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    Description

    Around the world, youth are recognized as playing an important role in reducing the risk of disasters and promoting community resilience. Youth are participating in disaster education programs and carrying home what they learn; their families, in turn, are disseminating knowledge into the community. In addition to making a difference today, youth disaster education programs train the adults of tomorrow to be more prepared citizens. As social scientists and education researchers working in wildfire risk mitigation, we asked in what ways can wildfire education programs for youth help develop and support fire-adapted human communities? To begin to answer this question, we studied seven wildfire education programs for youth across the U.S. Programs were based in schools, public agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In a series of interviews, we sought information that would enable us to describe and analyze (1) the program's characteristics and the local resources to support it, (2) ways in which the program increased knowledge and awareness of wildfire, promoted more realistic risk perceptions, and improved wildfire preparedness for youth and their families, and (3) ways in which the program contributed to the local community becoming more adapted to fire. We found that the extent to which the programs were integrated into local wildfire planning and management efforts varied, as did their effectiveness in reaching community members and homeowners. In this report we present findings from one case study—the West Virginia Firewise in the Classroom program (WV Firewise in the Classroom).

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    Citation

    Jakes, Pamela J. 2012. West Virginia Firewise in the Classroom: youth working with communities to adapt to wildfire. Res. Note NRS-138. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 13 p.

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    Keywords

    fire-adapted community, youth environmental education, youth disaster education, service learning, place-based learning, experiential learning

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