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  • Writer's pictureJenna Granger

FOREST⇌FIRE an Introduction

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

What do you do when kids are asking their parents and teachers if their house is going to burn down in a catastrophic wildfire? This fear that many of us have here in Tahoe, is real and our children are hearing it and experiencing it too.

In early 2020, Executive Director, Missy Mohler, was aiming to answer this question for our local students. She was asking herself, "how can SWEP help students in the Tahoe Truckee area take action towards reducing catastrophic wildfires?" She, as she often does, came back to her/SWEP's motto, Action Fosters Hope. This set off time brainstorming ideas and curriculum with Program Director, Ashley Phillips.

These two experts of combining hands-on-science education, advocacy, and art brought their idea to educate local youth about the forests they live in, the forests’ relationship with fire, and students’ role within that relationship to potential community partners.

The Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation, a non-profit that aims to enhance education through providing support to teachers and educational organizations in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, saw the importance of this topic for our local students and decided to offer a grant to make this three-year project happen.

SWEP also received foundational funding from Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation's Queen of Hearts that helped us create the stewardship component of this bigger Excellence in Education FOREST⇌FIRE project.

This three-year FOREST⇌FIRE program consists of multiple segments:

- Forest Health Field Days: in school field days for students to learn what healthy forests look like and how fire affects healthy and unhealthy forests. 2020's program was a virtual Forest Health Field Day offered to all 7th graders at North Tahoe High School and Alder Creek Middle School reaching 348 students.

- Stewardship Days: hands on learning, advocacy and community service is a cornerstone of SWEP's educational mission. These FOREST⇌FIRE stewardship days will get students out into the community to learn about creating defensible space while providing a community service to our local residents.

- In-Class Education- Fire Preparedness:

Ready, Set, Go: Lesson for 1-6th graders on how to create an evacuation plan and go bag for a mega-fire emergency.

- Interactive Art Exhibit in partnership with Nevada County Arts: a professional-grade traveling exhibit highlighting the importance healthy forests have in protecting our watershed and how healthy fire is an integral element of this relationship. This exhibit will start its journey at the Truckee Recreation Center. Learn more here

- Foundational Resources: these include a book and video to widen the audience and education on this important topic. The book will be offered to local classrooms and readings will be done at local libraries. The video is accessible for anyone to watch.

- In-Class Forest Fire Book Readings:

3rd graders throughout TTUSD experienced a lesson and book reading about Who Needs A Forest Fire. Learn more here.

-Classroom Field Trips to Art Exhibit:

SWEP offered interactive, educational field trips to 629 kindergarten, 3rd grade and 7th grade classes in the Spring of 2022. Students were able to experience first hand the power of history, art and science and how these elements can work together to solve a major problem, like catastrophic wildfire. Learn more here.

Our local students already know that protecting their forest is important. SWEP understands that it is our job to support our local students by providing the education and opportunities to take action to reduce our local catastrophic fire danger while also helping create healthy forests that can be enjoyed for generations. SWEP is grateful to Excellence in Education for funding this vital 3 year programming and to other partners that have helped make it all possible such as Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation and Nevada County Arts.

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