Love of firefighting earns $5,000 for teen, Gold Hill department
By Shavonne Potts
GOLD HILL ó Four months ago, Natasha Boger couldn’t fathom that she’d travel to Baltimore to pick up a $5,000 check.
Boger, 18, is a junior firefighter with the Gold Hill Volunteer Fire Department. The National Volunteer Fire Council recently awarded the teen a scholarship to help pay for some college expenses.
“I didn’t think I had a chance. It’s a national scholarship. I think 10 people are chosen out of about 2,500,” Boger said.
Boger received the $5,000 scholarship, and her fire department received a matching $5,000 for its junior firefighter program.
She graduated from Graystone Day School on the campus of Pfeiffer University and will attend N.C. State University, where she’ll study civil engineering.
Boger wrote an essay in April about participating in the junior firefighter program and how it helped her grow into a leader.
Gold Hill Fire Chief Randy Earnhardt also wrote about Boger’s contribution to the department.
She found out she got the scholarship in May and traveled with her father and Earnhardt to Maryland for two days in July to receive the award.
While in Baltimore, the three attended the Firehouse Expo, which showcases one of the largest displays of fire industry products, technology and services in the United States.
“It’s basically where people bring the newest and latest in fire technology,” she said.
Boger has been part of the junior firefighter program since she was 16, and she’s been a part of the firefighting family since age 11.
One could say firefighting is in Boger’s blood and her family tree. Her parents, Tony and Kathy Boger, work with the Gold Hill Fire Department, and her grandfather and great-grandfather were also firefighters.
“I grew up around it. It wasn’t an issue of if, but always when,” Boger said.
Boger recalled going to the fire station with her parents when she was younger.
“They took me with them, and I started getting interested. It’s like a big family you are a part of,” she said.
Her family members “were ecstatic and thrilled” about her achievement, she said, and her chief was proud, as well.
“They supported me all the way,” Boger said.
Boger enjoys what she does and has no problem being the lone female firefighter among her group of friends. “They think it’s weird, but they also respect me for it,” she said.
As for her school friends, Boger said they think her job as a firefighter is unique and support her.
“I enjoy helping people. It’s well worth it seeing their faces light up once we get there to help. We are seeing them at their time of need,” Boger said.
As a junior firefighter, Boger has some restrictions. For instance, she’s not allowed to go inside to fight a fire but can man the hose from the outside and fight brush fires.
She is also allowed to drive the fire truck but does not routinely do so.
“I took courses in emergency vehicle driving … but don’t normally drive to respond to calls,” she said.
The Gold Hill resident hasn’t decided how she’ll handle going to school and remaining with the fire department. She hopes to continue to volunteer on the weekends and during holiday breaks.
Boger’s grateful for the continued support of her family and friends.
She leaves for N.C. State Thursday.