A Real Hot Shot
Greg Vigneaux '13
 
 
Greg Vigneaux '13 is a real hot shot alumnus. Literally. He works for the United States Forest Service on the Elk Mountain Hotshot Crew based out of the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California. A Hotshot Crew is an elite wildland fire suppression resource that can be ordered to respond to wildland fires burning anywhere in the nation. Crews do not fight fire by using water. Rather, they use chainsaws and hand tools or set fires themselves in order to create a continuous break in the vegetation around the fire known as a 'fire line' or 'hand line.' Progression of a fire is prevented by removing fuels in its path.
 
Greg is a recent graduate of the Self-Design Degree Program at Anna Maria College. He originally entered AMC after taking several courses at Mount Wachusett Community College and enrolled in the Fire Science Program after a campus tour and discussion with then director of the Fire Science Program, Everett Pierce. Greg was in the Fire Science Program for several semesters before learning about the Self-Design Degree option from Fire Science professor, Matt Hinds-Aldrich. He then created the degree, Wildland Fire Management.
 
After finishing his courses in December 2012, Greg took some time to ski and begin the daunting process of finding a job with a Hot Shot crew. There are about 100 crews nationally, each with only one to two annual vacancies and hundreds of applications from aspiring crew members. It is a very competitive hiring process. Greg landed his job with the Elk Mountain Hotshot Crew in early spring and spent his inaugural year, mid-April to mid-October, fighting wildland fires in California and Alaska.
 
Greg credits two Anna Maria College faculty members with having an impact on his college experience and his career, "Matt Hinds-Aldrich and Sue Swedis (Associate Professor in Environmental Science) both had an enormous impact on my time at AMC. In addition to being instrumental during the design process for my degree, they both challenged me academically and as a result, changed the way I think."
 
As Greg pursues his master's degree, he reflects back on AMC. "What I learned [at Anna Maria College] became immediately helpful in the field and has continued to help me while I pursue my graduate degree."
 
To learn more about the Elk Mountain Hotshot Crew, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/hotshots/elkmtn.