It’s someone’s birthday! Hooo?

Kathryn Sosbe
Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service
September 13th, 2013 at 2:30PM

Whether you give a hoot and don’t pollute or go out and lend a hand to care for the land, thank Woodsy Owl, the iconic symbol of conservation of the U.S. Forest Service.


After all, Woodsy Owl celebrates his 42nd birthday on Sept. 15 and has outlasted most environmental symbols from the 1970s and even expanded his repertoire to include such things as helping preschoolers learn their ABCs via conservation messages.


“Woodsy Owl’s messages are clear: all of us have a responsibility to help this Earth,” said Heidi McAllister, assistant director of the agency’s Conservation Education program. “He appears at schools, on our forests and grasslands and even on Sesame Street and at the White House. He is clearly a symbol that will be with us for a long time.”


There’s a lot that people may not know about Woodsy Owl. For example, he has his own song, “The Ballad of Woodsy Owl.”

                Give a hoot don’t pollute.

                Your good outdoor manners show.

                Leave a trail that’s nice and clean wherever you may go.


Of course, Woodsy has kept up with the times and now has the “Rubbish Rap” about composting:

                Here I go with an owl rap about taking some garbage off the map.

                The trash from your breakfast yesterday can turn into plant food the Woodsy way!

Created in 1971, Woodsy helps teachers, parents and other natural resource professionals encourage children to actively care for their world around them.


Woodsy started his life a bit short and a bit, well, rotund. On Earth Day in 1977, a new, updated Woodsy emerged with a slimmer figure and spiffy outdoor gear including rugged pants, a backpack and a hat. He also has expanded his message to motivate kids to form healthy, lasting relationships with the outdoors using a positive, easy-to-remember message: “Lend a Hand! Care for the Land!”


Woodsy’s four “Rs,” – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot – help teach children about cutting down on the amount of things they use and to reuse and recycle them as much as possible. The fourth “R” shows kids how to use fruits and vegetables, dead leaves and grass clippings to make compost.


Not only does he spread his message in person, but he has small yet growing Twitter and Facebook following. Woodsy is now half-way toward his goal of 10,000 Facebook “likes” by his birthday.


“Woody’s open, friendly character and obvious love of nature and the environment help draw kids in and help them to remember his conservation message,” McAllister said. “Happy birthday, Woodsy!”


Followers of Woodsy Owl also can purchase items through the authorized National Symbols Cache, an online store where users will find a selection of educational and promotional materials featuring Woodsy Owl and Smokey Bear. The latest are aluminum, non-reflective signs for $22.50 that can be posted akin to a street sign.