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Kids Visit Mom’s Co-Workers: Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl

Olivia and Lily Anderson enjoy making camp at Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. Lily (right) builds the fire as Olivia (left) preps the dinner. (Photo courtesy Leah Anderson)

Olivia and Lily Anderson enjoy making camp at Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. Lily (right) builds the fire as Olivia (left) preps the dinner. (Photo courtesy Leah Anderson)

As a U.S. Forest Service employee, I was very excited recently to take my two preschool age daughters to visit my co-workers: Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl.

The visit, however, took us to the Betty Brinn Museum’s Home Sweet Home Exhibit located in Milwaukee, Wis.

Created in collaboration with the Forest Service, the exhibit shares Smokey’s message of “Help Prevent Forest Fires” and Woodsy’s message of “Give a Hoot Don’t Pollute,” in addition to fun activities underscoring the importance of protecting ecosystems.

Being a “paper-pusher” as a Regional Office employee in Milwaukee, I don’t have the opportunity to visit our forests very often, or take my children to visit a national forest. So, I’m always on the look-out for ways to share what I do at work with my family.

I knew this was a great opportunity for them to get a glimpse of what the Forest Service is all about. The exhibit also ties in the importance of national forests and grasslands with conservation of the landscape at large, including urban green spaces, our local and state parks, and our beaches on Lake Michigan.

With growing anticipation, my daughters got first-hand experience in the exhibit space, posing for a quick photo with Smokey and Woodsy before letting loose in the 1,500-square-foot space. It was so much fun to see my little girls as Junior Forest Rangers and pretend to be campers carefully putting out a campfire. They even pretended to be expert fishermen rowing the boat out to catch that prize rainbow trout and acted as a fire dispatcher radioing in smoke they viewed out in the forest. Observing their sense of wonder as explorers was amazing and a proud moment for their mommy.

Maybe one day my daughters will look into a career in natural resources. Or maybe they will get involved in their community to plant a tree or participate in a cleanup at our favorite beach. In the meantime, we try to take as many trips as we can to Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. And I teach them about being good stewards of the land and an example to others.

But on this day, my girls had a fun morning catching fish, roasting marshmallows over the campfire, climbing a rock wall and catching the spectacular view from a fire tower.

2 Responses to “Kids Visit Mom’s Co-Workers: Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl”

  1. Laurie Fritsch says:

    Thanks for sharing such a fun and important story. I’m sure your daughters learned a lot more than you’ll ever know about how to prevent forest fires and about throwing our garbage away in the proper place. Well done!

  2. Ward White says:

    What fun! So many Milwaukeeans enjoy and love the Betty Brinn. Thanks for sharing your unique story as a US Forest Service person and family. It reminds us that the Betty Brinn is one a Milwaukee’s very special treasures.

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