Etoile in eastern Texas is the kind of small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. There are vast Loblolly pine forests and the Etoile School is the only school in the 80 square mile school district.
The area in and around the community has been plagued with prolonged droughts and extended bans on trash burning. There is no garbage pickup nor is there a close-by landfill to dispose waste. So household debris gets accumulated around homes, thereby created a fire hazard.
In 2008, recognizing the wildfire threat, a Texas Forest Service (TFS) employee chose to educate Etoile School on what it means to be Firewise. The school administration fully supported and encouraged involving students in the program.
To become Firewise recognized, the Firewise Communities are required to have an advisory board and complete an annual project to reduce wildfire risk. Even though typically adults are the ones who do this, the tasks were designed so that the students could help organize and complete the program. Soon after, Etoile became the first community in the country where students were the ones who put in most of the effort to obtain and renew its national Firewise Communities status.
Read the rest of their journey on their success page.
The students of Etoile continue to educate their neighbors and peers on the dangers of wildfires and even go out into the community to clean up debris.
There are other communities in Texas who have equally interesting backstories. Read all about them on their individual success page!