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Publication Details

Title: The evolution of Smokey Bear: Environmental education about wildfire for youth

Author: Ballard, Heidi L.; Evans, Emily; Sturtevant, Victoria E.; Jakes, Pamela.

Year: 2012

Publication: The Journal of Environmental Education. 43(4): 227-240.

Abstract: Many environmental education programs in the United States educate youth about the prevention of wildfire and its role in ecosystems.We reviewed 50 wildfire education programs for youth (WEY) in the U.S. through an Internet search and interviews with program providers. We investigated whether they reflect current wildfire science, environmental education (EE) instructional strategies, and place-based education (PBE) approaches. We found that while one-third of the programs focus exclusively on wildfire prevention, suppression, and safety topics, one-third focuses on fire ecology, management, and science, and one-third includes all these topics, mirroring evolving scientific approaches to wildfire. Also, while state and federal agencies design and disseminate much of the curricula used, 60% of WEY programs incorporate local social and ecological contexts, revealing the close relationship between WEY and PBE.

Last Modified: 7/17/2012


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