He debuted in 1974, as a friend of Smokey Bear. Woodsy had huge creepy eyes, and a wacky Robin Hood-like suit. He was on a mission to help us fight pollution. His slogan was "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute!"

He also had a song, more like a jingle:

"Never be a dirty bird in the city, or in the woods,
help keep America looking good *HOOT HOOT*"

The goal was to get the country clean in time for the bicentennial.

My own memories of Woodsy Owl are vague, since I left the States when I was five. I remember I was the proud owner of what I think is called a random dot stereogram badge that depicted Woody on the front smiling and bubbling “Give a Hoot - Don’t Pollute!”. The phrase has stuck with me throughout my life, probably more for the fact that my mother loves to blurt it out as soon she sees me do anything slightly ungreen. For some reason this morning his words popped into my head and much to my surprise I found out Woodsy is still around with a new improved image (not as cuddly in my mind, but the years may have blurred the edges of my memory).

Woodsy’s life to date

Created in 1971 by the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service with the purpose of cleaning up the environment by motivating youngsters and parents to be more aware of the effects their behaviour had on our world. Woodsy is not alone is this monumental task, luckily he has his mentor and friend Smokey Bear to teach him the ropes and how to get his message across. This is a lesson Smokey knows well since he has been protecting the forests of America from forest fires for over fifty years now.

To celebrate Earth Day of 1997 (April the 22nd) Woodsy had a re-vamp and emerged into the spotlight again with a new image, ready to tutor a new generation. Complete with a backpack, hiking boots and field shorts Woodsy joined forces with the Children’s Television Workshop as well as the State Foresters and the National Forest Foundation to in their words “fly into children’s lives”. With his eternally wise expression and kind words Woodsy instructs us now to “Lend a hand - Care for the land”. In his flights over the United States he shows the children how they can be involved in the world and how much fun it is to have a healthy country. He still occasionally reminds us of the original “Give a Hoot - Don’t Pollute” with ideas on how to “recycle, renew and reuse”. His new sports gear enables him to effortlessly take children for hikes and adventures opening their eyes to the wonder of nature.

Woodsy is a part of the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service and is a protected symbol under Public Law 93-318.


The new song (I am not sure if the one Juliet mentioned is still part of the official campaign or not) goes like so:

Woodsy Owl gonna help us see
Look all a-round look what we can be
O-pen your eyes
Caring for the land that is yours and mine
O-pen your eyes
Come lend a hand
Care for the land

Written by Gerad McMahon

The Spanish version is in the works.

http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/woodsy/ - and related links
My mother yabbering away at me about American culture.

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