventing fires by clearing trees away from utility equipment and lines. Graduates leave the program prepared to be safe and productive workers on a line clearance crew.
“The SDCCE Foundation is excited to bring awareness to the arboriculture industry and as a result of SDG&E’s generous training funding, low-income San Diegans are entering a high demand, high wage career path.” said Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., SDCCE Foundation’s CEO.
SDG&E's $1.2 million grant permits the development and scholarships of the Arborist/Utility Line Clearance Training Program beginning April 2022 through July 2025. Funding from SDG&E makes the SDCCE Foundation’s ETi one of the first California Community Colleges to offer a partnership between a college and a utility to support curriculum as a line-item in the company’s fire risk mitigation budget.
The Arborist/Utility Line Clearance Training designed by industry experts, gives entry-level students skills that a utility line clearance arborist apprentice would learn in the first six months on the job. Upon successful completion, students will receive training in techniques such as First Aid/CPR, OSHA 10, flagger training, fire safety prevention, chippers, chainsaw usage, ropes, knots, and climbing.
The training led San Ysidro native, Sandra Marquez, 27, to a new career path. Marquez was going to start an internship with the San Diego Sheriff's department after studying for a master’s degree in forensics psychology at Grand Canyon University and earning a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Point Loma Nazarene University.
“My goal was to become a detective. That dream was put on hold due to the covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “I did not want to stop learning just because of the pandemic. I heard about the opportunity for arborist training and fell in love with it. Climbing trees is really a physical and mental challenge.”
Marquez began the arborist training in July and is now set to become a skilled arborist in the fall. “This program opens doors for everyone.”
The Arborist/Utility Line Clearance Training is open to all San Diego residents eighteen and older interested in becoming a professionally trained arborists with particular outreach to low-income communities. Prospective trainees can apply now at the SDCCD’s ETi website or email Caron Lieber at email@example.com. Training takes place at California Conservation Corps, Urban Corps of San Diego County, and the San Diego College of Continuing Education.