By Ethan Sirles
Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) Center for Wilderness and Outdoor Public Safety and the College of Justice, Safety, and Military Science are offering two new undergraduate certificates in wildland firefighting and conservation law enforcement. The certificate programs help students and professionals address the need for specialized knowledge in the wilderness and outdoor safety field.
Because Kentucky is mostly rural, there is a growing need for first responders who know how to deal with emergencies and natural disasters in those settings, according to David Fifer, director of the Center for Wilderness and Outdoor Public Safety.
“Kentucky has seen recent wildfires in the Red River Gorge region, and brush fires on the boundaries between rural and more urban areas are common occurrences for fire departments all over the state,” said Fifer.
Regarding the need for education in conservation law enforcement, Fifer added the state sees high levels of hunting, fishing and ecotourism, meaning large amounts of land that law enforcement must be ready to patrol.
Until now, specialized training in these fields has only been available in the state through the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife law enforcement division, Fifer said.
“We’ve actually always had these challenges, but it’s only recently that we’ve realized that opportunities for advanced education and training for these responders can sometimes be hard to come by within the state,” said Fifer.
Each certificate is approximately 30 credit hours, and they are designed for students who have an interest in these career paths, or for professionals interested in earning a specialized certificate. EKU plans to offer even more certificate programs through the Center for Wilderness and Outdoor Public Safety in the future, including a wilderness paramedicine certificate for paramedics who practice in remote wilderness environments. Learn more about the certificate programs offered through EKU’s Center for Wilderness and Outdoor Public Safety.