FireBright High School Curriculum

Wildfire impacts nearly every corner of the state of Oregon.

Historically, humans on this landscape have had various responses to wildfire, from the intentional setting of fires done by indigenous cultures to strict fire suppression and exclusion of the post-war era and beyond. As we have altered the way fire interacts with the landscape, we have started to understand what generations before us have: that this is a landscape dependent on wildfire; without wildfire, the forest, high desert, coastal, and grassland ecosystems that thrive in this beautiful state would not be able to persist.

We recognize that young adult students are active community members and future professionals and homeowners. Any effective, long-term strategy for community resilience in the face of wildfire must bring students into the conversation to help create a cultural awareness of our wildfire-adapted environment while giving some of those students career path opportunities. To this end, we have developed the FireBright Wildfire Curriculum consisting of five fully developed modules:

  1. Wildfire Risk: Living in the Era of Megafire.
  2. Fire Ecology: Forests in a Wildfire Prone Environment.
  3. Fire Behavior: Exploring Wildfire
  4. Career Pathways: Wildland Fire Fighting and Natural Resource Careers
  5. Community Protection: Protecting Your Community from Wildfire

Students learn about our fire-prone forests, wildfire behavior, and the skills needed for natural resources or wildfire risk management careers. They are empowered to help reduce fuels around their homes and help their communities come together to prepare for when, inevitably, a fire occurs.

Why a High School Curriculum on Wildfire?

This curriculum was designed specifically for high school students. High school students are well-positioned to take lessons from this curriculum and apply them in the near future as residents and voters. Helping students understand wildfire on the landscape today helps foster a foundational competency within the community on how to live with wildfire.

Additionally, the FireBright curriculum is also focused on giving tangible professional options to high school students who are determining their future careers. With wildfire and the need to manage our landscapes becoming more of an issue throughout the state, professions within all levels of wildland firefighting and natural resource management are more in demand than ever.
We have worked closely with teachers and there is much additional information available to further describe the modules, a list of the standards, examples, and suggestions for incorporation into natural resource and science programs.

Oregon state capital building

Firebright Wildfire Curriculum

Goals & Objectives

The overall goal of this curriculum is to provide Oregon high schools with engaging, standards- based lessons that build upon existing natural resource courses and provide students an understanding of the dynamics of wildfire in the state of Oregon, and how they can be a part of the effort of developing more wildfire resilient communities. Through these lessons, Students will be able to:

  • Recognize wildfire as both a natural process in Oregon and the increase in wildfire risk and severity have been over the years.
  • Understand the interdependency of local forest ecology on wildfire to survive and thrive.
  • Determine wildfire risks related to forest structure.
  • Describe the essential ingredients to start a fire.
  • Describe the factors that determine where a wildfire will move and with what intensity.
  • Describe what a healthy wildfire regime looks like from an environmental perspective
  • Describe what a healthy wildfire regime looks like from a community and economic perspective.
  • Explain scientific principles and economic constraints involved in managing wildfires.
  • Identify the roles of agencies, governments, and local fire districts in preparing for, mitigating risk, and suppressing wildfire.
  • Understand the qualifications required for a student wanting to start a profession in wildland firefighting.

  • Examine wildland firefighting and natural resource management career options.

  • Describe barriers to communities in wildfire-prone areas to preparing for wildfire.

  • Identify actions they can take to help ensure the fire resiliency of their communities.

For Educators: How to Use the Curriculum

FireBright high school curriculum provides a set of lesson plans, resources, and tools designed to help students gain a deep understanding of Oregon forests and wildfires. Classroom and field activities enable students to learn about the occupational fields of wildland firefighting and natural resource management in Oregon and how to build community fire resilience.

The curriculum is divided into five modules, and each module contains from 1 to 7 distinct classes, although teachers may wish to break up or meld together classes to fit their school schedules. The first module provides a general overview of the wildfire situation in Oregon, the second two focus on the academic material behind healthy forests and wildfire, and the last two focus on career paths and community options for resilience. While it is structured to span a school year, with each subsequent module building upon the last, teachers may select lessons from each module to fit the needs of their educational program. Each module and/or lesson may be delivered alone or done in the order that instructors choose.

Oregon state capital building

Partners and Status:

This work is based on a USDA funded Landscape Scale Restoration grant that included the following partners:

  • Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF)
  • Oregon State University, Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center
  • Southern Oregon Forest Restoration Collaborative
  • Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI)
  • Keep Oregon Green (KOG)
  • Collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management, Medford District Office and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

The project is in the final phases of demonstration in high schools in southern Oregon. Teacher training, a video, and evaluation will complete the project by the end of next year. The curriculum will be available to schools throughout Oregon at that time.

For more information on the FireBright wildfire curriculum, please contact us or join our newsletter for project updates.