Here you can find some of the best examples of winning programs in recent years. We created this gallery to:
- Inspire people looking to implement successful and innovative wildfire prevention programs;
- Recognize the best in the field and identify these individuals as a resource for collaboration on ideas and programs;
- Provide quality submission examples for future applicants to reference.
We hope you enjoy and benefit from this collection of winning programs. May these inspire you to continue your service in promoting wildfire prevention. Check back often for more award-winning projects!
Smokey Bear 75th Planning Team - 2020
In November 2016, an interagency team began planning a year-long celebration of Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday. The team included members from the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council.
The celebration kicked off with the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, Calif., and concluded in December 2019 with the Secretary of Agriculture’s Christmas Tree lighting in Washington, D.C. Other major events throughout the year included the development of an exhibit at Smokey’s former enclosure at the National Zoo, a nationwide distance learning opportunity (Smokey Bear LIVE), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, an August 9th Time Square appearance, New York Times crossword puzzle and Jeopardy! mentions, and more than 300 birthday parties across the country – including an official birthday party at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Whitten Building Patio.
The team also created and/or managed innovative initiatives, including special fire prevention-editions of the Natural Inquirer and Fire Management Today, 75th-branded products available through the National Symbols Cache and State Foresters Store, an online event clearinghouse (Smokeybear75th.org), and a traveling exhibit of Rudy Wendelin’s Smokey Bear artwork.
A campaign toolbox, housed on SmokeyBear.com, included special-edition 75th artwork, template governor and mayor proclamations for honoring Smokey’s big day, special animated emoji tv and radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs) featuring celebrities Al Roker, Betty White, Jeff Foxworthy, and Steven Colbert, social media and outdoor PSA graphics, as well as additional free event materials and official talking points.
The team’s vision for Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday centered on the icon’s core message of personal responsibility. The largest birthday events (like the parades) focused on reaching adults, kids, and all those in between with the core “Only YOU can prevent wildfires” message, while “smaller” events (like the Smokey geocaching tags and pointed social media campaigns) were geared more toward young adults and children not as familiar with Smokey and his famous tagline.
How You Can Do The Same:
Between November 2016 and February 2020, the Smokey Bear 75th Birthday interagency planning team used (1) the Incident Command System (ICS) structure to organize and assign responsibilities and (2) an Incident Action Plan (IAP) to track individual projects.
Planning and implementing the scope-of-work for Smokey’s 75th birthday celebration was far beyond the normal annual program work for any member of the team. Not only were Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention members involved, so were thousands of volunteers, state forestry agency staff, and local fire departments. All of the team’s monthly and ad-hoc meetings over a three-year period were documented. Detailed budgets were kept and quarterly highlights were distributed. And all its members had clear objectives, roles, and responsibilities.
The Smokey Bear 75th Planning Team was uniquely successful because it used the incident command model. This model is totally scalable and can be used by any team for just about any project, anywhere.
Carrie Bilbao - 2018
Fire Prevention, Education, Information and Investigation, Bureau of Land Management - Boise District
Carrie Bilbao has contributed to more than 15 years of service to interagency fire investigation: developing curriculum for and facilitating fire investigation trainings, providing NWCG guidance documents, and serving as a subject matter expert on high profile trespass cases, NFPET teams, and in the development of fire prevention and education campaigns. Her work has reached hundreds of thousands of individuals and saved the government millions of dollars.
Following Idaho’s 2012 fire season, in which the number of exploding target fires had increased, she finished a study on exploding targets and helped craft a fire education campaign that would “target” a variety of audiences to educate. Her scripts and videos were used for the One Less Spark campaign, which aired throughout the country and is credited with helping to reduce exploding target fire starts across Idaho by 80% between 2012 and 2016.
Carrie has also helped to develop other PSA scripts and trainings. Currently, she is working with NIFC on the development of the 2018 Fire Refresher video which will address fire investigations. She also developed a common core fire prevention and education curriculum for fourth-graders that debuted in the Boise School District, but is now used across the western U.S.
Carrie is a recognized resource by the USDA Forest Service, Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Idaho State Fire Marshal’s Office, and numerous local fire and law enforcement agencies. Her expertise and programmatic leadership has been utilized in interagency fire investigation programs in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, California, Oregon, and Montana. She has also engaged in a cooperative relationship with the state of West Virginia utilizing a canine handler and trailing dogs to work on suspected arson fires.
How You Can Do The Same:
Develop a campaign or curriculum that is picked up nationally to educate residents about an important fire start in your community. Demonstrate the national impacts of your wildfire prevention work on the effort to reduce human-caused wildfires.
Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact - 2018
The Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact – which covers the states of Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland – is responsible for multiple projects over multiple years that have directly reduced the number of human caused wildfires. Every year, the Compact’s Prevention Committee, which donates its time, evaluates common areas and causes of wildfires and utilizes its funds and supplemental grants to develop and produce prevention products and materials.
Over the last several years, through workshops, conferences, and classrooms, the Compact has reached tens of thousands of people with its message. In recent years, the Compact’s prevention messages and educational materials have begun being included in mainstream prevention tool kits used across the nation.
Every product developed and produced by the Compact is thoroughly vetted by the prevention committee. National themes are used to guide development, but do not limit creativity and local needs. The end products are innovative, easily utilized, and cost-effective; making them highly marketable and accessible nationwide.
How You Can Do The Same:
Collaborate with partners from other United States regions and other countries to develop materials and products that are accessible, easily replicable, and deliver a consistent national wildfire prevention message. Share those resources with agencies and partners that can make them available nationally.
Gwen Hensley - 2015
Visual Information Specialist, USFS Daniel Boone National Forest
Gwen Hensley was selected as a gold Smokey Bear award recipient due to her extraordinary creativity and talent bringing ideas and concepts to life through graphic artistry. Her numerous skills in graphic design, printing, communication, leadership, and attention to detail have made her stand out from the rest. Gwen’s background and knowledge of printing has helped tremendously in the production of products for agencies and individuals in times of emergency andhigh importance. Gwen has shown dedication not only to the high quality and timeliness of her work, but also in how she can improve the efficiency of the product development process through education. She has given briefings in Texas and Utah on how to properly take pictures in order to ensure their usefulness for creating documents. Gwen has been a resource for fire prevention education teams (FPETs) nationally for many years and has provided artwork, ideas, and input on various materials. Her ability to adapt products for FPETs in a timely manner and electronically deliver them ready to print has proven to be an extremely valuable resource. Gwen has demonstrated her commitment for the need to find various ways to share material. Thanks to her outstanding work and dedication, Gwen has helped deliver a better understanding of wildfire prevention efforts on both a local and national level.
- Utilized software to produce posters that communicate with color, visual appeal, and simplicity to draw a person’s interest to the message. Has brought to life campaigns, posters, brochures, flyers, and many other products through graphic art.
- Put documents into language understood by printers to get quality products in a very short timeframe.
- Dedicated to educating agencies and team members in assignments on how their efforts can be more efficient in the product development process. Has given briefings in Texas and Utah on how to take pictures at the right resolution and orientation to have the pictures be useful for the document being created.
- Employed knowledge on copyright and trademark regulations that have helped prevent inadvertent inclusion of things on a poster that could derail the effort due to legal errors.
- Has been utilized in website development for national wildfire prevention work.
- Has used tools such as Dropbox and other cloud-based options to make work available to many states, agencies, localities and individuals.
- Worked on a Utah prevention team where a prevention specialist wanted a product that stood out to passing motorists. Gwen heard him mention a color in passing that originally drew laughs, but the product she produced was a sign in neon green that was extremely effective and well received by the host agency.
- The Stop Arson Campaign in Kentucky, which utilized her depiction of a child at a burned home, has been widely used by several agencies around the country. In reviewing the fire occurrence statistics, the thirteen years prior to the Stop Arson campaign the Daniel Boone National Forest averaged 123 fires per year; in the thirteen years since implementing the Stop Arson campaign that number dropped to an average of 71 fires per year.
- Was tasked as a technical specialist on a FPET to bring the graphic artistry to a range of products for the state of Texas. During a two- week assignment, 24 products were developed covering a range of Ready-Set-Go, arson prevention, range wildfire prevention, and a host of other products.
- Applied her background and knowledge of printing to create quality products in a short timeframe.
- Dedication and thoroughness when educating agencies and their team members on how to have a more efficient product development process through briefings.
- Understands and enforces Smokey Bear rules, appropriate use of logos, federal printing and publishing requirements, copyright law, and legal use of photos and images keeping everyone out of trouble.
How You Can Do The Same:
Utilize creative skills to develop innovative and effective promotional materials that can be used easily.
