Texas A&M Forest Service employee earns prestigious Smokey Bear Award

A Texas A&M Forest Service employee was honored with the prestigious Bronze Smokey Bear Award during today’s National Association of State Foresters Annual Meeting in Asheville, North Carolina.

Wildland Urban Interface Specialist Samuel McCalip, a self-taught videographer, has harnessed the power of storytelling to bring wildfire prevention awareness across the state.

“As a forester, wildland firefighter, public information officer and prevention team member, Samuel has combined his love of forestry and ecosystems, desire to protect natural resources and skill for educating the public,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Program Leader Karen Stafford. “In a matter of months, McCalip taught himself how to produce high-quality videos to help reach the citizens of Texas.”

Texas A&M Forest Service first utilized McCalip’s videos to increase awareness of wildfire prevention practices when wildfires burned in the Panhandle in 2017.

The following year, McCalip’s video “Dragging Chains,” a PSA meant to educate the public about the risk of causing sparks when dragging chains from a vehicle, was the foundation of the “Do Your Part, Don’t Let a Wildfire Start” series.

“Samuel has taken his skills behind the camera and his passion for prevention and mitigation and combined them into a very unique and effective tool for spreading Smokey’s prevention message,” Texas State Forester Tom Boggus said. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving.”

Since then, McCalip has produced several informational, educational and promotional videos for the agency and hosted multiple video production training sessions for other Texas A&M Forest Service departments to build the agency’s capacity.

“Samuel’s creativity and innovation has sparked those around him to come up with ideas to improve effectiveness and efficiency in delivering core agency messaging,” Stafford said. “He’s turned his passion for wildfire prevention into art.”

Across the nation, only 10 recipients are presented the Bronze Smokey Bear Award each year.

About the Smokey Bear Awards

Through the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) Program, the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), and the Advertising Council sponsor the national Smokey Bear Awards to recognize outstanding service in the prevention of human caused wildfires and to increase public recognition and awareness of the need for continuing wildfire prevention efforts. The Smokey Bear Awards are the highest national honor one can receive for outstanding work and significant program impact in wildfire prevention. This merit award has been bestowed on well-deserving groups and individuals annually since 1957.

Photo attached: Texas State Forester Tom Boggus, USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, Texas A&M Forest Service Wildland Urban Interface Specialist Samuel McCalip and NASF Treasurer and Arkansas State Forester Joe Fox attend the presentation ceremony in Asheville, North Carolina, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019.

The information in this article was sent in a press release from the Texas A&M Forest Service.

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