Smokey Bear lights up faces of Lindsay students

By Jamie Hunt

&#8220We are all smart first graders,” said David Sandborg, Forest Service Officer, who was giving a fire prevention presentation to three first grade classes at Lincoln Elementary School in Lindsay, on Thursday, Feb. 23.

&#8220Smokey's helpers never play with matches!”

Four Forest Service employees David Sandborg, Alan Garfield, Lorna Rambo, Richard Sandoval, and Smokey the Bear, taught the students Smokey's safety rules with questions and answer sessions, a slide show, a test on the safety rules and a visit from Smokey the Bear if the kids answered all the questions.

At the beginning of each presentation, Sandborg would talk to each class and outline Smokey's fire prevention rules, then each of his associates would take a small group of kids and go over the rules with them, asking and answering questions with their group.

After these group sessions, Sandborg gave a slide show with a questions and answers and a quiz.

Sandborg and associates handed out &#8220Smokey the Bear Helper badges” after Smokey the Bear visited the classrooms and listened to all the students answer the safety questions. Smokey, Sandborg and the forest service crew then left a package of special wooden pencils for the classes, a package of coloring books, plus a special package of safety information for the first graders to take home to their parents.

He used the slide show as a questions and answers game, telling the kids a little bit about the pictures and discussing Smokey's rules with them, having them answer his questions. &#8220Squirrels are smart,” said Sandborg, &#8220they don't play with matches.” Showing a picture of a house on fire, he explained that fires happen often because of matches, and that no one was hurt in that fire, but that you have to run outside and stay outside if your house or any building is on fire.

After showing slides of the forest and Smokey's home, there were more questions about Smokey's rules and some general questions from the kids. &#8220Are we supposed to pet the wild animals?” asked one of the students. &#8220No, let them be wild.” said Sandborg.

One of the first grade boys said, &#8220It's scary when those kids burn up Smokey's yard.”

As the Forest Service members went to a third, Sandoval, remarked proudly about his grandson, a student at Lincoln school &#8220Last year, Isaac saw a fire coming over the ridge and called me on the phone and said, &#8220Look, Grandpa, there's a fire!”

Sandborg gave his presentation and slide show to Sherry Doria's class and Ms. Smythe's kindergarten and first grade class. The students were very attentive and seemed to know a bit about fire prevention. There were books on a school table about various occupations. A list of occupations hung up across the school room ceiling.

When the slide show was over and Sandborg had finished with the fire safety presentation, Smokey came in to visit the students and listen to their answers while Sandborg questioned them about the rules they had learned about not playing with matches, taking matches away from younger children, etc.

The students learned their lessons well; yelling out their answers because Smokey couldn't hear very well, because he was old, explained Sandborg to the students.

&#8220We have read quite a few books about firefighters and this is what the kids wanted,” said teacher Doria.

The Forest Service handed out a bag of goodies for the class, plus special pencils from Smokey for the kids, coloring books for the class, and a magnet.

The students also received special badges because they were now Smokey's official helpers.

”Why doesn't Smokey speak?” asked one little first girl in Doria's class.

&#8220Well, Smokey's very shy,” said Doria.

&#8220We read books about people in the community, two about firefighters, and sang songs about these people.” said Doria. The occupations listed were: Teacher, police officer, firefighter, veterinarian, construction worker, mail carrier, baker, doctor, taxi driver, librarian, and bus driver.

Doria quizzed the kids on Smokey's rules and read them a book given to them by the Forest Service. She asked the students if they had ever been burnt. &#8220Tell all grown ups if you see someone playing with matches or fire,” said Doria, &#8220If you ever see a fire call 911, or have a grown-up call.”

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