Thomas County Schools produced 19 local winners in the National Garden Club Smokey Bear/Woodsey Owl Poster Contest who will have their posters judged at the regional level in late February. What is now known as the Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl Poster Contest began as an initiative of the New Mexico State Garden Club in 1959. In 1994, the contest celebrated Smokey Bear’s 50th birthday under the name of the Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl Poster Contest. The contest became a national art competition inviting children to draw their interpretation of Smokey Bear and his wildfire prevention message or Woodsy Owl and his conservation message. Today, the Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl Poster Contest is an annual tradition amongst elementary schools, scout troops, and youth groups across the nation.