Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fighting fires…on land and on metabolism

Wanda Wildenberg fights fires as a smokejumper for the U.S. Forest Service. As a graduate student in the food science and nutrition program at UW-Stout, Wildenberg is interested in creating the right high-energy diet for individuals in her line of work.

A smokejumper's primary job is to suppress wildfires in remote mountainous terrain of the western United States. Smokejumpers parachute into the danger area of a fire and often are the first firefighters on the scene.

A crew member on a long shift can work off 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day. Therefore, a smokejumper’s physical condition is important.

“Everyone has different metabolism,” Wildenberg said. “We need to feed ourselves for performance.”

Wildenberg is in Missoula, Mont., this summer with her smokejumping crew. In her spare time, she will work on her diet plan, which is her master’s thesis. She plans to receive her master’s degree in May 2009.

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