Ohio wins Golden Smokey Award for wildfire prevention

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Mid-Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact’s (MAIFFPC) Fire Prevention Committee was recently presented with the Golden Smokey Award, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Ohio’s representative on the committee, Aaron Kloss of Centerburg in Knox County, accepted the honor on behalf of the ODNR Division of Forestry. The presentation ceremony took place at Vinton Furnace State Forest on Wednesday in conjunction with the Northeast-Midwest State Foresters Alliance summer meeting.

“I’m pleased to represent the ODNR Division of Forestry on the compact prevention committee and all of the work we have done for wildfire prevention across the state, region and nation,” said Kloss, who has been dispatched throughout the country more than 20 times to fight wildfires with ODNR’s wildland fire crews and as an ODNR Division of Forestry single resource. “To receive the Golden Smokey Award is a true honor, and being able to work with other people in our region who are passionate about preventing wildfires has been a great experience.”

Since 1957, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service has awarded the Golden Smokey Award to recognize organizations and individuals for their outstanding service in wildfire prevention at the national level. This prestigious award is considered the greatest honor presented to wildfire prevention organizations.

Kloss has worked for ODNR for 15 years and has served on the compact prevention committee for 14 years. One of his projects on the committee includes the Smokey Bear video, which helps teach kids about outdoor fire safety in an engaging way. The four-minute video was produced in Ohio and was a collaboration with the Columbus College of Art & Design and the ODNR Division of Forestry to research, design and create a new Smokey Bear animated video and song, available at forestry.ohiodnr.gov/smokeybear.

“The compact has maximized creativity and innovation to deliver fire prevention messages to thousands of people regionally, nationally and internationally,” said Robert Boyles, Ohio’s state forester. “Members have gone above and beyond their regular duties to influence fire prevention in a meaningful way.”

The MAIFFPC was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1956 and represents seven states in the Mid-Atlantic region, covering a collective 35,000,000 acres. The member states include Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The compact allows sharing of state resources for wildfire control and promotes effective wildfire prevention across the region, particularly through outreach projects managed by the Fire Prevention Committee.

Over the past several years, compact member states have worked together to produce innovative wildfire prevention messages that impact thousands of individuals across the United States and Canada. Creative outreach efforts include interactive children’s games, customized Smokey Bear artwork for the region and an international wildfire prevention-focused conference. Their upcoming projects consist of a supplemental Smokey-themed booklet, which will appear in the popular children’s magazine Highlights and a wildfire app.

The Smokey Bear awards are sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council. Individuals interested in the program may visit smokeybear.com/awards.

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

SOURCE: ODNR Division of Forestry press release

Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt has been a writer/editor for more than 25 years, working in law enforcement, aviation, supply chain and the RV industry. She's not a stranger to RVs, however. She grew up camping, and still camps as many weekends as she can every year. She is the owner of In Good Company Communications and can be reached at ingoodcompanycommunications@gmail.com.

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