Monday, August 12, 2013

Jenna Berkerman - A WOW Spotlight

Firefighting and the BLM are Family Traditions for the Beckermans 
By: Dennis Godfrey, BLM-Arizona

Jenna Beckerman was reflecting on what it means to be part of the wildland fire community. "Fire is really a close-knit family, that's for sure," she said recently, while working a detail at the Phoenix Interagency Fire Center. She mentioned the so-called 6 degrees of separation that connects humanity. "It seems like in fire, if you know one person, you know the rest of the whole community." The fire family connection is even closer for Jenna than most, and it extends to the Bureau of Land Management. That's because her dad, Dale Beckerman, is part of the fire family and a career BLM employee. In addition, Jenna's grandmother (and Dale's mother-in-law) Garnet Sophocles also worked for the BLM. That makes Jenna a third-generation BLMer…
In 2007, Jenna was a member of the Craig Hotshots and is shown here working on a fire in Montana.
Jenna is an initial attack dispatcher for Craig Interagency Dispatch in Colorado. Dale also works in Craig, as a fire management specialist. "It's pretty cool having your daughter right there," Dale said of the family connection in fire, the BLM and in Craig.
Dale and Jenna Berkerman enjoy a number of outdoor activities together, including distance running.
Dale was a seasonal firefighter for the BLM in northern California when he met the woman who became his wife. Her mother was working for the BLM Colorado State Office as an administrative assistant. "

When my parents got married they were living in California because he was fighting fire out there. My grandmother just hated that they were so far away," Jenna said. Grandma Garnet heard of a job in Colorado and helped Dale get it."

They've been in Craig ever since and I've just followed in my dad's footsteps," Jenna said. She has worked on hotshot crews and initial attack crews, much like her dad. She is in her second year of fire dispatch.

"I'm not even quite sure how that happened," Dale said of his daughter's career choice. "I definitely didn't encourage it. She did it all on her own."

Grandma Garnet worked about 15 years for the BLM in the Colorado State Office, retiring in 1984. She has since passed away.

Jenna has a degree in anthropology from Fort Lewis College, and she's considered pursuing a career in that field. "But so far it has worked out that I stay in fire," she said.

The larger fire family connection was drawn closer to home for Jenna with the deaths of the 19 in the Yarnell Hill Fire. "The Granite Mountain Hotshot thing has been really close to home, for sure," she said. "When I was on the Craig Hotshots, we actually did a fuels reduction project all around the community of Yarnell in 2006. I can just totally picture where those guys were."

For Dale, he is happy that Jenna is following the family tradition in the BLM and in fire. "I am definitely very proud of her," he said.

Reprinted with permission. Article from The BLM Daily, 7/18/2013

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