MINNESOTA – USDA Forest Service staff from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Urban Connections program, Chippewa National Forest and State and Private Forestry shared information about wildfire prevention, invasive species, recreational opportunities on public lands and the importance of trees with over 20,000 people at the Government on Display event at the Mall of America. Visitors were able to check out Forest Service public service announcements around It’s All Yours and tips on how to enjoy a safe summer cookout on the large screen of the rotunda.
The annual event, hosted by the Federal Executive Board, takes place in the rotunda of the Mall of America and showcases the work of various agencies in the federal government. This year, 20 agencies were on hand to display their work and offer hands-on learning to visitors.
The Forest Service’s theme for its booth this year was Smokey Bear and a celebration of his 75th Birthday. The over 500 visitors brought a wide range of experience with national forests from beginner to expert. Participants took part in interactive displays, such as a wheel that would spin and land on questions about fire safety such as “What are two things you should always have by your campfire?” They also had an opportunity to try their hand at Smokey Bear trivia and share personal insights around the open-ended question “Why are trees important to you?” On hand to answer questions was a range of Forest Service staff including an entomologist, an Urban Connections program specialist, a land management planner and a visitor information specialist.
The Government on Display event is one of dozens of events the Forest Service’s Urban Connections staff participate in each year. The Forest Service Eastern Region’s Urban Connections Program has program specialists stationed in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Detroit and Boston, where they work to connect communities to nature, especially in their urban, community and national forests.