Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper

Faculty Mentor

Brittany Palmer


wildfire, cultural burning, prescribed burning, children's literature, Australia, fire ecology

Subject Categories

Early Childhood Education | Environmental Education | Illustration | Natural Resources and Conservation


The frequency and severity of wildfire has increased around the world within the past two decades, due to shifts in land management practices, climate change, and other factors. The effects of these fires have led to an inaccurate public perception of wildfire as a whole. This overly-simplified, vilified perception of all fire obscures the role that it has played in shaping landscapes for thousands of years, and how indigenous peoples have applied fire to take care of landscapes.

Positive public perception of using fire as a tool for land management creates a more supportive environment for healthy landscape management. Thus, we seek to empower future generations to better coexist with wildfire by changing this public perception through a children’s book. Our target audience is children who are in the third grade (ages eight to nine). This is an age where pictures are still impactful and nuanced concepts are also appropriate. In our children’s book, we work to address three main points: wildfire is a natural ecological process, wildfire is a place-based phenomenon, and wildfire can be used by people to curate landscapes through cultural and prescribed burns.

Since wildfire ecology is place specific, we used the western United States and Australia as our main settings to address these points due to the similarities they share in terms of their fire-adapted landscapes and management histories. In addition to conducting research on fire management practices, fire ecology, and how children learn, we interviewed wildfire experts who understand the fire regimes within these locations and incorporated their expertise into the narrative. The children’s book will be used to educate as well as entertain our target audience. Since children are the future fire managers, and will live with increased wildfire, their understanding of fire as a tool is vital to future management.

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project




© Copyright 2023 Elizabeth Riddle, Aubrey Frissell, Mackenzie Weiland, Katherine Wendeln, Rory McLaverty, and Lillian Hollibaugh