Hi there! Smokey Bear here. We all know that bears love to hang out in the forests, but as our Nation’s symbol for wildfire prevention, I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like. So I’m really excited to tell you about a trip I recently made to the woods of Pennsylvania.
Since 1968, the fire wardens have volunteered their time to make presentations at schools, malls, fairs, and other events as part of their firefighting duties. The fire wardens use a manual designed for all ages that focuses on basic leadership skills and includes Smokey Bear games and coloring sheets, public service announcements, and more.
This year, Forest Service Northeastern Area Deputy Director Jim Barresi went with me to present the award because my paws aren’t much good for holding statues. The Smokey Bear Awards are given annually to national, regional, and statewide groups for excellence in wildland fire prevention. My gold Smokey Bear statues are awarded to national programs, silver statues to regional programs, and bronze statues for statewide recognition. These awards are not given out lightly—those who receive them have put a lot of effort into their programs.
At the awards ceremony, I was thrilled to see more than 100 wildfire trainees in their orange vests with yellow stripes…some young and some pursuing a new chapter in their lives. They are the next generation of wildfire fighters and educators, and my heart was touched by their presence. Hope they invite me back soon!
Remember: Only YOU can prevent wildfires!