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Forest Service Brings People Together for National Public Lands Day

Organizing the largest single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands in the country, National Public Lands Day, is no easy feat for the U.S. Forest Service. That’s 40 days of volunteer projects, BioBlitzes, fishing derbies, and educational events, all of which are registered with the National Environmental Education Foundation, the organization that started National Public Lands Day 23 years ago.

U.S. Forest Service Supports 2015 World Special Olympics

A small but enthusiastic group of volunteers joined a famous bear and well-known owl to support an international competition attended by more than 100,000 people from all over the world. The U.S. Forest Service was a proud partner of the 2015 World Special Olympics in Los Angeles recently.

Employees of the Angeles National Forest/San Gabriel Mountains National Monument were joined by employees and volunteers from national forests all over California to staff an informational booth on the University of Southern California campus, July 23 – Aug. 2. The booth helped inform athletes and spectators about the accessibility of national forests and monuments, while helping spread the message of wildfire prevention.

Student Climate and Conservation Congress: Bright Young Minds

This year, for the first time, the Forest Service partnered with the Green School Alliance and their principle partner the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in support of the Student Climate and Conservation Congress (Sc3).  Held June 21-27 on the beautiful campus of the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Sc3 brought together more than 100 creative, innovative and dedicated high school students from across the country.  While there were adults present if needed, Sc3 was a youth driven congress.  Their big quest “To change everything, we need everybody.  How will you engage others in developing a brighter and more just global community?”

For the Forest Service the Sc3 was a great opportunity to look through the eyes of youth as they prepare for their generation’s leadership role in addressing the challenges of a changing climate.  As shared by Dr. Douglas Boyce, Acting Climate Change Advisor, “I was particularly impressed with the students’ depth of knowledge and grasp of issues surrounding climate change.  Dealing daily with the problems associated with climate change, I found hope for the future because I learned these students are engaged, passionate, and poised to help society tackle and solve the mounting number of significant and challenging climate change issues.”

And the Winner of the Smokey Bear Poster Contest is...

For 54 years, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Garden Clubs Inc., have worked together to sponsor the National Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl poster contest that reaches elementary children throughout the U.S.

This year’s grand prize winner is Audrey Morga, an 11-year old, and a fifth grader at St. Bernardine of Siena School in Woodland Hills, California.

“When I found out that I won, I had to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming,” said Morga.

Letters to Smokey Bear Reveal Promise of Hope for the Future

Smokey Bear, the iconic symbol of wildfire prevention for 70 years, is for many people a comforting symbol of a promise that everything will be okay. As long as we all work together, as one of Smokey’s young pen pals wrote recently.

“Dear Smokey: I would like to be a Junior Forest Ranger and help the big rangers. I promise to look after the forest and watch out for baddies making fires and damaging trees. Love Adam”

The letters come one-by-one or in neatly piled stacks, with carefully drawn portraits and hastily scrawled letters. They want to know if Smokey Bear is okay. They ask if he can write to them. They show compassion, knowing Smokey’s mother did not make it out of the fire.

Memphis Girl Wins National Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl Poster Contest

Joyce Qin has some pretty proud grandparents. They made their first trip from China to Washington, D.C., to watch U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell honor the 11-year-old Memphis-area student as the national winner of the 2014 Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl Poster Contest.

“Joyce competed against 30,000 contestants. This is quite an accomplishment,” Tidwell said as Qin’s grandparents, parents, brother and a host of Forest Service employees looked on. “We use this contest as a tool to convey our messages about preventing wildfires and caring for the land. Through artistry, we have another way to connect people to the importance of water, air and wildlife.”

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

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.

U.S. Forest Service Makes Learning about Invasive Species Easy for Kids

Our forests are under attack. And the U.S. Forest Service is hoping that the Nation’s fourth and fifth graders can help fight back.

The Forest Service distributed Insects Invade, a teacher’s package to 25,000 teachers nationwide.  The teacher’s package includes 30 copies of a 12-page full color magazine called Insects Invade, a teacher’s page that has two lesson plans, as well as a comment card for feedback. The magazine was developed in conjunction with Scholastic Inc., a company that has delivered books, magazines and educational materials to schools and families for 90 years.

The Insects Invade educational product resulted as an idea to build awareness among fourth and fifth graders elementary school children about invasive insects.

USDA Publications Shine on Government Bookstore Bestseller List

The U.S. Government Bookstore, the place where you can buy the 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar for $20 or a loose-leaf copy of the Export Administration Regulation 2013 edition for $199, released its list of best-selling publications for 2013 that includes several items published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Why Would Anyone Cut A Tree Down?” is written by Roberta Burzynski, who works in the U.S. Forest Service’s Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry unit. The book shows children the life cycle of trees and how trees are a renewable resource. The 41-page book with 28 full-color illustrations can be used by parents and teachers along with online activities and lessons. Colorfully illustrated by Juliette Watts, the $10 book is ideal for parents, teachers and children. Burzynski also wrote the popular “Woodsy Owl’s ABCs” that is meant to be read by an adult to children.

It's Someone's Birthday! Whooo?

Whether you give a hoot and don’t pollute or go out and lend a hand to care for the land, thank Woodsy Owl, the iconic symbol of conservation of the U.S. Forest Service.

After all, Woodsy Owl celebrates his 42nd birthday on Sept. 15 and has outlasted most environmental symbols from the 1970s and even expanded his repertoire to include such things as helping preschoolers learn their ABCs via conservation messages.