Ad Council and Helpsgood - 2014
- The Smokey Bear Social Media Program, 2010–2013
The Smokey Bear Social Media Program received this award for its success in vastly expanding the campaign’s audience through emerging digital media, while also reinforcing the campaign message to its core audience.
As the campaign targeted Americans 18 to 35 years old, HelpsGood, Smokey’s social media agency, understood the importance of establishing Smokey’s identity and prevention message on digital media. Through these efforts, Smokey’s social media presence enabled Smokey to have a daily presence in media and, more importantly, the creation of a two-way engagement with the campaign’s audience.
- Utilized trending topics and pop culture events, while infusing Smokey’s prevention message into commentary posted on social media.
- Participated in a weekly #ThrowbackThursday photo posting.
- Capitalized on existing partnerships between USFS and other organizations dedicated to exploring, appreciating and protecting our natural resources.
- Established a strong online social media presence, including 178,000 Facebook fans, 21,000 Twitter followers and 555,000 views of Smokey’s YouTube videos.
- Exceeded its goal of inspiring online conversation and promoting ongoing information sharing among the online audience.
- Produced an annual 69.1 million Twitter impressions and 87.4 million Facebook impressions. Through these impressions, Smokey’s social media program has driven over 20,000 users to SmokeyBear.com, where they can learn and pledge to take proper safety precautions when using fire outdoors.
- Used Smokey’s online media presence to capitalize on social media conversations, such as creating buzz around the similarities between Pharrell’s hat choice at the Grammy Awards and Smokey’s hat. This comparison resulted in over 36,000 tweets, 180 stories on national outlets and 58.5 million digital impressions.
How You Can Do The Same:
Insert Smokey’s wildfire prevention message into trending topics on social media and encourage others to partake in social media conversations surrounding Smokey and wildfire prevention.
Fred X. Turck - 2010
Assistant Director, Resource Protection
This award recipient was chosen for more than a decade of dedicated wildfire prevention efforts, including countless hours of donated time. The recipient showed outstanding commitment, motivation, and determination in educating the public and his colleagues to reduce human-caused wildfires.
His accomplishments at the local, state, national and international levels were: helping to develop and refine the National Fire Prevention and Education Team training; providing team support in Kentucky, Virginia and Jamaica; coordinating joint educational prevention activities for Southern and Mid-Atlantic states; and promoting numerous marketing and education products on his own time.
The award recipient is distinguished not only for his hard work and determination, but also for his creativity. His individual contributions to the projects include:
- His assistance in building the “Living with Fire” publication, which reached 13 states.
- Developing wildfire prevention advertisements that aired from 2005 to 2009 for the Little League World Series.
- Creating the “OUC” (Only You Can) car window decal, which mimics other popular three-letter “destination” decals.;
- Developing a prevention website and blog.
Thanks to his involvement and innovative thinking, he has spread the message of fire safety to many new audiences.
His consumer-oriented ideas over the last decade have been replicated by at least half of the nation’s state forestry agencies. Among his products:
- The Smokey Bear Big Story Book, a flip-style storybook about Smokey Bear, which was published on Smokey’s 65th birthday and serves as the main national wildfire prevention tool for introducing young children to Smokey Bear.
- More than 30,000 prevention-focused wall and pocket calendars produced in the last decade.
Directly targeting the public, including a prevention website, PSAs geared toward particular events, product giveaways, and educational publications.
- Partnerships: Worked cooperatively with local, state and federal government organizations, fire associations and members of general public in 20 states.
- Patchwork Funding: Leveraged contacts across agencies with creative fundraising, allowing for significant promotion of wildfire prevention products over many years.
- FRANK RILEY - 2021
- Executive Director, Chestatee-Chattahoochee RC&D Council
Frank Riley’s career-long dedication to promoting wildfire prevention has earned him a Silver Smokey Bear Award. Frank has used every opportunity, small and large, as the executive director of the Chestatee-Chattahoochee RC&D Council, a state Firewise USA liaison, a volunteer firefighter, a member of the Appalachian RC&D Council Fire Adapted Communities Coalition, and chair of the Georgia Prescribed Fire Council to champion wildfire prevention.
In just the past two years, Frank has given hundreds of presentations, displayed inflatable Smokey Bears and Smokey Bear banners in popular parades and fairs, and handed out promotional prevention materials at more than 150 events. According to the Georgia Forestry Commission, there were 1,566 human-caused wildfires in 2020—51% fewer fires than the five-year average. Frank contributed tremendously to this improvement.
How you can do the same:
Consider how you or your organization might be able to partner with like-minded groups to promote wildfire prevention messaging. If you’re not already active in your regional forest fire prevention compact or local prescribed fire council, get involved. You may find reaching out to non-traditional players can help leverage resources, increase capacity, and/or allow you to reach new stakeholders.
- AARON KLOSS - 2020
- FIRE PREVENTION PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR, OHIO DIVISION OF FORESTRY
Aaron Kloss has worked for the Ohio Division of Forestry for 17 years. In that time, Aaron has improved, expanded, and provided direction for wildfire prevention and education efforts in all seven member states of the Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact. Two projects in particular – one state-based and one regional – have earned Aaron a 2020 Smokey Bear Award.
Back in 2014, Aaron began working with students at the Columbus College of Art and Design and professionals with the 2Tall Animation Studio to research, design, and create a new “Smokey Bear Song” animated video. Assigning the project to art college students provided a low-cost way to develop engaging content for the Smokey campaign, as well as a new approach to communicating “Smokey’s Five Rules” to school-aged children.
During Fire Safety Week in 2014, the Smokey Bear Song video and other Smokey goodies (like comics and coloring books) were sent to 821 elementary school classrooms across the state as part of a “Smokey's Fire Prevention" teacher kit. These wildfire prevention kits reached over 15,000 third graders and the Smokey Bear Song video has since been viewed over 310,000 times on YouTube.
In 2017, Aaron began working with the Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact to develop a Smokey Bear-themed, 16-page “outsert” for Highlights Magazine. The project was started by the compact with a $115,000 Wildfire Risk Reduction grant from the USDA Forest Service, but by mid-2018, had garnered over $80,000 in state forestry agency and fire compact donations, as well as additional Forest Service grant dollars through agreements with the National Association of State Foresters.
Well before the outsert was delivered to over 530,000 Highlights subscribers throughout the U.S. and Canada in April 2019, Aaron was leading meetings with Highlights staff to ensure they fully understood Smokey’s message. Click here to read a press release on the Smokey Bear 75th Birthday Highlights outsert.
How you can do the same:
Aaron’s state-based work in support of the Smokey Bear wildfire prevention campaign has made a difference at the regional level! He took his passion for wildfire prevention and put it to work creating programs with universal appeal.
What’s the takeaway? It doesn’t matter how small your start is – your idea could easily be championed regionally or even nationally with a good foundation, hard work, and persistence.
- LAUREN MALONEY AND KAREN CURTISS - 2018
- Lauren Maloney, Fire Mitigation & Education Specialist, OR/WA BLM and R6 Forest Service
Karen Curtiss, Fire Management Specialist , OR/WA BLM and R6 Forest Service
Lauren Maloney and Karen Curtiss have been working to build regional and national capacity for the National Fire Prevention Education Team (FPET) program since 2014, when drought conditions in Oregon and Washington first prompted an interagency response.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) State Office and the USDA Forest Service (FS) Region 6 Regional Office used fire severity funds to build the seven consecutive FPET teams that Lauren and Karen would work with that season, developing and implementing measures to reduce human-caused wildfires in Oregon and Washington.
The two began with an interagency analysis of human-caused fire data, which has since sparked regional and national interest in moving beyond single-agency fire-cause data and looking at larger area, multi-agency approaches to address human-caused fires. Their data was later used to develop and test an application that allows local prevention co-ops, incoming FPETs, and other interested parties to select an area within a region and analyze local fire causes. If the application (available here) proves useful, prevention professionals in other parts of the country are interested in expanding it beyond Oregon and Washington.
Lauren and Karen also established the Pacific Northwest Fire Adapted Communities (PNW FAC) logo and brand, and with help from several national FPET leaders, developed a four-year strategy to build FPET and general fire prevention capacity in the Pacific Northwest. That strategy – based on a series of training courses – not only increased fire prevention capacity in Oregon and Washington, but increased the visibility, use, and capability of the FPET program nationally over the next several years; most recently helping to enhance fire prevention on public lands during the Great American Solar Eclipse.
Neither Lauren or Karen received regular Forest Service funding to support their wildfire prevention efforts; instead, both were motivated to provide interagency “Service First” leadership due to their shared personal commitment to effective and collaborative public service.
