I hear that train a’coming…

owcn-training-program-train-pictures-29In the blog announcing the Summit I mentioned that we have been working to revise our training program and that there would be more announcements soon. Well, soon comes today. When the OWCN Deputy Director positions were filled, Director Mike Ziccardi prioritized the review and revision of the training program to make it as efficient and consistent as possible across all areas.

As most of you know, the goal of the OWCN training program is to build on the existing strengths and skills of the Member Organizations, adding training specific to oiled wildlife deterrence, recovery and care, hazardous materials safety, emergency response and ICS. The aim of the OWCN from the start has been to produce a team of wildlife responders throughout California who, working together, can provide best achievable capture and care for wildlife impacted by oil spills. The obstacle we face in achieving this is that, first, our member organizations are already very busy working to collectively care for, study and protect thousands of animals every day; second, they are spread over a state that contains more than 150,000 square miles; and, finally, most of the people we depend on are volunteers who are very dedicated but also have a life. The difficult part is building both skills and a team that can be equally effective no matter who responds to any particular spill anywhere in the state. In emergency response, working together effectively is as important as the technical skills you possess. So the training program must be effective in building skills, team work, and local knowledge of all of the participants (including the OWCN Management Team) as well as easy to navigate and, dare I say, convenient. In reviewing and discussing methods of training and how it has evolved over the last 20 plus years, we decided to mash up what we see as OWCN’s Greatest Hits, The Training Years.


Our vision is a modularized, multi-modal program that allows each participant to choose how far they want to go, either for their own knowledge or to move up in their role as a responder. These will include concise, focused online webinars, multiple local one-day basic responder trainings to prepare for basic roles in any or all areas of the wildlife response, regional oiled wildlife specialist trainings to provide “lead by example” workers in each work area, and finally focused area manager trainings for those who really can’t get enough and want to prepare themselves for roles as Strike Team Leaders, Area Coordinators and Group Supervisors.

By the time you read this blog, the foundation of our new training program, the Core Webinars, will be up and available for viewing by those of you who are part of the Network and in the Better Impact database. Our plan is to have two of the Basic Responder in-person trainings scheduled and completed by the end of this year and to add the Specialist and Manager trainings next year.



It is admittedly a very ambitious schedule, but we are working hard to meet our targets. We are looking forward to getting your feedback on the first step – the new Core Webinars. Stephanie Herman has worked many long hours focusing, writing, and revising the material to make it informative, engaging, fun, and focused as well as easier to complete in your limited available hours. Let us know what you think. One question some of you might have is what about all of the training I have already taken? Does this mean I can’t respond to spills now? No, absolutely not! While we are trying to design the new training so that everyone will be chomping at the bit to sign-up, we will be phasing in the requirements and if you currently meet the requirements for your level of responder you will have several years to get the new in-person trainings once they are available to you. We do encourage everyone to at least go through the new Core Webinars over the next few months. They should only take you a couple of hours, they do have important up to date information on our volunteer and staffing system with Better Impact, and may help avoid some confusion during a spill. Like I said before, we would like to hear what think about the them, good or bad.

Till next time



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