Billie Blair, president, opened the meeting with devotion and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Cox introduced and welcomed her guests from the Tennessee Division of Forestry to the meeting: Tom Hudlow, Tennessee Division of Forestry forester; Greg Thomas, Trent Waymire and Josh Dunn, from the Bradley County Forestry Office.
Hudlow presented a program on Smokey Bear and showed a DVD titled, “A Day in the Forest With Smokey Bear.” The movie assists in engaging young people to conserve forests and outdoor areas by teaching Smokey Bear’s five rules of fire prevention: Rule 1. Only you can prevent wildfires. Rule 2. Always be careful with fires. Rule 3. Never play with matches or lighters. Rule 4. Always watch your campfire. Rule 5. Make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving it.
Smokey’s story began in 1950 when a small, badly burned cub was rescued by a forest ranger from a wildfire near Ruidoso, N.M. The ranger took the cub home, nursed it back to good health, and named it Smokey Bear. News of the rescue reached the National Forest Service Office in Washington, D.C. They asked the ranger if the cub could live in the National Zoo where he remained until his death. Smokey’s message — “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” — became the icon for the Forest Service.
Hudlow told the members that wildfires are caused by a number of reasons; including lightning, campfires, debris burning, arson, fireworks, equipment and people. The majority of wildfires are caused by people not following the proper safety fire techniques. He discussed burn permits which focus attention on the safe use of fires.
A burn permit is required for residents living in Bradley County from Oct. 15 through May 15 for debris burns. The permits are free and can be obtained by calling the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Forestry Division at 478-0337. They will provide the proper disposal method for what you want to burn.
The AGC Youth who participated in the Smokey Bear/Woodsy Owl Poster Contest in 2012 was presented a Certificate of Participation from Blair, as well as Smokey Bear pencils, rulers, bandana, the “True Story of Smokey Bear,” and “Firewise” handouts for the adults. Cox also prepared an educational display board on Smokey, and highlighted some of the posters the youth had drawn. After the program, everyone was surprised and delighted with a visit from Smokey Bear and took pictures with the friendly black bear.
A brief business meeting was conducted by the president while enjoying refreshments. Thanks to the hostess was given by Cynthia Humes. Others in attendance were Barbara Brown, Sheryl Gash, Dorothy Keith, Margenia McKissic, Regenia Piersaul, Charlotte Scott, Lelia Ware, Jackie Westfield, Lillian Gaines, AnaBrazilian Ferreirai, Nicholas Wesley, C.J. Wesley, Alyana Wesley, Tatyana O’Neal and Christen Gaines.