Give a Hoot! Don’t Pollute: Earth Day with Woodsy Owl

Since 1970, every April 22nd is recognized as Earth Day. The day is set aside to promote environmental protection and teach the public how to better care for the planet. This year to celebrate Earth Day, we wanted to share a fun jingle from U.S. Forest Service environmental icon, Woodsy Owl. The song is taken from a 1977 forest service educational film titled Help Woodsy Spread the Word. The musical film follows Woodsy Owl and his friend Mr. Music as they teach elementary school children how to recognize pollution problems and their solutions.

Clip from 95-General-94, Help Woodsy Spread the Word

Woodsy Owl was created in 1971 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service as an anti-pollution symbol. His catchy tag line, “Give a hoot; don’t pollute!” is still used today more than 50 years later to remind us to care for the planet. In addition to his tag line, the forest service also featured Woodsy in numerous educational films, several of which are in NARA’s motion picture holdings. The film Help Woodsy Spread the Word, is one part of a multimedia anti-pollution campaign featuring radio and television spots as well as posters, coloring sheets, book marks, decals and an environmental teacher’s kit.

The film’s main characters Woodsy Owl and Mr. Music were played by well-known actor Angelo Rossitto as Woodsy Owl and R&B singer Billy Newton-Davis as Mr. Music. It was written by forest service employee Betty Conrad Hite and directed by Jack B. Hively. Since the film was meant to be shown in schools, it was distributed with an educational pamphlet. The pamphlet includes information on Woodsy Owl, and provides teachers with related questions to ask students after viewing the film. A few scanned pages from the pamphlet are included below.

If you would like to view Help Woodsy Spread the Word in its entirety, it can be viewed below or on our YouTube channel.