According to a release from the Texas Forest Service, Karen Stafford, Wildfire Prevention Program Coordinator with Texas A&M Forest Service is one of the members on a national team that has earned the Gold Smokey Bear Award. The National Smokey Bear 75 Planning Team planned and executed a year-long celebration of Smokey Bear’s 75 birthday in 2019.

The nation-wide celebration kicked off with the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, California, and concluded in December 2019 with the Secretary of Agriculture’s Christmas Tree lighting in Washington, D.C.

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Other major events throughout the year included the development of an exhibit at Smokey’s former enclosure at the National Zoo, a nation-wide distance learning opportunity (Smokey Bear LIVE), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, an August 9th Time Square appearance, New York Times crossword puzzle and Jeopardy! mentions and more than 300 birthday parties across the country.

The team included members from the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council — and in an innovative value-added approach — also included a representative (Stafford) from State and Private Forestry to represent state forestry agencies.

“When you look at the numbers of wildfires and acres burned in this state and across the country, fire prevention must remain at the forefront of our minds. We simply could not prevent and fight these fires without the critical partnerships from our neighboring state and private landowners,” said Jan Davis, Deputy Regional Forester for USDA Forest Service.Davis, a former Texas A&M Forest Service employee herself, presented Stafford with the Smokey Bear Award in College Station recently as part of the Texas A&M Forest Service’s annual personnel meeting.

The Gold Smokey Bear Award is the highest honor given to organizations or individuals for outstanding wildfire prevention service that is national in scope over at least a two-year period. A maximum of three Gold Smokey Bear awards may be given annually. The USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) and the Advertising Council (through the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) Program) sponsor the national Smokey Bear Awards.


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