Friday, July 10, 2020

Challenge 26: 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP Campaign logo and challenge

Challenge 26: Good leaders know themselves and seek improvement.

  • Seek critical feedback from someone you trust—mentor, coach, or trusted advisor.
  • Participate in a 360-degree feedback survey.
  • In your journal, devise a plan to address your weaknesses.

#2020WFLDCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, July 9, 2020

IGNITE: It Is Your Choice

firefighters at sunset
If you want to be a leader, choose to be a leader today. - Drew Dudley, author of This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership That Matters

[Photo: Tallac IHC]


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Smoke Screens and Admissions

Hogan's Heroes is one my my husband's favorite television shows. Today's inspiration comes from "Klink vs. the Gonculator."

Monday, July 6, 2020

IGNITE: Building Trust

Firefighter with saw
“To build trust, a leader must exhibit competence, create connections, and demonstrate character.” - Steve Gutzler, author
[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

#neverforget #fireleadership

Friday, July 3, 2020

Challenge 25: 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP Campaign logo and challenge

Challenge 25: Effective leaders lead by example.
In your journal, respond to the following questions.
  • What can I do to make myself better?
  • What can I do to make my team better?
#2020WFLDPCampaign #fireleadership #commandpresence

Thursday, July 2, 2020

IGNITE: 2020 Fourth of July

flag in front of a wildfire

Sending Fourth of July sentiments to our followers and a special shoutout to those staffing fire and emergency operations this holiday.

[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Become Aware

firefighters on a ridge
I came across this image and quote on the WFLDP Facebook page this morning, and I liked it:
"If you do not pay attention to what has your attention, you will give it more attention than it deserves." – David Allen
In my (very) short journey toward being more mindful, I’ve learned that being aware of what you are focused on is pretty important. If you’re aware of what has your attention, of what you are focused on, you can be mindful of how much attention it really needs, and shift your focus to what’s really important if you need to.

Monday, June 29, 2020

IGNITE: Nothing Endures But Change

Handcrew on break

“Nothing endures but change.” ♦ Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher of Ephesus ♦

[Photo: Devil's Canyon Veteran's Handcrew]


Friday, June 26, 2020

Challenge 24: 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP Campaign logo and challenge

Challenge 24: Confident leaders embrace hard conversations.
  • Read "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most" by Stone, Patton, & Heen.
  • In your journal, note the techniques you would like to try; leave space to reflect on how they worked.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, June 25, 2020

IGNITE: Dare to Care

wildland fire

“Daring leaders are never silent about hard things.” ♦ BrenĂ© Brown, author ♦

[Photo: Kyle Miller, Wyoming IHC]


IGNITE: The Key to Flexibility

hotshots hiking up a hill

When we have a clear sense of where we're going, we are flexible in how we get there. - Simon Sinek

[Photo: Pioneer Peak IHC]


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Nothing is Routine

(Photo: Kari Greer/USFS)

The words "apathy," "complacency," and "procrastination" have been bouncing around my head the last few of months as all things pandemic swirl around us.

Neuroscientist Dr. Donald T. Stuss* defines apathy as the "absence of responsiveness to stimuli, with the requirement that this lack of responsiveness be demonstrated by a lack of self-initiated action."

Merriam-Webster defines complacency as "self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies."

Monday, June 22, 2020

IGNITE: Wisdom

torching trees
Wisdom, like every other great thing, is pursued and nurtured, not attained. ♦ Dan Rockwell ♦

[Photo: Gannett Glacier Fire Crew]


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Steven Hubner Honored for 2019 LBE Award for Mentoring & Teamwork

Steven Hubner with award

Steven Hubner
Regional Fuels Coordinator 
bootsGreat Dismal Swamp NWR/FWS
Honored for Mentoring and Teamwork

Steven Hubner has been selected as one of the recipients for the 2019 Paul Gleason Lead by Example award. Three individuals from across the wildland fire service have been chosen to receive this national award.

