SALT Speakers Series on Smokey Bear still going strong at 75

Tonto National Forest spokeswoman Carrie Templin introduces Smokey Bear at a 2016 event. (Richard H. Dyer, Independent Newsmedia)

The March 27 SALT Speakers Series features Bec Veerman of Tonto National Forest. Her presentation will honor Smokey Bear, 75 this year.

“Many only know Smokey from posters, but generations have grown up with him – both the original creation as well as the real-life bear,” according to a release.

Ms. Veerman will cover how and why Smokey was created, who he’s worked with as well as the deeper meaning behind his famous quote “remember…only you can prevent wildfires.”

“There’s a lot more to Smokey than meets the eye, which is why he is America’s favorite bear and a national treasure,” according to the release.

Ms. Veerman’s SALT Speakers Series presentation will be 6:30-7:30 p.m. March 27 in Room B-114 of the Apache Junction Multi-generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road.

The series is co-sponsored by the Superstition Area Land Trust and the Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department. The SALT Series is offered every second and fourth Wednesday October-April, is free and is geared for the public. SALT is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Go to

Ms. Veerman grew up outside Chicago. Following high school she spent three years in Australia and England, and visited other European and Asian countries. A cold, wet English winter prompted a move to hot, dry Phoenix, where she fell in love with Superstition Mountain and the rest of the Sonoran Desert, which led her to ASU to study ecological restoration. Her degree is in natural resource management, with an emphasis on rangeland management, according to the release.

She started working for the Forest Service as a senior at ASU. Four years later she was hired permanently — initially for a year in Colorado, then a year in nearby Tonto Basin and now as zone partnership liaison for the Mesa Ranger District.

“I’ve always had a passion for  community involvement and events,” she said in the release.  “So this position has allowed me to combine all the things I love.  While I’m still fine tuning a lot of it, I’m excited to continue to reach out and work with people from all over, with all different interests.”

“One thing Bec feels she has learned is that America has something not found anywhere else — we have these huge, wide-open spaces, owned by the public and protected for the future of our nation.  She feels they are our nation’s most valuable resource and should be our greatest treasure,” according to the release.

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