In the community

Vale student teams up with BLM to develop kids’ fire safety book

VALE—Grace Flynn, a Vale High School student, carries a sketchbook with her everywhere she goes and when she is out and about – waiting at the bus stop, standing in line, or not doing anything – she opens it up and starts drawing.  

“I’ve gone through multiple books,” she said. 

So when her former art teacher, Kacie Shaffer, heard the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Vale was looking to develop a fire safety coloring book for kids, Shaffer thought it might be ideal for Flynn’s senior project.  

Shaffer, who had Flynn in her class last year, said she always liked her work and saw how prolific she was, always with her sketchbook. 

That vigor and excitement is why Al Crouch, fire mitigation and education specialist with the Vale BLM, trusted his instincts in moving forward with the collaboration. He oversaw the project, the first of its kind for the local office. 

With one more slide to proofread, Crouch said the months-long project is coming to a close. After that, the final product will go to printing. 

Larisa Bogardus, public affairs officer with the Vale BLM, said the agency would print 10,000 copies using the BLM’s fire community assistance funds.

The book features scenes drawn by Flynn that show different fire safety and prevention educational tips for children. The book features fire safety icons Smokey Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog, the mascot for the National Fire Protection Association. The bureau will distribute the books throughout Oregon and Idaho in the spring and at fire prevention education events. Additionally, she said, copies will go to all the fire departments in the Snake River Valley Fire Association. 

Crouch said he would not have invested public dollars into printing a product if he did not think it was worthy of public consumption. 

He said Flynn’s excitement for the opportunity and dedication to see the project through made him feel good that she was the right person for the job. 

“The vigor that (Flynn) put behind accomplishing the project is what sold me,” Crouch said. 

 And when he saw Flynn’s first draft, he knew his instincts were spot on. 

“She’s got a good product here,” Crouch said. “And we worked at that.” 

Crouch said he and Flynn went through multiple drafts and revisions. He also said they had several sessions to arrive at a product they both liked. 

He said Flynn had “free rein” with the artwork for the most part. 

Nonetheless, Crouch said they communicated throughout the entire process.

While the quality of Flynn’s artwork will indeed resonate with kids, Crouch said the fact that kids will see that a high school student, a peer, supports the message of fire safety is invaluable. 

“It’s not coming from an adult,” Crouch said. “(The book) is coming from a teenager, a fellow student supporting the message and saying this is important.”

Flynn, who is getting used to the idea of 10,000 copies of a book with her name on the cover, said it is nice to have people appreciate her artwork, but at the same time, she does not like a lot of attention. However, she said having the project on her resume as she starts her career. This week, she was accepted at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg and hopes to get into the animation and illustration department and get into character design on movies and television shows. 

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