IITF celebrates Smokey Bear

PUERTO RICO—This week, International Institute of Tropical Forestry started its year-round celebration of Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday. During a monthly meeting, all the employees gathered to recognize the importance of fire prevention promotion and efforts, especially in the areas of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

During the activity, Smokey was celebrated for his efforts in wildfire prevention since the creation of the public service advertising campaign in 1952, when The Smokey Bear Act was established. Of course, no birthday celebration is complete without a cake, and at the end everyone at IITF facilities shared one to honor Smokey.

Smokey Bear appeared at the meeting to share his iconic message, “Only YOU can prevent wildfires,” and greet all the employees who had gathered together to celebrate. Smokey’s birthday is actually August 9; however, units and forests across the country are celebrating year-round. Dr. Ariel Lugo, director of the institute, along with all the employees, agreed on the importance of spreading the word about wildfire prevention among the public and certainly Smokey serves this purpose, especially among younger populations.

The Forest Service, National Association of State Foresters and Advertising Council are entitled to use Smokey Bear on their campaigns. The iconic bear has been a symbol for wildfire prevention and the real history behind the icon has inspired the population for decades.


Iris Velez stands in the front of a conference room; behind her is a slide detailing a timeline of 75 years of wildfire history.
Iris Vélez, Acting Cooperative Forestry Manager, presented Smokey Bear at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry meeting. USDA Forest Service photo by Yaneris Soto.
Smokey Bear stands at the front of a conference room and greets employees.
Smokey Bear surprised the employees at the meeting. USDA Forest Service photo by Yaneris Soto.