How You Can Do The Same:
Share fire-cause data and work to develop multi-agency approaches to reducing human-caused fires throughout your multi-state area. Agencies and organizations can also increase their capacity for communicating about fire prevention with FPET training and/or by using consistent and time-tested messaging. Develop a regional plan that uses existing (and new) resources that are available, expanding the reach of trainings, FPETs, and messages. Check out Lauren and Karen’s website for sharing information with interagency field prevention and public information personnel and their Twitter account for tried-and-true ways to communicate prevention messages via social media.
- KEVIN CONRAN - 2016
- Project Synopsis:
Kevin Conran received a Silver Smokey Bear Award for his efforts above and beyond the normal call of duty as a fire specialist, working outside his duties and normal hours in an inter-agency manner. The group particularly liked the unique and creative Outdoor Explorer Program that he founded. Kevin attended several community meetings, displayed very strong leadership, raised funds, and helped rejuvenate a local fire committee.
- Kevin developed the Outdoor Explorer Program which provides outdoor education and experiences to children with mental and physical disabilities to help them to engage in the outdoors and learn critical fire prevention tips. Kevin eventually helped replicate this type of program across state lines to Wyoming and Utah.
- He helped the Upper Snake Interagency Working Group coordinate wildland fire prevention efforts through several fire departments and agencies in and around the greater Idaho Falls area.
- He organized training sessions with the National Fire Academy’s Juvenile Fire-Setter Intervention Specialist for local fire and law enforcement agencies.
- With additional training, local fire and law enforcement agencies were able to identify the specific causes of human-caused wildfires more accurately, enabling these agencies to more effectively target prevention campaigns and activities.
- Over the past five years, the average number of human caused wildfires has decreased by 33% in and around Idaho Falls.
- Kevin worked with other federal and local agencies to improve fire prevention outreach by better understanding where to target those outreach efforts.
- He created a program with other local organizations to ensure that fire prevention tips and tactics were shared with all members of the community.
How You Can Do The Same:
- Create youth programs that immerse children in the outdoors and teach them the importance of wildfire prevention along with the tactics to handle fire in a smart, safe way.
- Work with federal, state, and local organizations to better address wildfire prevention and improve how they communicate with the public on this issue.
- JIMMYE TURNER - 2016
- Project Synopsis:
Jimmye Turner received a Silver Smokey Bear Award for utilizing his unique talent of artistry to bring issues such as wildfire prevention, conservation, and fire safety to children and their parents. Through an array of original cartoon characters, Jimmye depicted both the impact of unwanted wildfires and the importance of preventing them. While his initial efforts were locally based in Oregon and Washington, Jimmye extended the geographical reach of his talent via the web and social media.
- Jimmye produced original artwork depicting animals and key wildlife species in habitats traditionally threated by human-caused wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.
- He produced animal trading cards with a fire revention tip on each card, along with a fun fact about the corresponding animal.
- To further support the wildfire prevention and animal habitat protection effort, Jimmye expanded his initial project so that a suite of products and themes were available for interagency and inter-state application. These are now hosted on a website that distributes them to field units across the Pacific Northwest
- In the past two years, Jimmye has made 75 visits and presentations at elementary schools throughout Northeast Oregon and Southwest Washington, teaching thousands of children on the importance of wildfire prevention.
- In an effort to spread his wildfire prevention message further, Jimmye has fostered strong positive relationships with municipal, state and federal partners in the field of wildfire prevention and forest conservation.
Jimmye used his creativity to design, create, and implement innovative ideas, such as his Fire Prevention Trading Cards, to spread wildfire prevention messages.
How You Can Do The Same:
- Be creative and think of how to implement new youth-targeted strategies to help spread wildfire prevention messages.
- Create new promotional materials in efficient and inventive ways that people can easily use.
- SOLEDAD HOLGUIN - 2014
- BIA PACIFIC REGIONAL OFFICE
Soledad has toured various Native American tribes in the Pacific region to teach them fire prevention techniques. She has taken her wildfire prevention education to the next level through researching and developing interactive curricula specific to the value systems of each tribe.
She addresses the individual fire causes for each community and understands the need to tie wildfire prevention to the heritage of the community, the land and natural resources. She has presented at conferences, tribal events, meetings and trainings across the western United States and has kept wildfire prevention relevant by innovating methods to ensure that forest, range and grassland health appeals to all ages.
- Created one of the most popular exhibits at Camp Smokey during the state fair with the message “Safe Fire, Unsafe Fire,” which describes safe use of fire by Native Americans.
- Led a prevention team on the Pine Ridge Reservation that included presentations on the dangers of wildfires in the community, called “Decisions” and “ASSETS (Adult supervision, Small, Serves a purpose, Enhances the environment, Tribal benefit for the community, Safe fire use)” outlining Native American traditional use and respect of fire.
- Created the slogans, “Look up for powerlines and tree canopies. Look down, fireworks should be lit on dirt or gravel. Look around, keep away from people, vehicles, buildings, and propane tanks,” in order to teach members safe practices for firework use, a large part of one tribe’s livelihood. The children were taught this information by song and pow-wow dance at the Boys and Girls Club.
- Educated radio listeners about the risks of unwanted human-caused fires with a local child drumming the Smokey Bear song before and after the announcement.
- Helped found the California Wildlife Coordination Group Interagency Fire Prevention Committee and put together the California State Interagency Fire Prevention Conference and Interagency Training.
- Reduced wildfires in one of her tribes from 100+ per year to less than 31 per year.
- Worked with approximately 106 Indian reservations in California to reduce human-caused ignitions over the past 10 years.
- Engaged more than 11,000 children and parents each year in the Camp Smokey experience, an exhibit that teaches different fire prevention and safety lessons at multiple stations.
- Applies her passion for prevention and bilingual skills to readily connect with audiences, including Native American, Hispanic, Asian and others.
- Routinely organizes and funds unique educational fire events, programs and trainings that engage new prevention partners.
How You Can Do The Same:
Research your community to understand the value system. Develop interactive prevention strategies that respect and enrich cultural and traditional boundaries.
- MIKE DAVIS - 2014
- FMO USDA FOREST SERVICE CHATTAHOOCHEE-OCONEE NATIONAL FORESTS
Mike has utilized large, diverse audience opportunities to create low-cost campaigns across state borders. He created PSAs and placed them on highways and in movie theater ads. He worked with local organizations, such as Home Depot and local libraries, to reach the largest audience possible.
- Partnered with volunteer fire departments, the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association, Fire Corps Volunteer groups, and others.
- Developed relationships with 15 libraries to deliver Smokey Bear bookmarks and cutouts and enlisted the libraries to place displays, the cutouts, and provide website information during wildfire seasons.
- Worked with Home Depot to cover invitations for agency personnel to come to Kids Fire Prevention Workshops that 1,500 people attended.
- Provided signs to be placed at four fire stations that reach thousands of Georgia residents.
- Used an inflatable Smokey Bear at the Georgia Mountain Fair, reaching 5,000–6,000 people at their “Smokey Bear’s Ranger Station.”
- Delivered “Living with Fire” inserts to several county newspapers, with a circulation of 7,000–7,500.
- Worked with several local radio and cable stations to run Smokey Bear PSAs.
- Made the effort to preserve Harry Rossoll’s historic hat, that related to the early days of wildfire prevention and the Smokey Bear ad campaign, in the Smithsonian.
- Secured funding for four years to cover the costs of a wildfire prevention PSA in a movie theater that sells 250,000 tickets annually from six county areas. The movie theater is located in a county that is over 65% national forest land and has an extremely high wildland urban interface (WUI).
- Utilized a digital billboard to a traffic count of 10,000 vehicles over a 6-month period.
By taking advantage of his current resources, such as Smokey Bear cutouts and other prevention materials, Mike has illustrated the importance that targeted messaging can have to gain the largest reach using minimal resources.
How You Can Do The Same:
Be resourceful and implement low-cost investments that reach large audiences over long periods of time through targeted promotional techniques, reusing icons like Smokey Bear, and partnering with local organizations that can help your message reach the most people.
- ANGEL CRESPO - 2013
- CUERPO DE BOMBEROS DE PUERTO RICO; PUERTO RICO FIRE DEPARTMENT
Puerto Rico’s Fire Chief Angel Crespo has developed a persona known as “Bombero Rapero” (the Fireman Rapper). Under this persona, he composes and performs music that addresses fire prevention and reaches audiences throughout Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Latin America and the United States with large Spanish-speaking populations. His song “Fuego Forestal,” which translates to “Forest Fire,” urges his listeners to take proper precautions to prevent wildfires and specifically appeals to islanders to stop the common practice of debris burning.
