Thousands of young people have successfully passed through the Anaconda Jobs Corps Civilian Conservation Center in a mile-high valley on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
The facility in southwest Montana is on the largest national forest in the state and boasts two wilderness areas and spectacular scenery that goes on for miles.
And for 45 years, one constant at the center is Rosemarie Thomas, office supervisor for the Anaconda Center. She started as a young clerk typist fresh out of business school in Butte, Mont., having moved back to Anaconda, where she would raise a family.
She worked at the center at a time when it allowed only male students and in 1982 helped to greet the first woman admitted to the program.
Thomas’ commitment to the Job Corps mission and her longevity with the Forest Service has prompted officials to name the administrative building at the center in her honor.
“It’s overwhelming to think they would do that. It’s a program I believe in, and it’s why I’ve been here all these years,” Thomas said. “The honor is something that I didn’t think could happen to me. It’s just overwhelming; a humbling experience.”
Job Corps is a self-paced, no-cost education and career technical training program for young people ages 16 to 24 administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Forest Service operates 28 co-educational centers located across the country on 22 forests or grasslands in 18 states. They have a capacity to serve 6,200 students.
Thomas said the benefit of the program is two-fold. Young people who need a second chance to not just learn a trade but complete their high school education. Some young people get a bit more.
“In many cases these students have lived a hard life for their short years. We take them in and we give them self-worth,” she said. “We educate them, train them and get them on the right track. We’ve given them something that they can go out in the world to use and give something back, which in this day and age is important.”
Read more about Thomas and Job Corps in Faces of the Forest, a feature project of the U.S. Forest Service Office of Communication to showcase the people, places and professions within the agency.