Grant allows environmental job training at FSCJ, with emphasis on veterans

Posted by Ayreen Calimquim - On July 26, 2012 (EST)

FSCJ environmental program has created possibilities for new careers

In 2007 Danny Cummings moved back to Jacksonville, his native city, to help care for his ailing his parents.
He had spent two decades plus in the Marines and was working as a Ruby Tuesdays regional manager in Atlanta when he made the move. Back on the First Coast, though, he struggled.

“To be honest with you, there weren’t a lot of good-paying jobs,” he said.
Cummings, 48, bounced from one temporary job to the next. Each change chipped away at his confidence. Then in 2009, through a job-placement agency, he heard about a new program at Florida State College at Jacksonville offering free training for people interested in environmental work.

He applied for a slot in the eight-week course and was accepted.

“I was just blown away with the passion,” he said. “The passion for helping veterans, for helping anybody.”
Cummings completed the course and landed a job helping clean up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

This summer, the 11th and 12th classes are under way with 32 total students. They are broken into two groups: one of military veterans, one of non-military citizens.

The program is funded through a two-year, $300,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. Partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project, it targets military veterans. But anyone who is from Duval County and unemployed or under-employed, or working less than 20 hours a week, can apply.
Applicants go through a formal interview process, drug screening, background check and must pass an adult basic education test. Pamela Scherer, the program’s general manager, said she and her staff focus on choosing applicants who show a genuine desire to work. Most students are in their 40s.

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