Smokey Bear

Distance Learning Module

This module will combine information about fire prevention along with Smokey Bear's role in spreading awareness of human contributions to wildfires. Then we'll look at the work of fire prevention specialists before examining the weather's effect on fire specifically. Finally, we'll be exploring some of the benefits of fire, particularly prescribed fire, and the researchers studying these effects. 

Below you will find links to videos, experiments, and articles on all things freshwater. If you would like to complete the entire module - it will take about a month. If you are looking for a more focused lesson the module includes four main units: Smokey Bear and Public Awareness Campaigns, Fire Prevention Specialists, How Weather and Climate Affect Wildland Fire, and Prescribed Fire. Follow the links below for activities and more within each section.

 

Introduction to Smokey Bear:

  • To begin our module, check out this video from FSNatureLIVE about Smokey Bear, his history, and his fire prevention campaign. 
  • Brainstorm a list of questions you have while watching this video. What more would you like to know about Smokey Bear, fire prevention, and fire?

 

Smokey Bear and Public Awareness Campaigns:

This sub-unit includes activities that should take about 2 days to complete. 

 

Part one (1.5 to 2 hours):

Let's rewind the clock a bit to look at how the U.S. Forest Service and the public in general used to view wildland fires and how that view influenced their approach to fighting these fires. Then we will examine when that approach began to change. 

  • Read "Fight or Light?" from Wildland Fire 2 NI about the history and impact of big fires out west in 1910 (pgs. 7-10)
  • Answer reflection section questions and check your answers here 
  • Compare and contrast with the fires of 1910 and complete this FACTivity from "Flight or Light?" and research and report on the impacts of a recent natural disturbance

Part two (1 to 1.5 hours):

Around the time the Forest Service began to change its approach to managing wildland fires, Smokey Bear is created. And then the real bear is found! Learn about the bear who became a live mascot, including his rescue bt the Taos Snowballs, a firefighting team. Then learn about scientists measuring the effectiveness of public awareness campaigns like Smokey Bear's. 

  • Watch "History of Smokey Bear" from Smokey Bear LIVE
  • Watch "Smokey Bear Lives at National Zoo and Returns to New Mexico" from Smokey Bear LIVE
  • Read "A Burning Question" an NI monograph about how effective Smokey Bear's campaign is (pgs. 7-26)
  • Answer reflection section question as you read 
  • Choose an important environmental issue you care about, like recycling, conserving water, fuel conservation, etc. 
  • Design a mascot to promote your desired behaviors. Create a poster, commercial, social media post, or other kinds of media to introduce this mascot and your message. You may want to use Smokey Bear's of Woodsy Owl's various posters, commercials, and appearances as inspiration!

Fire Prevention Specialist:

This subunit includes activities that should take about 4 days to complete.

Part one (1 to 1.5 hours): 

Now let's take a look at the jobs of the men and women who work as a fire prevention specialist. What do they do and what tools do they need? What are their aims? How do they stay safe on the job? And, finally, how can they most effectively do their work? 

Part two (1 hour):

  • Read "Let's Clear the Air" from Wildland Fire NI about measuring the danger smoke poses to firefighters (pgs. 7-11) 
  • Answer reflection section questions as you read 
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Let's Clear the Air" and determine how consistently you can measure the amount of smoke in a wildland fire and chart your results

Part three (1 hour):

  • Read "Trust is a Must" from Wildland Fire 2 NI about how much trust people put into forest managers to help prevent fires (pgs. 43-46)
  • Answer reflection section questions as you read and review your answers here
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Trust is a Must" and conduct your own survey on how much adults trust forest managers

Part four (1.5 to 2 hours):

  • Read "Keeping it Local" from Wildland Fire 2 NI about communities that made the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) part of their Community Wildfire Protection Plan (pgs. 26-31)
  • Answer reflection section questions as you read and review your answers here
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Keeping it Local" by creating an action plan to help solve a problem or challenge at your school or in your community

How Weather and Climate Change Affect Wildland Fire:

This subunit should take about two days to complete. 

