Teenage boys from Flying H Youth Ranch/Hope Academy help with yard clean-up

by Michal Holland, NFPA Public Affairs Intern

Preparedness Day project in Naches, WashingtonThe Flying H Youth Ranch/Hope Academy is a program for troubled teenage boys located in the Nile Valley community in Naches, Washington. Their mission is to get these boys involved in community service projects.

Administrator Steve Alumbaugh of Flying H Youth/Hope Academy met with wildfire preparedness Fire Marshall Todd Hottell and brainstormed different ideas between each other in efforts to figure what they could do for a community service project.

Before Alumbaugh and Hottell had their initial meeting, Hottell recalled a widowed woman that reached out to the fire department stating that she needs help doing wildfire mitigation. She lives alone and has limited ability to get out to clean up her yard of brushes and trimming down trees to prevent them from catching on fire.

After hearing about this woman’s story and her need for help, Alumbaugh and Hottell figured this is what they would do for their community service project. The next part of the plan was figuring out the best possible way of helping her.

When Wildfire Community Preparedness Day approached, the Flying H Youth Ranch/Hope Academy, with the help of the volunteer fire department, traveled to her home near the Nile community in Yakima County and started working on her yard. She had 29 acres of brushy forest that needed to be cleaned up.

The entire process took five to six days to complete with 16 workers. The job consisted of clearing 80-100 foot perimeter around the house. Trimming trees to the 10’ level for maintaining ladder fuel opportunities and clearing or cutting down bushes.

State Farm awarded the Flying H Youth Ranch/Hope Academy with funding to contribute towards their Wildfire Community Preparedness Day project. With the funding they purchased new trash receptacles for the woman to keep around the house and new Lopper Shears and replacement chains for their chainsaws. They were even able to put some money towards their future community service projects including this woman’s very own home.