LINCOLN COUNTY, N.M. (KRDO) -- Tuesday, Aug. 9, outdoor lovers big and small are invited to celebrate Smokey Bear's 78th birthday virtually.
The concept of Smokey Bear was born on Aug. 9, 1944, when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service and the Ad Council made a fictional bear named Smokey the symbol for forest fire prevention.
According to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), artist Albert Staehle painted the first poster of Smokey Bear pouring a bucket of water on a campfire and saying "Care will prevent 9 out of 10 fires."
In the next few years, firefighters found a young bear cub badly burned from a forest fire in the Captain Mountains of New Mexico. According to the USFS, the firefighters were so moved by the bear's bravery and gave him the name Smokey, making him the official Smokey Bear.
Now, 78 years later, the legacy of Smokey Bear lives on as a symbol of wildfire prevention.
Tuesday, creator and host of Travels with Darley on PBS Darley Newman and representatives of the USDA Forest Service are hosting a virtual birthday party for Smokey Bear.
To join in the festivities, stream the celebration on Smokey Bear's Facebook at 1 p.m. MST.
According to officials, wildfire prevention remains one of the most critical issues affecting America. Smokey's message is considered as relevant and urgent today as it was in 1944.
To learn more about Smokey Bear, including informational handouts specifically designed for children and classrooms, click here.