Young people, as community members and future homeowners, can play a critical role in helping communities reduce the wildfire risk of homes by conducting Firewise Assessments. These assessments of a community are critical to planning and implementing mitigation to prevent homes from loss to wildfire. A community needs to know where its high-risk homes are, and what factors make those homes high risk. Many communities have very few paid staff, and do not have the resources to do an assessment. There is an untapped resource in every community - middle and high school students.
The Firewise in the Classroom Curriculum with JavaMaps project provides a unique, hands-on opportunity for students to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to assess the wildfire risk of their community and to educate their community on steps that can be taken to reduce that risk. The new, simplified curriculum uses an Internet based GIS Wildfire Risk Assessment process developed by the Minnesota Firewise Project. The curriculum has only five lessons that can be completed in as little as 5 class periods using Macintosh or PC computers. The curriculum is correlated to national and Minnesota Academic Standards in Geography and Science.
Through the Firewise in the Classroom Project, students gain content knowledge, apply new skills, are exposed to potential career paths, and provide valuable data to their community and state.
Firewise in the Classroom was a recipient of a 2006 National Council for Geographic Education / George F. Cram Award and a 2006 Governor's Commendation from the Minnesota Governor's Council on Geographic Information.
Firewise Communities Teacher Training and Technical Assistance available from:
Firewise school project schedule can be viewed by going to GIS 4 Schools
For more information on the Firewise program in Minnesota