0710UNLfirepreventionteamaw.cfm Fire prevention team wins U.S. Forest Service Award
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Fire prevention team wins U.S. Forest Service Award


The Partners in Prevention received the national Silver Smokey Bear Award on May 15 at State Fire School in Grand Island.

The prestigious award honors an organization or individual who has made outstanding contributions to wildfire prevention in a multi-state area. It is sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters, the U.S. Forest Service and The Advertising Council.

Partners in Prevention is a volunteer group sponsored by the Nebraska Forest Service. The group comprises five volunteers who donate as many as 2,000 hours annually educating citizens and specialists in fire prevention. They are Mark Graf, Arapahoe; Stu Wilsman, Franklin; Rhonda Cerny, Linwood; Bill Fortune, Ogallala; and Linda Pasewalk, Emerson.

"They are dedicated to teaching fire prevention," said Bob Vogltance, fire resource manager for the Nebraska Forest Service who founded PIP in 2001. "They teach people how to use every resource in their community to spread the fire prevention message, and their programs are making an impact at the state and national levels."

Partners in Prevention was recognized for training and educating numerous prevention specialists in other states and sharing creative and innovative fire prevention methods. In 2008, PIP taught workshops in Colorado, Montana, Oregon and Washington, and taught a two-day class for fire prevention specialists from Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota and Kansas.

PIP also partnered with Affiliated Foods in Norfolk to distribute 5 million grocery bags with a fire prevention message through 900 stores in 13 Midwestern states.

In Nebraska, PIP worked with high school students to produce and distribute fire prevention materials to farmers and ranchers through its "Neighbor to Neighbor" program, collaborated on a fire prevention day camp at Ponca State Park, developed slogans and a poster for fire prevention awareness, created numerous public service announcements, and taught a 12-hour fire prevention class at the Nebraska State Fire School, which is attended by 2,000 people annually.

The Nebraska Forest Service is part of the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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