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/stories/images/12-ICC.jpgsite://minnstate/stories/images/12-ICC.jpgminnstate12-ICC.jpg162508375375Photo of Jamaal BairdItasca Community College

Itasca Community College

Photo of Maria Damiani

Jamaal Baird

Hometown: Deer River, Minnesota
Anticipated Graduation: 2021
Degree/Major: Associate of Applied Science (Natural Resources-Wildland Firefighting)

A standout athlete at Deer River High School, Jamaal Baird was looking for a career that offered physical and mental challenge – and an edge of excitement. In his second year at Itasca Community College, he’s well on his way to reaching that goal. 

“I first went to a college in the Cities, but as I took classes, I realized that what I wanted was a job where I could be outdoors. Also about that time, I saw the news about wildfires in California, and the smoke jumpers fighting those fires. I thought it would be exciting to be on the front lines of a fire. So I checked out what Itasca had to offer, and their Wildland Firefighting program looked cool, so I thought, ‘why not?’ 

“It’s been a great change for me. Some classes are very hands-on, while others are the usual in-class learning. This past summer I worked at the North Dakota Forest Service out of Bismarck on their fire crews. It was great, and I loved the work.” 

In addition to his Natural Resources- Wildland Firefighting training, Jamaal also wrestles for the Itasca Vikings. He says it’s the best way to get to know other people—to get in with a good group and make connections.