He spreads this message by performing at community awareness events, even those where the Puerto Rico Fire Department typically lacks a presence. He has also been featured on television news outlets and has established an internet presence through his music video for “Fuego Forestal” (Forest Fire). In addition to Bombero Rapero, he has partnered with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources in an effort to inform the public about the role humans play in starting wildfires.
- New level of wildfire awareness in Puerto Rico and the United States.
- Reaches people of all ages in different countries.
- Created public persona and performs at community events.
- Specifically targets Spanish-speaking audiences.
- Released an album and provided easily downloadable songs.
- Cohosted a joint press conference with local government department.
Creativity: Uses rap and hard rock music to promote wildfire prevention in a fresh, innovative and unexpected way.
- NEBRASKA PARTNERS IN PREVENTION - 2012
- Project Synopsis:
The Nebraska Partners in Prevention, a group of volunteers dedicated to promoting wildfire prevention, was established in 2001 and has been recognized with two Smokey Bear awards – bronze in 2004 and silver in 2009. Their creativity and innovation, both in approaching the issue and educating the public, have set a standard that can be replicated in every state. The Partners regularly present educational workshops targeting the general public, as well as local, state and federal fire-prevention professionals interested in building or improving fire-prevention programs.
They have distinguished themselves by marketing the issue of wildfire prevention in new and exciting ways: by developing yearly “Wildfire Awareness Month” and “Fire Prevention Month” slogans, partnering with a regional food warehouse firm to distribute plastic bags printed with a wildfire prevention message, working with students to create their own prevention campaigns, and implementing the “Neighbor to Neighbor” program, in which wildfire-safety toolkits are given to farmers and ranchers throughout the state. The five members have clocked countless hours, driven thousands of miles, and attended hundreds of fire department and community meetings across many states.
- For almost a decade, the Partners have donated 1,500–2,000 hours annually, presenting their message to both the general public and wildfire-prevention professionals in nine states.
- Their impact is evidenced by their innovative partnership with a regional food warehouse. During the two-year partnership, 7.5 million plastic bags were printed with a fire-safety message, at no cost.
The Partners have promoted their various programs through word of mouth, as well as local media contacts, and their contributions have been picked up by outlets such as National Public Radio.
- New outreach: Reaching farmers, ranchers and students with specifically tailored wildfire prevention information.
- Volunteer talent: Volunteers are respected members of their communities and become local champions of fire prevention.
- Corporate partnerships: Forging fruitful alliance with a regional food warehouse, producing 7.5 million plastic bags with fire-safety messages at no cost.
- ANNE NELSON - 2021
- Chief Assistant Attorney General, Alaska Department of Law
Anne Nelson of the Alaska Department of Law was chosen to receive a Bronze Smokey Bear Award for her instrumental role in modernizing Alaska’s Wildland Fire Prevention Statutes and Regulations. As the drafting attorney, Anne took the original statutes—which were adopted in 1961 when Alaska’s population was less than one-third of what it is today—and updated them to enhance wildfire prevention efforts in the wildland urban interface, where humans start more than 80% of wildfires in the state.
In addition to ushering the bill through the legislative process, Anne assisted in drafting regulations for its implementation. The new regulations have been a springboard for the Alaska Division of Forestry’s public education campaign—“Take the time to LEARN before you burn”—and its mascot Spruce the Moose, who will work alongside Smokey Bear to prevent forest fires through education and outreach.
How you can do the same:
Whatever your chosen profession, chances are you can contribute to wildfire prevention. So think outside of the box. Consider how you might apply your unique skills and experience to preventing wildfires, and then take those ideas to your state forestry agency or nearest national forest.
- PATRICK MAHONEY - 2020
- MITIGATION SPECIALIST, FLORIDA FOREST SERVICE
Patrick has a knack for advertising. He’s the one responsible for the new Smokey Bear fire danger signs used statewide. Two are located prominently at the Charlotte Sports Complex – where the Tampa Bay Rays hold spring training and the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Rays’ minor league affiliate, play all season long. An additional 16 signs adorn major interstates (301, SR70, 62, and 39).
In 2016, Patrick turned a plain wooden fence off 53rd Ave into a Smokey Bear mural that continues to grab the attention of 50,000 commuters on average every day. The fence was even featured in a collector’s publication – the Smokey Bear Association News – as a suitable “Vacation Destination for the SBA Member.”
Patrick has put Smokey’s message on the move for the last four years with stock car racer Ronnie Robinson. Robinson proudly races his one-of-a-kind Smokey Bear stock cars at Bradenton Motorsports Park, and now, thanks to Patrick’s work, the Cherokee Tribe in Oklahoma now sponsors a “Smokey Bear car” at the Salina Highbanks Speedway.
Perhaps most impressively, Patrick organized a Smokey Bear 75th Birthday Scavenger Hunt that sent geocachers across the state in search of Smokey swag. The contest became a fad once the local media got involved. There were 75 items in 32 locations including city, county, state, and federal parks. To receive credit for their finds, the daily winners posted pictures of themselves with the recovered items to social media. The overall winners received a basket that was worth over $1,100 in goods donated by local businesses.
The “75 Days of Smokey” scavenger hunt covered six counties and several media markets. It took almost a year to plan and has opened the door for more opportunities to work with other Florida agencies. At its close, the Florida Forest Service threw a birthday party for Smokey at the Charlotte Sports Complex that attracted considerable local media coverage.
How you can do the same:
Patrick's passion is spreading the word of Smokey Bear. If this sounds like you, your next step should be to get involved with your state forestry agency. Already have a full-time job? You can still make a difference by volunteering at Smokey events, echoing Smokey’s messages on social media, or even participating in a scavenger hunt! Your state forestry agency is a great starting point to get involved in all of the above.
- SAMUEL MCCALIP – 2019
- WILDLAND URBAN INTERFACE SPECIALIST, TEXAS A&M FOREST SERVICE
When Samuel McCalip first joined the Texas A&M Forest Service in 2016 as a forester/wildland firefighter/public information officer/prevention team member, he mentioned he had an interest in photography and wanted to learn more about producing video for strategic communications. Samuel has since turned his interest into an art.
By early 2017, Samuel had taught himself how to use GoPro cameras and had begun creating videos for the agency to use in promoting its updated "Do Your Part, Don't Let a Wildfire Start" prevention campaign. By the end of that year, he’d taught himself how to produce high-quality, professional videos that took the Texas A&M Forest Service’s visual communications to a whole new level.
As of March 2019, Samuel has produced over a dozen informational, educational, and promotional videos for the agency. His content has greatly enhanced the Texas A&M Forest Service’s online presence, boosting the volume of visitors to its website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.
Here is a sampling of Samuel’s videos:
Protect Texas from Wildfires = 1,000 views, 12 shares
Safe Debris Burning = 8,400 views, 180 shares
Parking on Dry Grass = 2,300 views, 50 shares
Dragging Chains = 10,000 views, 282 shares
Safe Equipment Use = 5,400 views, 70 shares
Samuel is now sharing his videography skills with his coworkers via training sessions so more high-quality videos can be produced at a lower cost to the agency. The coworkers he’s mentored produced the following:
Happy 74th Birthday, Smokey Bear! = 6,200 views, 135 shares
Fire Danger after Rain = 2,300 views, 49 shares
Samuel's video projects were paid for with state allocated funds.
How you can do the same:
We live in a world driven by visual communication, where information imparted via video is more memorable than through written word. Samuel McCalip recognized that the Texas A&M Forest Service’s Prevention and Mitigation Department PSAs were lacking, so he took it upon himself to find a solution. He cultivated a discerning eye for compelling videos that inspire behavioral changes. He found that by using casual settings and peer-to-peer learning in his videos, he eliminated the need for memorizing scripts and had an easier time connecting with his audience. The best part of Samuel’s work? It’s easily shareable and relevant across regions.
- ANDREW HOSTAD – 2019
- FIRE PREVENTION LEAD, USFS COCONINO NATIONAL FOREST, FLAGSTAFF RANGER DISTRICT
Andrew Hostad leads wildfire prevention programming in northern Arizona for the Flagstaff Ranger District in the Coconino National Forest, a recreation destination for tens of thousands of visitors annually. His efforts to educate his peers, engineer program solutions, and enforce effective prevention measures over the last three years have paid off.
Between 2015, when he started as the fire prevention lead for the Flagstaff Ranger District, and 2018, Andrew and his team extinguished 1,977 abandoned campfires. The number of extinguished abandoned campfires increased after Andrew came on board from 275 in 2014 to 555 in 2015, to 601 in 2016, and 821 in 2017. He credits his team’s awesome ability to detect and extinguish fires to planning ahead with historical campfire GIS data, which allows them to target limited resources in the areas with the highest probability of having the most abandoned campfires.
