Jesse Portillo working on clearing Ramirez Canyon Park in Malibu in 2020 (left) and National Parks Service Zion Field Office in 2021 (right)
From November 2020 through April 2021, Jesse Portillo was part of a crew responsible for restoring landscapes destroyed by the Woolsey Fire, which burned nearly 97,000 acres throughout Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

During his time with the crew, Jesse gained valuable work experience felling large trees with chainsaws in Ramirez Canyon Park in Malibu and completing detailed trail work on the New Millennium Trail in Calabasas. Jesse’s job training was funded by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) National Dislocated Workers Grant (NDWG), which provided paid work experience for workers to assist with recovery efforts to residents and businesses that were severely impacted by the megafires.

In spring 2021, Jesse began applying for work as a ranger for the National Parks Service (NPS). The combination of skills and work experience he gained through the NDWG grant program, along with his prior experience as a U.S. Marine, helped make Jesse an ideal candidate for NPS.

Jesse is currently stationed at Zion National Park in Utah, where he juggles both office and field responsibilities. He said he greatly enjoys serving as a naturalist for the public. As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, the number of park visitors to the park has increased significantly, keeping Jesse and his colleagues very busy.

EWDD partner Managed Career Services, Inc. (MCS) helped administer the NDWG, which has provided temporary employment to hundreds of Angelenos.

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This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of July 12, 2021. Read this issue and more.