Of course, everyone loves free stuff! So, the fourth graders felt quite motivated to learn the lessons and show me all they knew about fire safety. In return, they received free passes to public lands. Part of the program included picturing themselves as Smokey Bear helpers, being fire safe, and educating others about fire safety.
Public outreach is essential to encourage the public to learn about public lands, learn how to conserve natural resources, and preserve historical artifacts. The last event I coordinated celebrated National Public Lands Day at the Knoxville Recreation Area, Hunting Creek Campground. Here, the public helped the BLM Ukiah Field Office staff keep public lands clean. Participants learned about historical artifacts while doing the cleanup, enjoyed off-highway vehicle access, and learned about the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.
Seeing long-time volunteers that have worked for years working with newcomers eager to join and help out, reinforced my beliefs in the power of volunteering on public lands. Agencies that manage the lands depend so much on the public to help with conservation!
By Fabiola Torres Toledo, Resource Assistant, Berryessa Snowmountain National Monument and Mendocino National Forest at Ukiah, California.