A Smokey the Bear sign is seen as firefighters battle the Angora fire as it approaches homes June 26, 2007 in South Lake Tahoe, California. =
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Which cartoon icons are teaching kids about the environment? 

Woodsy Owl and Smokey Bear get an update for a new generation

The federal government has a long history of helping to educate children about the environment through cartoon characters, some of which have been updated for a new era of climate education.

>> RELATED: How teachers bring climate science into the classroom

Smokey Bear first appeared in 1944 reminding us “only you can prevent forest fires,” but as government policy evolved to include controlled burns that prevent larger, unplanned fires, Smokey’s message got a subtle tweak in 2001. “Only you can prevent wildfires” suggests that planned fires are OK.

Here’s Smokey in 1952: 

In honor of Smokey’s 75th Anniversary, state forest services are taking part in the Smokey Bear Challenge. Here’s the contribution from the Georgia Forestry Commission:

Woodsy Owl told kids to “Give a Hoot! Don’t Pollute!” in 1971, but by 1997, he was encouraging healthy relationships with nature with a new motto. “Lend a hand, care for the land!” encourages kids to renew, reuse and recycle.

And here’s a look at the new Woodsy in 1997:

Energy Ant surfaced in 1975 when the Federal Energy Administration (which later became part of the U.S. Department of Energy) needed to give conservation a push during the energy crisis. The blue ant still helps kids use energy wisely, appearing on the department’s Energy Kids page.

Click here to read more on how kids are learning about the climate 

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