News Releases

Student videos teach Floridians to be ‘bear smart’

News Release

Friday, December 16, 2011

Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291

The challenge to high school students was unusual: Produce a one-minute video encouraging people to conserve Florida black bears and take appropriate precautions when living around bears. The response was enthusiastic: Individuals and media classes from 10 high schools applied their creative thinking to the conservation of Florida black bears, which have made a comeback from about 300 in the 1970s to about 3,000 today.

Students submitted 17 videos they scripted, filmed and edited for the Florida Black Bear Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Today, the FWC announces the grand prize winner of the PSA contest. It is Justin Burt, a student at Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee, who was also the Northwest Region winner. His "Be Bear Aware" video can be viewed at

"We looked to high school students as a great source of creativity to get out the message about Florida black bears," said Dave Telesco, the FWC's bear management program coordinator. "Students rose to the occasion and produced 17 'bear smart' videos for our PSA contest. The FWC is pleased that so many young people got involved and worked hard to teach Floridians how to conserve and be safe around black bears," Telesco said.

The four other regional winners of the PSA contest are:

  • Belleview High School media class in Belleview (Northeast Region);
  • Lakewood Ranch High School media class in Bradenton (Southwest Region);
  • South Tech Academy media class in Boynton Beach (South Region); and
  • Williston High School agricultural sales class in Williston (North Central Region).

Their videos will be uploaded to Additional video entries may be released at a later date.

The students and classes will receive prizes for their winning PSA entries. FWC Community Relations Office staff from across the state judged the videos based on their professional quality, accuracy of information and appeal to viewers.

The contest began in May, and its original deadline was extended through November.

For more information about Florida black bears, visit

FWC Facts:
The Junior Hunter Safety Program offers a series of 3 free courses for grades K-5, providing information on firearm safety, outdoor ethics and conservation.

Learn More at AskFWC