Monday, June 15, 2020

IGNITE: Seeing Beyond

vegetation and smoke

The exceptional leaders can see the world beyond the one in which she or he exists. - George Raveling, Coaching for Success

[Photo: Mesa IHC]


Thursday, June 11, 2020

IGNITE: Doing What's Necessary

Sawyer working on a huge tree

It is no use saying, “We are doing our best.” You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary. ~ Winston Churchill

[Photo: Midewin IHC]

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Be Better

As I've struggled with the events of the last few weeks, I find myself returning to the legacy of one of our fallen—Andrew Ashcroft, member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Six months before his death Andrew began wearing a simple white band marked "BE BETTER."
When Andrew Ashcraft put on his Be Better Band in January of 2013, he vowed to wear it until the day he died as a constant reminder and emblem of his commitment to being better each day than he was the day before. He taught by word and example that we should treat each other better in our home, treat others that we come into contact with better each and every day...simply, BE better.
True to his word, Andrew wore that band until the day he died

Granite Mountain Hotshots

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge: Digging a Little Deeper

Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Committee. The expressions are those of the author.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Paul Petersen Honored for 2019 LBE Award for Motivation & Vision

Paul Petersen with award

Paul Petersen
State Fire Management Officer
bootsBLM - State of Nevada
Honored for Motivation and Vision

Paul Petersen has been selected as one of the recipients for the 2019 Paul Gleason Lead by Example award. Three individuals from across the wildland fire service have been chosen to receive this national award.

Monday, June 8, 2020

IGNITE: Learning Without Judgment

wildland firefighters participating in sand table exercise
Learning to give guidance without judgment is the beginning of a new kind of relationship with ourselves and others. ♦ The Daily Coach blog ♦
[Photo: Baker River IHC]


Friday, June 5, 2020

Challenge 21: 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP Campaign logo and challenge

Challenge 21:
Building trust is key in effective leadership.
  • Watch Kerwin Rae discuss calm assertiveness. (
  • Practice using calm assertiveness to build trust. Journalize about your effort.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, June 4, 2020

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Firefighters Join Honor Guard Ranks

Photo: (L to R) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees Shane McDonald, Jason Riggins, Noah Wendland, Ryan Vice, Rob Wood, and Chris Wilcox pose for a photo after graduation. Credit: FWS photo

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Honor Guard (SHG) is a specially trained, uniquely decorated, and highly disciplined unit that represents the positive image of the Service when fulfilling ceremonial duties. The primary duty of the SHG is to deliver final honors for fallen comrades. These services honor Service employees, as well as provide comfort and support to survivors of those who have fallen. Other duties include representing the Service at special functions.

The SHG follows long-standing traditions of military burials. These high standards require above average physical ability and highly polished appearance standards. SHG members must be ready to represent the Service by performing with the finest discipline at a moment’s notice.

Originally formed in 2010, the SHG was comprised of National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) uniformed law enforcement officers. Later that year, the SHG provided services for the first official function and inaugural event at the dedication of land and a memorial service honoring Service Refuge Manager Richard Guadagno, and other passengers and crewmembers, who were onboard United Airlines Flight 93, one of four airliners hijacked on September 11, 2001.

After almost a decade, in 2018, the first NWRS full-time firefighters were admitted to the program: Jason Riggins, Regional Fire Management Coordinator, Regional Office, Bloomington, Minnesota, and Rob Wood, Fire Management Officer, South Atlantic-Gulf Interior Region.

"Full-time firefighters have set the bar high for all that follow and are a much-valued addition to the Service Honor Guard," said Deborah Goeb, Senior Federal Wildlife K9 Officer, Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, and SHG Commander.

“I love working for Fish and Wildlife Service Fire Management, but I believe what I do with the SHG Team has become one of the most meaningful parts of my job,” said Rob Wood about his time on the SHG.

In 2020, the SHG welcomed two more firefighters to the ranks: Ryan Vice, Fire Management Specialist, Texas Mid-coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC),

and Noah Wendland, Assistant Module Leader, Barksdale Air Force Base, Shreveport, Louisiana.

For many members, joining the SHG provided a way to give back to the wildland fire community and the Service.

“When I first learned about the opportunity to join the Service Honor Guard, I knew it was a way I could give back to my professional community during times of loss and need,” said Ryan Vice. “When we experience a loss, through the Service Honor Guard, I am able to give back and provide that support.”

