Smokey Bear learns Russian
For the first time in the Pacific Northwest, Smokey Bear is fluent in Russian thanks to a partnership between the local Slavic community and U.S. Forest Service.
Slavic Community Center, a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of the Slavic people who call the Portland region home, will spread the Forest Service's messages through its monthly magazine, radio stations and video streams that are distributed via social media.
"We want everyone to know these forest lands are for them," said Glenn Casamassa, Pacific Northwest regional forester.
The official partnership began Wednesday afternoon, July 17, at Slavic Family Radio, 17229 S.E. Division St.
"Today we are bringing awareness to our community about proper forest management," said Nick Pechenik, executive director of Slavic Community Center.
Slavic Community Center has formed partnerships with other groups, but this is the first time they are working with a Federal organization.
"For us this is a historic moment," said Timur Holove, creative director with Slavic Community Center. "This will motivate the Slavic community to enjoy the natural resources and programs their tax dollars are supporting."
An informal agreement between the two groups began in the wake of the Eagle Creek Fire. They worked together to film segments of the burn areas and spread fire safety awareness throughout the Slavic community.
"We need to be able to educate people here about the laws and requirements of being in the forest," Holove said.
The one-year partnership will allow the Forest Service to better communicate with a large group of people. Slavic Community Center will pass along messaging about proper forest practices, as well as events and opportunities for families to get out into nature. The group will also ensure Forest Service messages are properly translated into Russian and Ukrainian.
"The Forest Service is committed to shared stewardship," Casamassa said. "This agreement today is another step forward and a great opportunity for not only this generation but future generations."
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