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Fire prevention virtual class occurs in Capitan

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The first living mascot of the Smokey Bear fire prevention campaign was a black bear cub rescued from the Capitan Gap Fire in 1950. (Submitted Photo)

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Students and teachers can participate today in a live-streamed class and virtual field trip about natural resource management, fire ecology and fire prevention.

The “Smokey Bear Live” class in the Capitan Mountains will stream starting at 11 a.m. and will involve educators and a communication specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, as well as elementary students and teachers from Capitan Municipal Schools.

The virtual field trip is part of the 75th anniversary of the Smokey Bear fire prevention educational campaign, and New Mexico has held a special part of that tradition ever since a black bear cub rescued from the Capitan Gap Fire in 1950 became the first living mascot for the campaign. He lived at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., but his burial occurred in 1975 in Capitan.

The class today will involve 25 Capitan students chosen by an essay contest to participate in discussions about fire prevention, both in nature and near residences, with Forest Service specialists.

Classrooms, home schools and educational sites around the world can join in the distance learning session via internet. For more information, lesson plans or classroom ideas, visit SmokeyBearLive.org.

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The project is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service; the Prince William Network, a distance learning organization in Virginia; the Prince William County Schools; New Mexico PBS; KRWG, a PBS affiliate from Las Cruces; KENW, a PBS affiliate associated with Eastern New Mexico University; and KOB4.