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 Help Smokey celebrate his 80th birthday by learning how to prevent wildfires and help the environment. Read books, take action, and have fun!  

The reading challenge will run from May 1 to May 31, and there are two ways to join. Pick up a Smokey’s Reading Challenge activity log for all ages at one of our 30 branch libraries or the Bookmobile. Or you can sign up and participate online through the Beanstack app. Participants will have a chance to win a Smokey Bear fanny pack.

Smokey Bear made his first appearance on a forest fire prevention campaign poster for the U.S. Forest Service in 1944. Smokey’s ongoing efforts to educate the public about the dangers of human-caused wildfires is the longest running public service announcement campaign in U.S. history.

We have compiled a list of recommended reading for the challenge.

An Interview with Smokey

Describe your job:

I’m a people bear! I love to connect to and communicate with people about the importance of preventing unwanted wildfires. I am outgoing, which enables me to go to a lot of public events and share my prevention message. I am also active in getting my message out through social media. #OnlyYou 

What are some of your fire prevention rules?

Nearly 9 out of 10 wildfires are started by humans. Over the years, I have found that the public can help by doing the following things. These are what I call my fire prevention rules:

1. Always be careful with fire.
2. Never play with matches or lighters.
3. Never leave a campfire unattended, and make sure it is completely out before leaving it.
4. Don’t drag trailer chains while driving a vehicle; it can cause sparks.
5. Don’t park a vehicle on tall, dry grass.
Remember… Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires! 

What equipment do you use?

My tried-and-true tools are a shovel, a bucket, and common sense!
The bucket and shovel are useful for helping to put out campfires!

Most Exciting Project:

My most exciting project is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; Ad
Council; and the National Association of State Foresters to develop prevention campaign messages that are fresh, fun, and engaging. It’s always important to connect with the next generation on the importance of wildfire prevention. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram! 

When did you know you wanted to be a fire prevention bear?

During World War Il, wood was an important resource. Wildfires used money and people to fight them and burned valuable timber. In 1944, the Forest Service made me the “spokesbear” for wildfire prevention. My message is still relevant because more people are living close to wildlands. We need to protect people, homes, communities, wildlife, and the surrounding habitats.

Learn more at 

Extra activities to print at home: 

Flat Smokey 

Drown Your Campfire! 

Help Smokey Maze 

Write Smokey Bear a Letter 

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