Thomas Black, a firefighter on the Chattooga River Ranger District,
received a 2020 Bronze Smokey Bear Award. The award is the highest honor an individual can receive for outstanding wildfire prevention service. Presenting the award on behalf of U.S. Forest Service Chief Victoria Christiansen is Edward Hunter, Forest Supervisor for the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests and Amy McClave, District Fire Management Officer for the Chattooga River Ranger District.
Gainesville, Ga. -- The U.S. Forest Service - Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests is pleased to share the news that Thomas Black, a firefighter on the Chattooga River Ranger District, received a 2020 Bronze Smokey Bear Award – the highest honor an individual can receive for outstanding wildfire prevention service. Black was on hand to receive the award from Regional Forester Ken Arney and Forest Supervisor Edward Hunter in Gainesville, Georgia.
A national award, Black was selected to receive the very coveted Smokey Bear Award this year by Forest Service Chief Vicki Christensen. However, due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, Thomas was unable to be awarded this special award by the Chief. When presenting the award notification to Black, Christensen said, "You have gone well above your regular job duties to bring meaningful educational opportunities to the communities you serve. Your consistent and creative wildfire prevention messages have helped our nation's citizens - of all ages - understand the tremendous importance of Smokey's catchphrase and how they can do their part to prevent unwanted, human-caused wildfires."
Thomas Black has worked for the USDA Forest Service for approximately 19 years. He began his career with a three-year stay at a Job Corps Center in North Carolina and over the past sixteen years has honed his skills and developed a unique prevention program for the Chattooga River Ranger District in Northeast Georgia where he is now employed.
|Thomas Black, a firefighter on the Chattooga River Ranger District,
received a 2020 Bronze Smokey Bear Award.
Thomas reads stories about wildfire prevention and Smokey Bear to children
at one of several elementary schools he partners with on his district.
He includes a Smokey Bear appearance after the reading.
He assists the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests Fire Staff and other organizations at events small and large. Thomas is known for his dependable performances while wearing the Smokey Bear suit and is called upon for special occasions. Examples include being Smokey Bear for the Ad Council's Public Service Announcement taping with Jeff Foxworthy in Atlanta and appearing as Smokey Bear for the U.S. Capital Christmas Tree tour whistle stop in Lawrenceville, GA.
Thomas' passion, dedication, and ability to selflessly work with partners has led to the development of a consistent fire prevention program which has made a difference in Georgia and beyond.
Since 1957, the prestigious Smokey Bear Award program has recognized organizations and individuals for outstanding service in wildfire prevention at the national level (gold), multi-state level (silver), and statewide level (bronze).
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council, the Smokey Bear Awards honor the exemplary efforts of employees, partners, and cooperators to reduce the threat of unwanted human-caused wildfires.
This year’s Regional Forester award ceremony theme was chosen with our current situation in mind: “Overcoming Challenges: Our Commitment through Resilience and Innovation.”
To help protect these amazing places, remember Smokey’s Five Rules of Wildfire Prevention:In some cases fire is good for a forest, but unplanned fires that burn too hot can make it hard for the forest to recover.
Only you can prevent wildfires
Always be careful with fire
Never play with matches or lighters
Always watch your campfire
Make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving it
Learn more at: https://www.smokeybear.com.
About the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests provide the finest outdoor recreation opportunities and natural resources in Georgia. Featuring nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties, thousands of miles of clear-running streams and rivers, approximately 850 miles of recreation trails, and dozens of campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreation activity opportunities, these lands are rich in natural scenery, history and culture. The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
To receive instant alerts and updates on forest information, follow @ChattOconeeNF on Twitter and Facebook or visit us on the web at www.fs.usda.gov/conf.