Part one (1 to 1.5 hours):

An important part of a fire prevention specialist's job is to gather data about weather conditions and climate to help prevent and fight wildfires. Let's look at how weather and climate can affect wildland fires. 

Part two (1 to 1.5 hours):

  • Read "Where There's Smoke, There's Fire" an NI monograph about if and how climate and weather are connected to very large wildland fires 
  • Answer the reflection section questions as you read and review your answers here 
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Where There's Smoke, There's Fire by discovering patterns that show a relationship between the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and very large wildland fires in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (pgs. 29-34)

Prescribed Fire:

This subunit includes activities that should take about 4 days to complete. 

Part one (1 hour): 

Now let's transition from preventing and fighting fires to examining the effects of wildland fires, and prescribed fires in particular. How do these fires affect plants and animals living in areas prone to fire? Are there some benefits to fire?

  • Read "Time Will Tell" from our Wildland Fire NI monograph about what effects fire has on prairies and how long it may take for prairies to recover after a fire (pgs. 21-25)
  • Answer the reflection section questions as you read 
  • Complete the FACTivity from from "Time Will Tell" by comparing and contrasting the resiliency of things in your classroom, yard, or community

Part two (1-1.5 hours):

  • Read "Who Gives a Hoot" from our Wildland Fire NI about whether taxpayers would agree to spend money on prescribed fires to protect an endangered owl's habitat (pg.s 27-32)
  • Answer reflection section questions as you read 
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Who Gives a Hoot" by examining how we value favorite possessions and whether those values vary among people 

Part three (1-1.5 hours):

  • Read "Fighting Fire with Fire" from our Wildland Fire NI about how prescribed fires affect the California gnatcatcher, a small bird, and its habitat (pgs. 15-19)
  • Answer the reflection section questions as you read
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Fighting Fire with Fire" by debating what should be done when protecting the habitat of a threatened bird is in conflict with protecting the safety of people's homes

Part four (1-1.5 hours): 

  • Read "Pecking Order" from our Wildland Fire 2 NI about what kind of post-fire habitats black-backed woodpeckers like best (pgs. 34-39)
  • Answer the reflection section questions as you read and review your answers here 
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Pecking Order" about a creative writing assignment as a black-back woodpecker using the information you have researched about the woodpecker

Conclusion:

This subunit includes activities that should take about a week to complete. 

Part one (1.5-2 hours): 

  • Read "Can We Grow Now?" from our Wildland Fire 2 NI about the best conditions for bristlecone pine trees seeds to take root and grow, especially their connection to fire (pgs. 50-55)
  • Read the reflection section questions as you read and review your answers here
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Can We Grow Now?" by observing and experimenting to discover ways seeds disperse through their environments 

Part two (1-1.5 hours):

  • Read "Don't Judge a Soil by its Color" from our Wildland Fire 2 NI about how soils change after a fire and what kinds of organisms prefer to live in those soils (pgs. 68-72)
  • Answer the reflection section questions as you read and review your answers here 
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Don't Judge a Soil by its Color" which includes a "Soildoku" puzzle to explore 

Part three (3 hours):

  • Read "Snake, Rattle, and Roll" from our Wildland Fire 2 NI about how restoration efforts along the Rio Grande (undertaken to help prevent wildfires) affect native snake populations (pgs. 59-64)
  • Answer the reflection section question as you read and review your answers here 
  • Complete the FACTivity from "Snake, Rattle, and Roll" by constructing pitfall traps and drift fences to collect insect samples and catalog the species in your yard or neighborhood

Part four (1-2 hours):

  • Read "aPods Rule!" in Wildland Fire 2 NI about what happens to anthropods following a fire (pgs. 15-21)
  • Answer the reflection section questions as you read and review your answers here
  • Complete the FACTivity from "aPods Rule!" by creating your own arthropod after learning about the characteristics of arthropods

Finale: 

To conclude our study of fire prevention and fire benefits, let's take a look at some question and answer sessions from Smokey Bear LIVE: A Distance Learning Adventure. Did any of the questions you came up with at the beginning of the unit get answered? Did any new questions arise? Where can we find out more?


Additional Resources: