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Arbor Day Tree Planting
Hundreds of elementary school students, along with USFS and other partners planted a red oak tree for South Carolina Arbor Day at Watkins-Nance Elementary School.
FY24 Albuquerque Aloft: Smokey Bear Balloon and Fire Prevention
The International Balloon Fiesta is a 9-day event in the greater Albuquerque area. Albuquerque Aloft is the only Balloon Fiesta event in which balloons launch from pre-designated sites outside of Balloon Fiesta Park. Pilots coordinate with local schools. The Southwestern Region worked with Friends of Smokey Bear Balloon and Joe Harris Elementary to provide fire prevention activities to students, their family and staff for the morning event. Students met Smokey Bear and learned about things that they can do prevent human-caused wildfires.
Rio Rancho, NM

"Do you have what it takes?" - Living History Days at Lochsa Historical Ranger Station
Today’s forest rangers bring many unique talents to their jobs, but in the past, before the creation of a highway network, widespread internet connectivity, and global positioning systems, the skills required for their work were a little different. On September 12th and 13th, 120 4th and 5th grade students from Grangeville Elementary, Nez Perce Elementary, and Clearwater Valley Elementary took field trips to the Lochsa Historic Ranger Station on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests to learn the ‘analog’ skills needed to become forest rangers from volunteers and retired and current US Forest Service employees who are experts at these “old time” ranger skills. This event was held at the Lochsa Historic Ranger Station which served as a backcountry ranger station for the Clearwater National Forest from 1925 to 1958. In 1976, it was restored to serve as a living history museum where visitors can learn about the life and skills of forest rangers during the time this ranger station operated, and exhibits were created to explain the history of the forest. The field trips featured stations devoted to various aspects of the work forest rangers performed and still perform today. These stations included fire lookouts, wilderness values, traditional tool use, mule and horse packing, smokejumping, blacksmithing, dutch oven cooking, and biscuit making (and eating). Students rotated between all of the stations and engaged in hands-on demonstrations that allowed them to get a sense of the impressive skills that rangers needed to get the job done. Horse and Mule packer Heidi Brackebusch, in her first season as a packer based at Moose Creek, explained the importance of this programming to local students: “Not that long ago I went to school on the Camas Prairie and Forest Service employees came and taught us what they did and now I can do the same for the next generation. Kids who haven’t been around stock at first are intimidated but they warm right up to Anna and Taco [her animals]. Volunteer Judy Kay has been volunteering at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center for five years; her vivid interpretive talk and corn husk dollmaking brought the life of pioneer women to life, but her favorite activity as a volunteer is “chinking and maintaining historic cabins” on the forests so that these historic structures remain accessible for future generations. Volunteer Jane Holman who grew up in Dixie, Idaho and who lived with her forest ranger husband at the Moose Creek Ranger Station in the 1960s explained that “This is a reminder of the old time operations. [It] gives those who have no clue what USFS does a sense of the hard work rangers do.” Among the hands-on experiences students got to partake in were demonstrations of the near century old Osborne Fire Finder used by fire lookouts to ascertain accurate locations of forest fires they spotted, quickly suiting up into the fire and brush resistant uniforms worn by smokejumpers, and working together to operate a crosscut saw on a log. Student Max Smith said that “the biscuit station was my favorite because I like food” and he also “was surprised to learn how big the [4 million acre Nez Perce-Clearwater National] forest is.” Helen Akre shared Max’s appreciation for the “super flaky and delicious” biscuits and was impressed by “the anvil so glowing and burning hot” at the blacksmith station. Brighton Bramwell said that the crosscut saw demonstration at the trails station “was my favorite activity, because I liked actually doing the thing itself as I learned.” At the end of the trip as students gathered for lunch they were sworn in as rangers and issued junior ranger badges by Moose Creek District Ranger Ron Tipton and Lochsa-Powell Deputy District Ranger Chris Noyes. They also left with a personal understanding of the breadth and depth of skills that the USFS professionals in their community bring to their jobs.

Celebrating Outdoor Education Outreach Event
Staff of the Cibola National Forest and the Sandia Ranger District, in Partnership with Public Lands Interpretive Association, presented programming opportunities to community members for the Celebrating Outdoor Education event at Wilson Middle School hosted by Environmental Education of New Mexico. While tabling at the event, staff were able to educate fellow community members, organizational leads, parents, students, and educators about the offerings of the Forest Service and PLIA for youth. Messaging focused on the opportunity for distribution of the Every Kid Outdoor Pass to 4th grade students and classrooms and PLIA organized clubs for 7th grade students. Smokey Bear branded swag was handed out as well as informational brochures.
Smokejumper Demonstration
Smokejumpers from the West Yellowstone Smokejumper Base participated in a practice jump at Refuge Point to reenact the rescue efforts that followed the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake. This event took place on the 64th anniversary of the earthquake.
West Yellowstone, MT
NICE All Stars Awards Ceremony
This Valentine’s Day, from 2:00 to 3:30 pm Eastern, the Engage! Community of Practice hosted the FY2022 NatureWatch, Interpretation, and Conservation Education All Stars Awards. We presented a variety of awards around key topics such as fire prevention, climate change education and recreation. We also presented highlights from each region.
West Virginia Entomological Meeting January 6th 2023
This event was a conference with many entomology related educational talks hosted by the West Virginia Entomological Society. Speakers were from the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, West Virginia University, APHIS, and members of the US Forest Service. Tim Tomon and Kristen Wickert gave a twenty-minute presentation about their special projects and how they relate to entomology in the state of West Virginia. Attendees of the conference included students from WVU with interests in entomology and those pursing a degree in entomology. Professionals in the state of West Virginia that work in the fields of department of environmental protection, criminal justice, forestry, youth education, wildlife and fisheries and agriculture were also in attendance.
Helena High School SnowSchool
We conducted a Winter Survival Curriculum as part of our Winter SnowSchol program with four classes of High School Life Skills students. The students spent approximately 45 minutes with us learning winter outdoor skills such as snowshoeing, orienteering and fire building.

Christmas in the Country
This is the 3rd year that the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, in conjunction with the City of Santa Maria sponsored Christmas in the Country. We started setting up our Christmas in the Country display on December 2 and finished it by December 6. On the 7th and 8th we had dry runs to make sure all the lights were functioning correctly for the start on December 9th. Businesses/organizations from throughout the Central Coast set up light displays at the Elks Rodeo ground. There are other displays as well, such as a live Nativity scene where live animals are present, including camels, rare cows, sheep, donkey, goats, etc. There was also a North Pole workshop, an abominable snowman tunnel, a 50-foot Santa and a tunnel where one drove through snow. Our display consisted of a campground scene. We had an old Forest Service jeep, a retired engine, a picnic table, a fire ring with an imitation fire burning, a tent, a Smokey Bear cut-out and live cedars and manzanita bushes which were loaned to us by a local nursery known as Native Son’s Nursery. We also created a creek using blue rope lights and led lights. A Los Padres National Forest Sign and Forest Shield were set up at the beginning of the display where the cars drove through. The jeep and engine were outlined in green lights, while the cedars and manzanitas were lit up with sparkling white lights. We also placed spotlights at strategic locations to highlight our display. There were easily over 50 displays from the different businesses/organizations, including ours. Approximately 2,100 vehicles drove through the displays throughout this time frame. By averaging 4 people per vehicle, that would make it 8,400 people who viewed our display. Realistically there were probably more since many of those vehicles were SUVs and pick-up trucks with people riding on the bed. What an amazing way to make people aware of our awesome forest.
Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists (SCVN) Advanced Training for Naturalists @ Sabino Canyon Recreation Area (SCRA) FY23
Through monthly, on-line lectures presented by content experts, SCVN is committed to providing all Naturalists with a science-based, continuing education program focused on all aspects of Sabino Canyon and the Santa Catalina Mountain ecosystems and their histories and prehistories to help Naturalists become better teachers and guides for the school children and general public they serve