In 2018, during extreme drought conditions and high visitor volumes, Andrew organized and deployed four area closures within the Coconino National Forest that prevented 100% of abandoned campfires from breaking out. These closures – which were not used or widely accepted as management tools prior to Andrew’s tenure – spared firefighters and Arizona residents from wildfire damages and saved the Forest Service and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management millions of dollars in would-be suppression costs.
Andrew created the closure plans, coordinated the necessary resources, and gave interviews with media explaining the purpose and benefit of the closures. Multiple agencies and volunteer groups in Arizona supported the closures and found ways to work collaboratively with one another to fund and staff them.
Andrew also regularly collaborates with local schools, members of the media, and other forest stakeholders to host wildfire prevention events and promote educational campaigns, like “Ember Aware.” His office estimates he reaches upwards of 30,000 people a year with his work and says his professionalism and drive to prevent a catastrophic wildfire has made unparalleled impact.
How you can do the same:
Andrew and his crew planned ahead for wildfire season using campfire GIS data – something all prevention coordinators and managers can do in their own communities. Andrew was also willing to take a risk by trying area closures, which at the time, were untraditional and unproven methods for preventing wildfires.
No matter where you live or work, a lot of research and enough dedication will get you the results you want.
- TONTO NATIONAL FOREST WILDFIRE PREVENTION TEAM AND EVERY KID IN A PARK PROGRAM - 2018
- Project Synopsis:
Two years ago, the Tonto National Forest took its highly successful wildfire prevention program to new heights by partnering with the national Every Kid in a Park initiative to implement an innovative, forest-wide prevention program.
Together, the Tonto National Forest Wildfire Prevention Team and the Every Kid in a Park program have held 54 events across three ranger districts and co-hosted an additional three events in partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The multi-agency effort also helped more than 5,000 fourth graders in Arizona – living within 3,100 square miles of Phoenix and in remote locations surrounding the Cave Creek, Globe, and Mesa Ranger Districts of the Tonto National Forest – get outdoors with a free annual pass to federal lands.
How You Can Do The Same:
Try partnering with several like-minded local or federal organizations to spread wildfire prevention messages within your community and throughout your state. Reach out to an agency you haven’t worked with and form a new partnership.
- SOUTHWEST MONTANA GEOGRAPHIC ZONE OF THE NORTHERN ROCKIES COORDINATING GROUP - 2018
- Project Synopsis:
The fire seasons of 2015, 2016, and 2017 all had record breaking conditions, but by using clearer and consistent language for restrictions orders, communities throughout western Montana and the Southwest Montana Zone were able to successfully implement restrictions and closures during all three seasons.
The Southwest Montana Zone – which includes the Bitterroot National Forest, Montana Southwestern Land Office, Missoula Field Office BLM, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (Flathead Agency BIA), and Missoula County – created and implemented restrictions, prevention, and closure plans to guide all the governing bodies within the Zone (i.e. city councils, county commissioners, tribes, rural fire departments, and land management agencies) through the process of enacting and discontinuing restrictions.
In coordination with a local Interagency Prevention Team, a GAC prevention team, and the area’s county fire wardens and commissioners, the Zone staff worked to ensure all restrictions were enacted and explained to the public with consistent messaging. Within three years of implementing the plans and boosting coordinated outreach efforts in Zone communities, the number of fires started by abandoned campfires and escaped debris burns had dropped to just 45 in 2017.
How You Can Do The Same:
Collaborate with local government entities and citizen groups to develop consistent messaging for restriction orders and educational fire prevention campaigns. Document wildfire starts from year to year and demonstrate a decrease in ignitions due to your wildfire prevention efforts.
Certificate: Jordan Koppen
Fire Prevention and Education Specialist with the Southwestern Land Office
Montana Department of Natural Resources
Certificate: Chris Johnson
Forest Training & Prevention Specialist
USDA/Region 1/ USFA/ Lolo National Forests
- RUSSELL COWART - 2018
- FOREST RANGER 2, ARKANSAS FORESTRY COMMISSION
For years, Arkansas Forestry Commission personnel have been contacted by teachers, instructors and civic groups to provide wildfire prevention programs for pre-school-age students to adults. Each county worked to provide 30-minute presentations based on local fire knowledge and experience, but no statewide tool or message was available.
That changed with Rusty Cowart’s Arkansas Jr. Wildland Firefighter Guide – a tool for educating 2nd through 5th grade students about Arkansas wildfire prevention and suppression, prescribed fire, and general forest facts and fire safety tips.
Rusty knew a state-specific resource was needed to help Arkansas's young people understand how wildfire behavior, causes, and suppression are unique in every region. The entire guide is based off of narratives and experiences of Arkansas Forestry Commission personnel – real life experiences and examples that make its lessons easy to remember and relate to.
With help from a USDA Forest Service mitigation grant, Rusty's Jr. Wildland Firefighter Guide reached approximately 30,000 Arkansas students. Arkansas educators have requested the guide be printed and incorporated into an organized curriculum for the classroom and at-home learning.
How You Can Do The Same:
Try highlighting local and state examples of wildfire behavior and prevention activities to make your locale-specific message more relevant and memorable. Create an innovative way to get messaging to targeted audiences at a state-level.
- THOMAS CHAMPION - 2018
- SUPERINTENDENT 4, NJ STATE PARK SERVICE - BELLEPLAIN STATE FOREST
Since 1980, the Smokey Bear Birthday Party has been held on Labor Day weekend at the Belleplain State Forest in New Jersey. It is a day-long event complete with a coloring contest, a space to create t-shirts, and of course, a chance to meet and take pictures with Smokey Bear (who arrives via helicopter!). Throughout the celebration, fire prevention is the focus; and by days end, all 1,000 attendees have enjoyed birthday cake and ice cream.
Since the beginning of this program, Tom Champion has been a part of it. He has planned and organized this event with help from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service each year, acquiring donations from local businesses and fire departments, making purchases for the celebration (including prizes from Woodland Enterprises), and working with state staff to develop a schedule of events.
With this long-term program, Tom has helped decrease the number of human-caused fire starts in the area and managed to keep visitors coming back year after year. Many of the "kids" that once attended with their families long ago are now bringing their own children to celebrate Smokey Bear. Tom has truly developed an endearing, fun program that tells the story of fire prevention and teaches its importance.
How You Can Do The Same:
Organize a fire prevention event that becomes a sustainable, annual event. Reach out to your local wildfire prevention partners for help with planning and financing the educational event. Success comes from working with partners, expanding a program beyond “one time”, and tracking a reduction in wildfire starts.
- JENNIFER MYSLIVY - 2017
- FIRE MITIGATION AND EDUCATIONAL SPECIALIST, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Jennifer Myslivy was selected as a Bronze Smokey Bear award recipient due to her contribution of several programs in the area of wildfire prevention. Her efforts included the robust One Less Spark campaign and a creation of an annual Idaho Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wildfire prevention order. She also created a webpage that has more than 1 million page views; an expanded fire trespass program; and participation and leadership on several prevention teams and committees.
Myslivy created a webpage, Facebook page, and hashtag promotion for the Steppe Up education campaign.
This program brought the awareness of sagebrush steppe habitat to the forefront of public awareness and highlighted the impacts of human-caused wildfires on the habitat. Myslivy highlighted specific ecological impacts on plants and the animals that depend on them such as wildfire destroying sagebrush and being replaced by cheatgrass.
- Appealing, educational infographics share information quickly and understandably.
- Social media presence keep people involved and the issues on their minds.
How you can do the same:
Create relatable promotional materials about regionally important issues with ecological background that people can easily understand. Create a social media presence that encourages people to get involved with important issues.
- RAYMOND JOHNSON - 2017
- FIRE PREVENTION TECHNICIAN, USFS HUMBOLDT-TOIYABE NF (SPRING MOUNTAINS NATIONAL RECREATION AREA)
Raymond Johnson has been passionately working on wildfire prevention since 1999. Johnson, known as “Ranger Ray” by his students, reached out to schools, sometimes presenting at four schools a day during a 40-year partnership between the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Clark County School District, the largest school district in Nevada.
The program brought wildfire prevention programming to a large audience of children early on in their education. During the fall of 2015, Johnson went into more than 50 schools, delivering his wildfire prevention message to more than 8,300 students. Johnson had a similar reach in 2016. He also staffed booths at rodeos and other events, helped produce a school play about wildfire prevention and the USDA Forest Service, and made appearances on English and Spanish-language news outlets. When Johnson discovered that a surge in roadside wildfires was caused by Spanish-speakers lighting warming fires, he tackled the issue by advertising in Spanish language media outlets and using Spanish-speaking members of his crew as interpreters. The following year, these roadside starts decreased dramatically from 17 fires in 1999 to only one fire in 2000.
- Presentations at local schools
- Appearances on local news stations, radio, and newspapers
- Use of interpreters to reach target audiences
- Decreased roadside fires from 17 to one in just one year
- Reached over 8,300 students at 50 schools a year
Raymond Johnson used creative marketing that allowed him to reach broad audiences and focus on target demographics when needed.
How you can do the same:
Reach out to local schools and media outlets to get education to diverse audiences. Find the source of a rising wildfire cause and create a media campaign to reach the target demographic.
- JON MOTSINGER - 2016
- Project Synopsis:
Jon Motsinger received the Bronze Smokey Bear Award for creating a unique and innovative campaign with geocoins to celebrate Smokey Bear’s 70th Birthday while helping spread his wildfire prevention message. As an avid geocacher, Jon developed trackable geocoins that were symbolic of Smokey’s Birthday and wildfire prevention. Through these coins, Jon extended the reach of wildfire prevention campaign messaging to an entirely new audience and empowered geocachers to circulate the coins and educate others with Smokey’s fire prevention message.
- Jon developed 70 trackable geocoins symbolizing Smokey’s 70th birthday and his wildfire prevention message.
- Geocachers could find the coins, travel with them, spread Smokey’s message, educate others, and then drop it off in a new location for the next geocacher to find.
- While the geocacher carried the coins with them, the coins served as a reminder to be safe with fire.
- Jon’s geocaching program reached a new audience of people who were already out in nature and increased awareness on how they could help prevent wildfires.
- Since releasing the trackable geocoins, they have traveled to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 17 different countries, and 5 continents, for a total of 329,000 miles-enough to circle the Earth 13.2 times.
- Smokey’s wildfire prevention message was spread to other geocachers at various “Meet and Greet” geocaching events around the United States.
Jon used his creativity to develop a wildfire prevention program that utilized new mediums and channels, and spread Smokey’s wildfire prevention to a new audience of geocachers, while also celebrating Smokey’s 70th birthday.
How You Can Do The Same:
Create new promotional materials in efficient and inventive ways that people can easily use.
- BOB BLASI - 2016
- Project Synopsis:
Bob Blasi received the Bronze Smokey Bear Award for his tremendous effort to prevent wildfires through countless in-person educational programs at town meetings and camper trainings. Bob built a local network, tracked trends in the community, and conducted early morning patrols to put out campfires left smoldering overnight. His projects are replicable by others through the United States.
- Bob attended Town Council meetings to share fire prevention messaging and to gather support for his goal of zero human caused wildfires in Tusayan.
- He built partnerships with the local fire department to help find, document, and extinguish abandoned campfires on National Forest land.
- Bob developed a network of local residents and permit holders committed to wildfire prevention and enlisted them to help report and extinguish abandoned campfires.
- He spent time at the local schools near the Grand Canyon National Park to share the message with K-12 students.
- Bob and his partners focused on educating and training campers to understand that it is illegal to leave campfires unattended and is a direct cause of many wildfires.
- He utilized traditional wildfire prevention techniques, such as thinning and prescribed burns, to supplement his new tactics with the surrounding community.
Bob successfully reduced human-caused wildfires to zero for over two years running from November 2013 to December 2015. The last time that the Tusayan Ranger District had zero human-caused fires for one calendar year was in 1965.
Bob worked with the community to take proactive steps to stop campers from abandoning campfires by educating them on how their actions can directly cause wildfires.
How You Can Do The Same:
- Be research-based and investigate key causes of wildfires that are specific to your area.
- Work with members of your community to implement your wildfire prevention strategies
- CALOOSAHATCHEE FORESTRY CENTER - 2016
- Project Synopsis:
The Caloosahatchee Forestry Center received a Bronze Smokey Bear Award due to their strong and long-lasting partnership with the local baseball team the Miracles and their community engagement. The organization was very proactive in developing this partnership and engaging with the public through multiple avenues.
- The forestry center distributed wildfire prevention and mitigation-related magnets with Smokey Bear included in the design during Fort Meyers Miracles games during record-setting seasons for attendance.
- They built a float of Smokey’s cabin to be used in the Junior and Grande Parade in Southwest Florida to teach children the importance of wildfire prevention and to remind their parents how to properly handle fire.
- Between 2002 and 2015, there has been a significant reduction in wildfires in the district during every record-setting season for attendance with the Fort Myers Miracle.
- The number of fire prevention program requests has increased by 10% in one year, which correlates with a time where there was significant public exposure to wildfire prevention messaging.
The forestry center fostered long-lasting partnerships with local organizations that have a significant impact on the surrounding community.
How You Can Do The Same:
- Work with local organizations to develop mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships to spread wildfire prevention messaging.
- Work to educate younger children on the importance of wildfire prevention so they can someday help prevent wildfires themselves; those educational opportunities can also serve as a reminder to parents.
- CONASAUGA RANGER DISTRICT - 2016
- Project Synopsis:
The Conasauga Ranger District received the Bronze Smokey Bear Award for their enhanced effort to reduce unwanted ignitions in a very populated area of Georgia. To do this, the rangers used several methods of outreach and partnerships to spread wildfire prevention messaging to the surrounding community.
- The district took advantage of the opening weekend of the Disney Movie “Planes: Fire & Rescue” to promote wildfire prevention messaging in local movie theaters.
- They developed a working relationship with the local Home Depot and Cabela’s to participate and enhance their Kids Fire Prevention Workshops while offering opportunities for adults to learn about resource management and how mismanagement can lead to an increase of human caused wildfires.
- As a part of their wildfire prevention campaign, the district installed a large fire danger rating sign at the entrance to their office as well as many roadside signs, allowing for thousands of Georgia residents to see it each day.
- During the past two years, over 12,500 people have participated in wildfire prevention activities organized through the Conasauga Ranger District and its partners.
- While the district has experienced a longer than average dry period, the actual number of human caused wildfires on all lands (national, state, and local) located in the district decreased.
- The district worked with local organizations and businesses to extend their outreach efforts regarding wildfire prevention efforts.
- They leveraged large-scale events to reach wide, diverse audiences.
- Many of the district employees worked outside the scope of their jobs and collaborated in wildfire prevention efforts as a team.
How You Can Do The Same:
Work with corporations in your community to find natural connections between their business objectives and spreading the wildfire prevention message.
- STEVE DEFFIBAUGH - 2015
- ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF, PRINCETON FIRE DEPARTMENT
Steve Deffibaugh was selected to receive the bronze Smokey Bear award based on his passion for promoting Smokey Bear’s wildfire prevention message and his ability to appeal to children of all ages. Steve has demonstrated that he knows the value of proactive outreach regarding wildfire prevention by reviewing fire loss data along with fire reports to determine which communities were at higher risk from human-caused fires in north central Texas. His wealth of knowledge about the different types of causes and locations of human- caused wildfires enabled him to deliver crafted programs based on the specific human cause factors. A driving reason for his passion for promoting Smokey’s message was to help carry on the legacy of his GreatUncle, Homer C. Pickens, who was an officer with the New Mexico Game & Fish Department and helped care for the bear cub that became the original Smokey Bear. Steve brought a personal side to Smokey Bear and helped audiences understand that Smokey Bear was an actual bear. This is extremely important when sharing Smokey’s message with children because it provides them with a real connection to the negative outcomes of human-caused wildfires on wildlife, homes and people. Steve has proved his passion for proactive wildfire education outreach programs by going above and beyond his job responsibilities as an Assistant Fire Chief. Steve works actively with firefighters and goes out of his way to assist volunteer rural fire departments by supplying them with resources and sharing advice to support their wildfire prevention programs.
- Reviewed fire loss data along with fire reports to determine which communities are at higher risk from human-caused fires in north central Texas.
- Served as the planner for several high profile events, such as the joint Texas Forest Service (TFS) and US Forest Service Cooperative Prevention program centered around the 24th Annual Lions Club Balloon Festival.
- Delivered the first-ever appearance of a Smokey Bear hot air balloon and hosted a prevention booth in Texas that was announced in a statewide news release.
- Was responsible for planning a Planes 2 event in Wylie & Greenville in North Texas in which he was able to secure the Wylie and Greenville (TX) Fire Departments for assistance with the help of his contacts in North Texas. Both fire departments provided a structural and wildland engine and wildland fire crews all day to support the TFS Display and the Smokey Bear appearances at a Planes 2 event. Steve got Planes 2 coloring pages donated by a local vendor to give to the children who stopped by the Smokey Bear display.
- Worked diligently in his community to have a City Proclamation for Smokey Bear’s birthday and hosted a birthday party at the Princeton City Hall in August 2014. He worked with Collin County and Tarrant County Court of Commissions to proclaim August 9th as Smokey Bear Day.
- Assisted TFS with numerous birthday parties for Smokey Bear and appearances at fire department open houses. These included Wylie Fire Department, Lucas Fire Department, Cedar Hill Fire Department, Coppell Fire Department and the Benbrook Fire Department. In total, these open house programs reach 1,320 citizens of all ages.
- Comparing wildfire ignition starts within the six at-risk communities in north central Texas during 2007-2010 to 2011-2014 when the program was in place, human-caused wildfire causes decreased by 12 percent (from 97 percent to 85 percent).
- Led the contracting, and handled the planning and details for 39 Smokey Bear prevention programs which have impacted over 23,000 people, including both children and adults.
- Worked with Collin County and Tarrant County Court of Commissions to proclaim August 9th as Smokey Bear Day and created media interest from two major networks. His efforts provided an opportunity to celebrate Smokey’s 70th birthday and emphasized to television viewers that the number one cause of wildfires in Tarrant County is human carelessness.
- Brought a personal side to Smokey Bear which helped audiences understand that Smokey was an actual bear. This understanding provided younger audiences with a connection to the negative outcomes of human-caused wildfires on wildlife, homes, and people.
- Used “Clowning” as a method to attract new audiences, where he also could work as “Deffi” the wildland fire clown. Deffi was present at the Texas A&M Forest Service Smokey Bear Birthday Bash in College Station and had a long line of children at his tent.
How You Can Do The Same:
Find fun and exciting ways to spread Smokey’s message to children of all ages through games and activities
- CHELSEA EALUM (NÉE PARKER) - 2014
- PUBLIC RELATIONS COORDINATOR, FLORIDA FOREST SERVICE
Chelsea Ealum received this award for her creativity in creating materials in a format that had never been used before. She utilized new and distinct channels to spread wildfire prevention education programs. From social media, to can coolers, to press releases, Chelsea used her forward thinking and creativity to broaden the scope of the wildfire prevention message through both local and statewide avenues. Chelsea did research on fire cause statistics and formulated a plan to address the major wildfire causes in her area that included eye-catching flyers, handouts and banners.
- Outdoor burning setback requirement “credit cards,” printed on plastic cards to be more resilient in the pockets and wallets of those conducting burns outdoors. Her original credit card graphic is now used on the statewide brochure, “Know the Law Before You Strike the Match.”
- Wildfire prevention and mitigation-related pop-up banner designs, including “Know the Law,” displaying the same burning setbacks as the “Outdoor Burning Setback Credit Card.”
- Arson prevention cards originally created to address an increase in the occurrence of arson-caused wildfires in hunting areas. She distributed them in areas where hunters frequent, and they are still being used throughout Florida.
- Created the slogan, “Support your wildland firefighter…Prevent Wildfires,” that helped audiences take ownership of the safety and protection of their local firefighters. This slogan and design was printed on can coolers and given out at the Florida State Fair in Tampa.
- Created eye-catching social media graphics such as “New Year’s Resolutions for the Forest Lover in You.”
- Was responsible for the coordination and direction of the Florida Forest Service’s statewide fire prevention program.
- Developed new educational materials and a biannual course that helped teach wildland firefighters to research and create wildfire prevention communication plans for their area’s needs that go beyond children’s programs and Smokey Bear, as well as the basics of the Fire Prevention Triangle.
- For every dollar spent on fire prevention in Florida, $35 in suppression costs are saved.
Used her creativity to design, create and implement innovative ideas such as her prevention credit cards and can coolers that gained statewide favor and implementation through federal grant funding.
How You Can Do The Same:
Be creative and think of social media strategies that have never been implemented before to spread wildfire prevention messages. Create new promotional materials in efficient and inventive ways that people can easily use.
- RON HODGSON AND MARK THIBIDEAU - 2014
- RON HODGSON, REGION 5 FIRE PREVENTION COORDINATOR
MARK THIBIDEAU, FIRE PREVENTION TECH, SHASTA TRINITY NATIONAL FOREST
These candidates created the “One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire” campaign to help raise public awareness and reduce the high number of wildfires occurring along highways in their patrol area and across the forest. The human-caused fires in the Shasta Lake area and on Interstate 5 occurred in wildland urban interface (WUI) areas. Statistics showed that many human-caused fires were vehicle-related or occurred near roadways.
Mark Thibideau looked for a fresh approach to engage the public in wildfire prevention and, together with Ron Hodgson, developed an effective approach to reach targeted audiences with fire prevention messages that focused on vehicles and roadways, as well as specific users of outdoor equipment, such as chainsaws and mowers.
- Received a microgrant from the Pacific Southwest Region’s fire prevention program to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest to create the campaign.
- Partnered with USDA Forest Service Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service, California Department of Transportation, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and many more.
- Coordinated the statewide campaign in 2013 through the California Wildfire Coordinate Group Prevention Team.
- Met with Fire Safe councils, businesses and agency personnel to teach them how to adapt and use “One Less Spark” in their local area.
- Partnered with other organizations, such as civic groups and utility companies, to share the message during fire season.
- Created interpretive signs and chain guards made of discarded fire hoses that were embossed with “One Less Spark.”
- Reached forest visitors in campgrounds, rest areas, OHV staging areas, boat ramps, local sporting goods stores and vehicle-related businesses.
- Gave suggested templates of “One Less Spark” news releases and digital versions of all campaign graphics, such as logos, brochures and posters, to all Prevention and Public Affairs staffs in the 18 national forests in the Pacific Southwest region.
- Created 10 short “One Less Spark” PSAs with comedienne Betty White.
- Utilized their Twitter accounts to distribute the links to their followers and aggregated “One Less Spark” messages with the hashtag #OneLessSpark.
- Displayed “One Less Spark” messages on overhead freeway signs during times of high fire danger.
- The campaign grew exponentially in its second year into a larger, more far-reaching program.
- Spread the wildfire prevention message to over 6,900 Twitter users.
- The simple message included specific actions the public could take to prevent different types of vehicle-related fires.
- Adaptable campaign that was suitable for implementation on forests with different ratios of human-caused fires.
How You Can Do The Same:
Share the “One Less Spark” message or create your own adaptable message about the numerous types of human-caused wildfires in your area that can be plugged in under one general theme. Partner with local and federal organizations to spread the message using innovative and targeted resources.
- WARDENS HELPING IN PREVENTION - 2013
Since 1988, the completely volunteer-based Wardens Helping In Prevention (WHIP) program has distributed a WHIP manual to Forest Fire Wardens throughout Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland. The manual includes information on basic leadership skills, teaching techniques, lesson plans, public service announcements, and Smokey Bear games and coloring sheets. The information imparted by the manuals allows wardens to effectively inform their communities about wildfire prevention at schools, malls, fairs and other community events.
Upon completing a wildfire prevention program, the WHIPs log information into their PREVACT database, which then allows them to see which areas have not yet been targeted by WHIP-run events. Through these efforts, as well as maintaining relationships with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and other local institutions, the WHIPs have helped reduced the impact of wildfires in Pennsylvania.
- Over 41,000 volunteer days logged and almost 15 million people reached since the WHIP program started.
- Average acres burned per year in Pennsylvania has reduced from 10,000 to 6,500.
- Developed and distributed a manual for new wardens to learn and educate others about wildfires.
- Used an electronic database to survey the reach of their work.
- Developed relationships with government agencies.
- Aired public service announcements via radio.
- Maintained billboards and wildfire danger rating signs.
- Involvement: The WHIP manual allows for anyone with interest to get involved and help the effort against preventable wildfires. The entire WHIP program is run by volunteers.
- Partnerships: Uses relationships with state agencies, school districts and fire departments to have a presence at as many events as possible.
- Technology: Uses a database to track all completed events, and then targets areas that require more prevention work.
- GLENN LIEPE - 2013
- NEW JERSEY STATE FOREST SERVICE
Glenn Liepe researched, developed and marketed a K-9 prevention “Tracks” program. Starting in 2004, Glen lobbied for a pilot Wildland Fire Investigation and Prevention initiative that would utilize a bloodhound. He volunteered to house and care for the dog at his own expense, participated in several months of specialized K-9 training, and developed a template for the “Tracks” Program.
“Tracks” provided an innovative way to reduce human-caused wildfires in the Pine Barrens region of New Jersey. Glen made it a point to deliver programs to every school in Hamilton Township, reaching more than 2,900 students in that township. Since 2004, “Tracks” has participated in over 750 programs across the state, with over 10,000 fire prevention contacts. The program also implemented 24-hour law enforcement responsibilities, including responding to wildfires and delivering wildfire prevention programs.
- K-9 team took part in 49 educational programs, reaching more than 2,900 students in Hamilton Township alone.
- “Tracks” has participated in over 750 programs across the state, making over 10,000 wildfire prevention contacts.
- Has led to training other police canine departments to track wildfires.
- Implemented a wildfire prevention and investigation program with the use of tracking dogs.
- Targeted areas with highest numbers of human-caused wildfires.
- Innovation: “Tracks” was the first program to use dogs to track the origins of wildfires.
- Dedication: Personally cared for and trained the program’s first bloodhound.
- ERIC L. MOSLEY - 2013
- GEORGIA FORESTRY COMMISSION
Eric Mosley’s leadership efforts engaged multiagency partners, including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many volunteer fire departments to develop and use wildfire prevention education teams in Florida and Georgia. Under Mosley’s leadership, various 2- to 3-person task force teams blanketed the area with wildfire education and prevention information. The teams identified, assessed and mapped hundreds of homes and businesses in high-risk areas, and provided each contact with wildfire prevention information.
Furthermore, Mosley reached out to the Florida Forest Service and subsequently partnered with them and led teams to create notebooks consisting of GPS map locations of at-risk properties, as well as assessment information about each individual home or business. These notebooks were duplicated and provided to local fire departments with instructions for wildfire prevention, suppression and evacuation needs. The Fire Prevention and Education Teams also made a point to saturate schools in their areas with programs and materials. With Eric spearheading the efforts, local prevention programs and messages were unified, allowing one consistent message to be heard by the public.
- Efforts have resulted in reduced costs, effective prevention and education team involvement in affected communities, and increased professional interaction with local fire departments.
- Reached hundreds of home and property owners with information, materials and assessments.
- Distributed materials to every fire department within a multistate, four-county area.
- Contacted every elementary school within a seven-county multistate area.
- Created location-specific wildfire prevention materials based on high-risk local areas.
- Worked closely with local fire departments, many of which were volunteer-based.
- Reached out to a neighboring Forest Service division and partnered with them.
- Leadership: Recognized the potential for danger and spearheaded preventative efforts, working as a catalyst to create Fire Prevention and Education Teams, and to provide one message from multiple agencies.
- Partnerships: Took it upon himself to bring the Georgia and Florida forest services together to work against dangers that posed threats to both of their states. Also actively involved every local volunteer fire department.
- TEXAS A&M FOREST SERVICE EAST TEXAS OPERATIONS - 2013
- Project Synopsis:
In 2010, the East Texas Operations team of the Texas A&M Forest Service created innovative approaches to educate their local population about wildfire prevention, including a program based on the popular “Are You Smarter Than A 5TH Grader?” game show, in which participants were quizzed on information that the team had previously provided them.
In addition, the East Texas Operations team held a “Show and Tell” program that introduced children to firefighters’ personal protective equipment, giving the children a hands-on opportunity to learn.
The program also partnered with the Texas State Fire Museum and their Fire Safety Summer Camp. They visited campers and, on Family Safety Day, used a passport system where children would collect stamps at different informative stations in an effort to get children more involved in wildfire safety. The team worked cooperatively with school districts and volunteer fire departments to leverage knowledge, skills and resources. As a result, the number of preventable human-caused wildfires was reduced in their 54-county area. These effective wildfire prevention programs and products are being replicated for use throughout Texas.
- Reduced preventable wildfires in their district.
- Delivered 77 school programs, reaching more than 13,000 elementary school children.
- Delivered 237 community-based programs, reaching over 105,000 people of all ages.
- Encouraged children to get involved through fun, participatory events.
- Leveraged large-scale events to reach wide, diverse audiences.
- Distributed proactive fire prevention materials to children.
- Creativity: Developed various fun activities to involve their audiences in fresh, exciting ways.
- Reach: Used relationships with local school districts and volunteer fire departments to organize their own local events, and leveraged large-scale events to expand their audience.
- ROBIN D. NELSON - 2013
- BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, HIGH PLAINS DISTRICT OFFICE
Robin D. Nelson, geographic information specialist in Casper, Wyoming, has spent many years volunteering her time to educate children in the Casper area about wildfire prevention and protection of homes and property against wildfire.
She was able to make children comfortable around Smokey, even when they cowered away from him at the start of presentations. As a result, the children were enthusiastic about wildfire education and engaged with the video and interactive activities that Nelson used in her program.
Eventually, she built such strong partnerships between the Bureau of Land Management and local schools that the Smokey Program no longer had to reach out, but would be contacted before the school year even started and asked to visit. In 2010, the Casper Field Office won the 2010 Outstanding Indoor Exhibit from the Game and Fish Department for Nelson’s and Smokey’s participation. Nelson partnered with numerous companies and organizations to spread the wildfire prevention and Smokey’s message.
- Educated over 20,000 children.
- Established relationships with schools and media in her area.
- Gave classrooms a “Smokey bag” filled with educational activities that the class can take part in without the presence of a wildfire expert.
- Worked with Public Affairs to coordinate local media coverage of special events and school visits.
Partnerships: Fostered relationships with local schools and media outlets to ensure Smokey’s message consistently reached a wide audience.
- PAUL M. REIER - 2013
- VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY
Paul Reier, forest technician with the Virginia Department of Forestry and volunteer with his local fire and rescue squad, received a Bronze Smokey Bear award for his many hours (on and off the job) working to ensure Smokey is at numerous fairs, special events (including an Easter Egg hunt at the Virginia State Capitol), baseball games and schools.
He partners with everyone from nursing homes to the local county fire and rescue organizations and county fire departments. Paul found new ways to get Smokey Bear involved in community events, including the Ladies Professional Golf Association. He also developed cross-generational wildfire prevention message delivery, where elderly populations provide information to grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Also, Paul helped test a cooling vest, which allows for a longer period of time spent in the Smokey suit and thus, longer exposure at events.
- Reaches hundreds of students per year.
- Interacts with a variety of different groups, organizations and agencies.
- Brings Smokey to an array of events, including fire department open houses, county fairs, festivals, carnivals, minor league baseball games, and nursing homes/assisted living facilities, where Smokey brings the patrons fond memories and often has a chance to educate their visitors.
- Made technological advancements to the Smokey suit.
Partnerships: Adept at leveraging all contacts to set up a potential Smokey wildfire prevention program, and continues to make new contacts in an effort to expand the scope of Smokey Bear.
- MELISSA YUNAS - 2012
- WILDFIRE MITIGATION SPECIALIST
Yunas greatly improved awareness of fire-safety tactics in her six-county area, addressing public outreach as well as relationships between fire-safety professionals. To counteract the problem of high turnover rates for rangers and the need to constantly train new people, she developed a wildfire-prevention manual for each of the six counties in her district to help new rangers with wildfire prevention programming and other job responsibilities.
The manual, distributed to every ranger in the district, includes local information for each county, such as contact lists for schools and libraries, area fire causes, resident demographics, and local events that rangers should consider attending. Through outreach, she concluded that rangers were enthusiastic to help with wildfire prevention projects, but had not been approached and were thus unsure of what to do. She designed training in specific prevention areas for the rangers, so that they could assist in prevention programs, as well as Firewise and fire mitigation programs.
After implementing her training programs, rangers’ participation rates increased dramatically, and they played a larger role in their communities. For example, despite years of absence from county fairs, the rangers returned, showing the public a unified front in combating human-caused wildfires. Additionally, she conceived a separate festival, the “Fire Fest,” to deal directly with the issue of wildfire awareness. Partnering with a local state park, she created an entertaining event that educated attendees about wildfire prevention and suppression. The Fire Fest has now become an annual tradition with many local partners. Among her other projects have been the planning of a birthday party for Smokey Bear, and her outreach to local Native American tribes to develop fire prevention and Firewise programming.
- Annual Fire Fest brings in 400–500 attendees every year, and has spread to two different counties.
- Outreach has doubled the size of ranger wildfire prevention programming.
She successfully leveraged media contacts to create support for the annual Fire Fest, and also promoted this event and others, such as Smokey Bear’s birthday parties, by creating flyers.
- Fostering competition: Developed point system to rate wildfire prevention programs of rangers, allowing for friendly competition between teams to produce best programming.
- Facilitating outreach: Produced a ranger toolkit which included county information, such as the dates and times of local public events.
- Forging relationships: Concluded that rangers were enthusiastic to assist wildfire prevention programming, but were unsure how, then figured out how to help them.