In addition to providing memorial services, the SHG attends regularly scheduled events, including the Family Fire Weekend, organized by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, and the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

All new SHG members must complete a minimum of 80 hours of basic SHG training prior to performing with the SHG during ceremonies and events. Continued proficiency requires SHG officers to meet and train at least twice per year.

After successfully completing 3 years of service, a member may choose to continue serving actively on the SHG, request to be placed in reserve status, or leave the SHG in good standing (retire).

The Service maintains a membership level of approximately 25 members and continues to recruit new members for the SHG. Prospective wildland firefighter applicants can contact Shane McDonald, Deputy Chief - Operations, Branch of Fire Management, at to find out more about the program.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Being Present and Mindful

Vernon in snow with moon and stars shilouette
(Photo: Justin Vernon)

I stumbled across the Leadership Freak's blog post "A Realistic Approach to Being Present." In the blog, Dan Rockwell sparked a long series of thoughts. 

There’s a few good things in there for sure, but I really want to hit on the idea of being present and being mindful.

Monday, June 1, 2020

IGNITE: Character Not Reputation

“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation."
♦ John Wooden ♦
[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

#fireleadership #commandpresence #2020WFLDPCampaign

Friday, May 29, 2020

Challenge 20: 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP Campaign logo and challenge

Challenge 20:
Effective leaders know how to respond to a crisis.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, May 28, 2020

IGNITE: Make Your Own Weather

hotshot crew

Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.  ♦ Fulton J. Sheen ♦
[Photo: Gannett Glacier Fire Crew]

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Finding Calm During the Storm

firefighters on a ridge
I recently went through a health crisis. I had been through the same scare three times before, but this one seemed more dire. With each test the tensions built, the crisis became deeper. However, amidst the chaos, I had the opportunity to find a profound peace like none before. In "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity," David Allen speaks about how crisis evokes serenity--a point where you are fully present and at peace in the midst of a crisis.

Monday, May 25, 2020

IGNITE: Memorial Day 2020

“The legacy of heroes — the memory of a great name, and the inheritance of a great example.” ♦ Benjamin Disraeli♦ 

Thank you to all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. May we never forget your sacrifices. Memorial Day 2020 

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]


Friday, May 22, 2020

Challenge 19: 2020 WFLDP Campaign

Challenge 19:

Effective leaders are transparent and encourage follower input.
  • Assess a current situation.
  • Do you have a written plan for the situation?
  • Ensure your followers understand the plan and provide input.
  • Revise the plan as needed.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

IGNITE: Leaders Embrace Change

crew buggy and firefighters herding cows

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. ~ Charles Darwin ~ 

[Photo: Redding IHC] 


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

"Do It Scared"

child looking through a hole
(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay) 
Today's blog comes from a friend and former wildland firefighter, Summer Osmond. Summer is going through some major health struggles. One way Summer manages her mental health is through a private group on social media where she expresses her most vulnerable thoughts. This is one of her posts. Summer has given permission to share it with a wider audience in hopes others might find strength through her words.

Monday, May 18, 2020

IGNITE: Pay Attention

firefighters on a ridge
"If you do not pay attention to what has your attention, you will give it more attention than it deserves." ♦ David Allen♦

[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]


Friday, May 15, 2020

Challenge 18 - WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP campaign logo and challenge

Challenge 18: 2020 WFLDP Campaign, Command Presence: Do you know who you are?

Effective leaders are about "we” not "me."
  • Create a psychological safe environment for your followers.
  • Read Amy Edmundson’s book “The Fearless Organization – Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth.”

Thursday, May 14, 2020

IGNITE: Complacent Responders

fire reflecting on water
“A complacent responder can “infect” other responders."  ♦ Risk Gasaway, SA Matters ♦

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Staying resilient as a working parent with kids at home

Alexis Waldron, Human Performance Specialist, USDA Forest Service
When a friend made a request for others to share the most interesting thing they had seen since March 1st on Facebook—during the beginning days of COVID-19, as it became more real for the U.S.—I replied by describing the experience of driving to daycare with my three-month-old daughter (the day before my husband and I made the decision to pull her and her sister out). I was behind an old, blue Ford Explorer with a single driver in the front. On the dusty back windshield there was a white stick figure family, but instead of having a mom, dad and kids, it was a single lady surrounded by 22 cats. I missed getting a picture because I was busy counting all the cats on the windshield at the stoplight. In jest, a woman replied to the Facebook post— “Well, you know what those cats WON’T need—toilet paper. Twenty-two cats wins over 22 kids any day!” I laughed out loud when I read her response and also in irony to the empty toilet paper shelves in grocery stores and the fear of parents who have been potty training their toddlers and now are wondering and cringing with no toilet paper—do I dare put them back in diapers? What will that mean?

