Young people have the opportunity to learn helpful skills from people who wish to be a mentor. Griffin Domby has recently benefited from this heritage and now is a great assistance to the community.
“Every year we host a group of high school students, members of the Pulaski Club, from Dobyns-Bennett High School out of Kingsport, Tennessee to conduct a controlled burn on our 900-acre farm,” shared Rachel Braun, farm manager of The Farm at Sinking Creek.
She said that in the fall of 2022, they burned a large hillside that was about 11 acres.
There were five students along with their teacher, Bryan Kerns, who successfully conducted this burn on a very windy day.
“One of the seniors was a young man by the name of Griffin Domby,” Braun said. “After graduation he went on to join the U.S. Forest Service fire crew and this morning Mr. Bryan Kerns informed us that he was in route with his crew to the New Castle area to help with the forest fire up route 42 near the look out.”
“I got the chance to meet Griffin and have met many other great students from Dobyns-Bennett High School through the Pulaski club,” Braun continued. “I feel the work they do is extremely important, and this story needs to be told.”
She added, “We are so grateful for all those who have stepped up to help with this fire!”
Domby learned many skills while serving with four of his classmates on the Dobyns-Bennett High School Prescribed Fire Team, one of, if not the only high school prescribed fire team in the country.
The students are trained by Bryan Kerns, a 20-year veteran of wildland fire, and meets all the requirements to participate in live fire events.
Additionally, the students are prepared to begin work as wildland firefighters upon graduation.
Domby was on the control burn at The Coyote Valley controlled burn, which was an 8-acre fire aimed at restoring native grasses to the hillside.
“This, and other burns conducted at the Frist’s property are having great success in promoting the remnants of native grasslands that once painted the entire valley,” Kerns said. “On this burn, Griffin was responsible for igniting a backing fire off the top of the hillside and patrolling to ensure the fire stayed within the control lines.”
He added, “This experience helped the many hours of PowerPoint presentations, videos, and reading come to life as the students experience the beauty, power, and restorative effect of fire.”
After Domby graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tennessee in May of 2022, he accepted a full-time permanent wildland firefighter position with the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest.
“The training and industry certifications he earned while in high school set him apart from other young applicants and has quickly emerged as a leader on his crew,” Kerns explained. “Almost one year later, Griffin returned to Craig County with his U.S. Forest Service wildland fire crew to respond to the Penny Hollow Fire. He and his crew continue to fight wildfires in the region as this fall continues to stretch resources thin.”