Generations’ working together is a great way to foster relationships and develop social capital; and for the past five years students in one eastern Texas community have become intergenerational teachers, leading their community into achieving Firewise Communities/USA status.
Students at the Etoile School in Etoile, TX have embraced teaching adults and their peers about wildfire risks and they’ve taken active roles in a wide-range of related activities. As the only school in an 80-square mile school district, located in the Angelina National Forest on the end of Lake Sam Rayburn, the nearly 150 students in Pre-K to 8th grade have been committed to performing education and mitigation tasks typically done by adults.
They’ve raised community awareness, changed attitudes, conducted on-the-ground projects, clean-up days, and participated as advisory board members. From clearing leaves and debris at the home of elderly residents, to working with their families to create defensible space, the kids have proven they are capable and worthy of leading efforts that have significant impact on their community’s ability to survive a wildfire.
An in-depth report on the Etoile, TX Firewise program and the work that’s been done by an amazing group of young students can be accessed through the USDA Forest Service at http://nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/42536.