Monday, May 11, 2020

IGNITE: Small Team, Big Impact

A small team, committed to a cause bigger than themselves, can achieve absolutely anything. ~ Simon Sinek ~
[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]

Friday, May 8, 2020

Challenge #17 - WFLDP 2020 Campaign

Challenge 17:
Effective leaders are artful in perspective taking.
  • Watch Daniel Pink speak on attunement @
  • In your journal, define “introvert,” “extrovert,” and “ambivert.” Which fits you best and how you can better the art of perspective taking?
#2020WFLDPCampaign #fireleadership #commandpresence

Thursday, May 7, 2020


sawyer felling a tree
“No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear."
Edmund Burke, Irish Statesman & philosopher ♦

[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

You Have Been Training for This Moment

Hotshot crew participating in sandtable exercise
(Photo: Dan Malia)
As students of leadership, you have been preparing to lead through crisis since you took L-180, Human Factors. As you moved through the wildland fire leadership curriculum, you gained tools to respond to crisis situations—situations like a pandemic response.

Monday, May 4, 2020

IGNITE: What Great Leaders Do

wildland firefighters in a raft
A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t want to go but ought to be. ♦ Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady ♦
[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]


IGNITE: Be Better

The goal is not to be perfect by the end. The goal is to be better today.  ♦ Simon Sinek ♦

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]


Friday, May 1, 2020

Challenge #16: 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP Campaign logo and challenge

Challenge #16: Effective leaders know their strengths and how to use them. 
#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, April 30, 2020

IGNITE: Changes

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to see the ways that you yourself have changed." ♦ Nelson Mandela ♦ 
[Photo: Nelson Mandela]


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Think LCES - Keep Your Team Safe in a Pandemic

pink flagging
Every generation has a pivotal moment in their history. The COVID-19 pandemic is one of those moments. Now is the time for strong leadership. No one is immune from the impact of this pandemic. Most importantly, every person at every level of the organization has the ability to make a difference. Every one of us has the ability to lead and SHOULD lead.

What does leading in a crisis look like? The answers are as varied as the situation put before us, but maybe we could adapt LCES to heighten our response:

Monday, April 27, 2020

IGNITE: Empathy and Attunement

“Empathy and attunement are not a waste of time in today’s business climate, but essentials for success.” ♦ Daniel Goleman ♦

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

Friday, April 24, 2020

Challenge #15 - 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP logo and challenge

Challenge 15: Teams know when their leader is authentic.

#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence

Thursday, April 23, 2020

IGNITE: Wisdom - A Lifelong Pursuit

firefighter resting on a log
Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it. ♦ Albert Einstein♦

[Photo; Kari Greer/USFS]

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What does a well-founded risk decision look like?

(Credit: Geralt/Pixabay)
What does a well-founded risk decision look like?
By Mark Smith, Mission-Centered Solutions
©Mission-Centered Solutions Version 7 FINAL (16 June 2017)

[Mark Smith has been presenting Luck Runs Out (What does a well-founded risk decision look like?) at IMT meetings, safety summits at wildfire academies, etc. Where The Big Lie was more a problem statement, Luck Runs Out is meant to focus on actionable, practical steps forward for IMTs and Agency Administrators. The information below started not as an essay but as a handout to go with presentations.]

This paper is the result of an ongoing dialog around risk I’ve had within the post-Yarnell Honor the Fallen group. One member posed the rhetorical but critical question: “Should we be risking lives for suppression efforts or not?“ That prompted my response in The Big Lie essay on the levels of risk I think wildland firefighters operate in routinely, and how we could be more intelligently accepting that risk.