USA — Forest Service personnel teach methods of fire prevention to thousands of children in Tulare County every year. During the winter months, when fire danger is low, employees on the Western Divide Ranger District form teams to present fire prevention programs to local preschoolers and first-graders.
In January and February, over 1,000 preschool-aged children learned about Smokey Bear and his battle to prevent wildfires. Children were taught what to do if they saw a fire, found matches, or their clothes caught on fire. Each class enjoyed a personal visit from Smokey Bear and his helpers from the U.S. Forest Service.
By the end of April, an additional 2,000 first graders in 25 schools throughout Tulare County will hear the same message many already learned in preschool, how to prevent wildfires. In first grade these messages are taught to the students individually, and as a class through a slide program. The highlight of the 30-minute presentation is a visit from Smokey Bear, an opportunity for the children to tell Smokey what they learned.
The overall theme is a story of Smokey Bear and his battle to prevent wildfires, but he needs all of his new friends to help him. Each class receives material to take home to their parents about fire safety. These programs are successful at teaching children about fire prevention, and are a lot of fun.
Many of the children remember this program as they get older. I often encounter fourth and fifth graders at community events who say to me, I remember you, youre Smokeys helper said Brenda Diaz, Fire Prevention Technician on the Western Divide Ranger District. The Sequoia National Forest appreciates the volunteers, teachers, and parents who help us deliver these messages and keep our children safe from the danger of fire.