Wildfire prevention partners announce 2024 Smokey Bear Awardees

WASHINGTON—The partners behind the wildfire prevention legend Smokey Bear and his public service advertisement campaign—the longest running in United States history—are pleased to announce the 2024 national Smokey Bear Award awardees. The Smokey Bear Awards are reserved for individuals, teams, and organizations that provide outstanding service with significant and sustained program impact in the wildfire prevention arena.

In the world of wildfire prevention, there is no greater honor than receiving a Smokey Bear Award. From the 1950s to today, the Smokey Bear Awards program has been managed by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the Ad Council, and the USDA Forest Service.

“We are continually impressed by the public servants dedicated to preventing human-caused wildfires,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “They bring not only their passion of helping Smokey Bear, but also a deep knowledge of education that passes the practice of fire prevention on to the next generation of natural resource stewards.”

This year, three individuals and one team have earned prestigious recognition for fire prevention work in their communities.

CERTIFICATE

Linda Austin

Linda Austin began her firefighting career in 1988 and eventually retired in 2022 as an Engine Captain on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland (ARP). She tragically passed away on August 25th, 2023. Linda demonstrated a real passion for wildfire prevention by spearheading activities and pioneering programming before a formal prevention program was established on the ARP. Over her 34-year career, she embodied Smokey’s positive attitude and found ways to turn ordinary interactions into crucial teaching moments.

BRONZE

Michelle Moore

Michelle Moore is a Staff Forester (II) with the Texas A&M Forest Service, yet she dedicated additional time outside of her regular responsibilities to follow her personal passion for fire prevention. Seeing a need to help prepare non-fire personnel in fire prevention efforts, Michelle created a virtual training that transformed Texas A&M Forest Service’s approach to fire prevention and now serves as a model for other states and agencies. Michelle also brought fire prevention education to major league baseball games, primary schools, and pet adoption centers. The virtual training and other fire prevention education efforts helped increase the capacity of partner organizations to help spread Smokey’s message.

SILVER

Spark Safety Campaign Team

A group of BLM Fire Mitigation and Education Specialists in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho partnered with regional gas station chain Maverik—Adventure’s First Stop to create creative and memorable PSA videos that celebrate the culture of the western United States. Over the course of three years, this public-private partnership aired 6 original fire prevention PSAs for over 100 million views and sold 391,521 firewood bundles with “Drown, Stir, Feel” messaging. The Spark Safety Team showed tremendous leadership, inspiring similar spin-off campaigns among other fire agencies and National Fire Prevention Education Teams.

LEGACY

Maureen Brooks

Maureen Brooks retired in 2023 as Branch Chief for Wildfire Prevention and Community Mitigation. Prior to joining the USDA Forest Service, Maureen worked in fire prevention for the Maryland Forest Service for 20 years. In 2010, Maureen was honored with a silver Smokey Bear award for her long-term strategic planning in Region 9 (Northeast/Midwest). As Branch Chief, Maureen provided invaluable expertise to the national Smokey Bear campaign and led licensing operations. In 2020, Maureen led the 75th birthday national planning team who earned a gold Smokey Bear Award. Her tenure as Branch Chief was marked by her foresight, constant consideration about the next generation, and preparing for Smokey’s 80th birthday and beyond.

“This year’s awardees provide us with exemplary models for developing wildfire prevention programming,” said NASF president Scott Phillips. “These individuals and organizations show that wildfire prevention is so much more than what we typically think of, and these innovative ideas are absolutely critical as we combat the wildfire crisis.”

“This year’s winners of the Smokey Bear Award all share an outstanding commitment to education” said Michelle Hillman, Ad Council Chief Campaign Development Officer. “Whether it’s baseball games or bundles of firewood, their work to teach the public about accidental, human-caused wildfire has been remarkable and we congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition.”

The 2024 Smokey Bear Awards will be presented at Smokey Bear’s 80th birthday celebration and poster contest award ceremony at the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. on August 9th, 2024. You can get to know this year’s awardees, as well as past winners, with a visit to SmokeyBear.com. The nominations period for the 2025 Smokey Bear Awards is now open and will close in December 2024.

Media Contact: Emilie Austin at eaustin@stateforesters.org


USDA Forest Service
The Forest Service is the agency responsible for overseeing the use of Smokey Bear in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council. The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands for the American Public. Its mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

National Association of State Foresters
Since its start in 1920, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) has served as a leading authority on forest management in the United States. NASF’s members are the primary delivery system for forest management activities nationwide. They conserve, enhance, and protect state and private forests, which encompass nearly two-thirds of the nation’s forests, and are responsible for wildfire protection on more than 1.5 billion acres. Learn more at www.stateforesters.org.

Ad Council
The Ad Council convenes creative storytellers to educate, unite and uplift audiences by opening hearts, inspiring action and accelerating change around the most pressing issues in America. Since the non-profit’s founding, the organization and its partners in advertising, media, marketing and tech have been behind some of the country’s most iconic social impact campaigns – Smokey Bear, A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste, Love Has No Labels, Tear the Paper Ceiling and many more. With a current focus on mental health, gun safety, the opioid epidemic, skill-based hiring and other critical issues, the Ad Council’s national campaigns encompass advertising and media content, ground game and community efforts, trusted messenger and influencer engagement, and employer programs, among other innovative strategies to move the needle on the most important issues of the day.

To learn more or get involved, visit AdCouncil.org, join the Ad Council’s communities on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter, and view campaign creative on YouTube.

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