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Smokey Bear's 80th Birthday

Celebrating Smokey Bear's 80th Birthday

Smokey Bear turns 80 on August 9. Smokey Bear started helping the US Forest Service in 1944 to inform and remind the public about the importance of fire safety. Smokey's message of only you can help prevent wildfires is as relevant and urgent today as it was in 1944.

Celebrate Smokey’s 80th Birthday by learning how to prevent wildfires when exploring Iowa’s great outdoor areas. Whether those outdoor areas are in state forests or parks, school grounds, city parks or simply the yard around your home, these easy and fun activities can help you better understand your natural surroundings and how careless fire use can quickly destroy them.

Trees for Schools Grant

The Trees for Schools grants are available to eligible public and private schools and school districts to help increase and diversify tree canopy on school grounds, encouraging students to take an active part in this experience and increasing the benefits trees provide to students. Grant funding is competitive, non-match, and awarded in amounts of up to $5,000 per project. 

Application is available online on the Urban Forestry web page.  

For questions, please contact Chip Murrow at 515-822-1031 or email


Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an environmental education program for K-12 students that teaches about trees, forestry, the interrelationships between organisms and their environment, and other ecological concepts. Over 10,000 Iowa educators and youth leaders have participated in PLT workshops throughout the program's history. For more information, or to sign up for a workshop, please visit the PLT Homepage.

Sample PLT Activities:
Charting Diversity
Field, Forest, and Stream
Web of Life

Suggested Activity Lists
Early Grades (K-4) Suggested Activity by Activity
Early Grades (K-4) Suggested Activity by Social Studies Standard
Early Grades (K-4) Suggested Activity by Science Standard
Middle Grades (5-8) Suggested Activity by Activity
Middle Grades (5-8) Suggested Activity by Science Standard
Middle Grades (5-8) Suggested Activity by Social Studies Standard
Secondary (9-12) Suggested Activity by Activity
Secondary (9-12) Suggested Activity by Social Studies Standard
Secondary (9-12) Suggested Activity by Science Standard

PLT Secondary Modules

PLT secondary environmental education modules meet common components of national education reform by using the constructivist approach to learning, whole language teaching, cooperative learning, problem solving, and authentic assessments. The modules are intended for grades 9-12 but can be adapted for older audiences as well.

Available on-line:
Exploring Environmental Issues: Biodiversity
Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Risk - Biotechnology

Modules in print:
Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Forests
Exploring Environmental Issues: Municipal Solid Waste
Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Risk
Global Connections: Forests of the World
Exploring Environmental Issues: Places We Live

Fun Smokey Bear Facts

  • In 1943, the year before Smokey became the spokes bear for the Forest Service on preventing wildfires, Walt Disney loaned the stars from its 1942 movie, Bambi, for the Forest Service campaign. It had a man-caused forest fire in it.
  • In 1971, Charles Schulz added Smokey’s hat to his Peanuts cartoon character, Snoopy, to help the Forest Service’s Campaign on Fire Safety.

  • The living Smokey Bear was found as an injured cub in 1950 after a wildfire burned in Capitan Mountains of New Mexico.

  • Smokey’s original slogan in 1944 was “Smokey says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires.”  Smokey now says “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.” 

Forest News

Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood

Developed with preschool educators and early childhood specialists, this guide is designed for educators who work with children ages 3 to 6. It offers over 130 experiences that engage children in outdoor play and exploration. Topics include exploring nature with five senses, meeting neighborhood trees, and experiencing trees through the seasons. An accompanying CD features music from children's musician Billy B. Brennan that encourages children to sing, dance, and move.

Activities adhere to the guidelines set forth in the national standards for early childhood education – NAEYC Criteria for Curriculum, Head Start Child Outcomes Framework and the NAAEE Early Childhood Environmental Education Guidelines for Excellence. Additional correlations have been drafted to Iowa Early Childhood program and curriculum standards – Quality Preschool Program Standards, Iowa Early Learning Standards, and the Iowa Core Curriculum.

Contact: 515-822-1031