Thursday, August 9, 2012

1970s Woodsy Owl bookmark: "Give a Hoot! Don't Pollute."

This 1977 Woodsy Owl bookmark was tucked away inside a copy of the 1977 hardcover edition of "The Accoustical Foundations of Music" by John Backus.

Woodsy Owl was "born" in 1970 — the same year as me — as a creation of the United States Forest Service with the mission of helping children appreciate nature and learn about environmentalism.

Woodsy's most famous motto is the one featured on this bookmark: "Give a hoot! Don't pollute!"1

Here are some more Woodsy tidbits and links:
  • Woodsy was voiced by several different actors for commercials in the 1970s and 1980s. They included Sterling Holloway (the original voice of Winnie the Pooh), Barry Gordon and Frank Welker.2
  • Woodsy appeared in a series of Gold Key comic books from 1973 to 1976. You can see those covers on Comic Vine.
  • This December 2009 blog post by Jamie "Mad B-Logger" Lewis on Peeling Back the Bark discusses the role that the late Harold Bell played as one Woodsy's co-creators. The best part about the post, though, is the comments section. More than a half-dozen people claim that they first came up with the Woodsy character and the "Give a hoot!" slogan.
  • According to Woodsy's history page on the Forest Service website: "Woodsy's looks have changed to be more identifiable with children in the 1990s. He now sports a backpack, hiking shoes, and field pants — smart and safe for exploring the 'great outdoors.' Woodsy appears sportier, readyn [sic] to fly across forests and urban areas or lead children on nature hikes. Woodsy provides a new generation with a positive, enlightened introduction to a world in which we all work together to conserve."
  • On Don Markstein's Toonopedia, Woodsy is referred to as an "advertising spokestoon." Markstein has this to say about Woodsy:
    "Woodsy ... works hard at being insufferable, with his constant preaching about environmental degradation. ... At Gold Key, it almost became a schtick to show how annoying he was. He was constantly haranguing his neighbors, such as Mrs. Hare and Hot Lion; and while they'd give lip service while he was watching, they often backslid when he wasn't. His protege, Bitsy Owl, was on board with him, but often made naive mistakes, damaging the environment even while trying to help."
  • Woodsy's current motto is "Lend a Hand — Care for the Land!" (I like "Give a hoot!" better.)
  • You can follow @WoodsyOwl on Twitter. Woodsy is also on Facebook.
  • Finally, you can print out some Woodsy coloring sheets for your kids here.

1. Here are the complete lyrics to "Help Woodsy Spread the Word" from the United States Department of Agriculture:
"Help Woodsy spread the word, never be a dirty bird. No matter where you go, you can let some people know to Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute, never be a dirty bird. In the snow or on the sand, help keep America looking grand

"Help Woodsy spread the word, never be a dirty bird. No matter where you go, you can let some people know to Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute, never be a dirty bird. In the city or in the woods, help keep America looking good."
2. Frank Welker has had a famous and lucrative career in voice-acting. His most notable work has been with Scooby-Doo and Transformers. His vocal work for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" included the double-crossing Nazi monkey. Movies featuring Welker's work have grossed a combined $6.4 billion. Check out Welker's website for more fun stuff.


  1. The "modern" Woodsy is definitely creepy.

  2. SO awesome. And like most recognizable characters, the redux is always worse. If Woodsy ain't broke, don't fix 'em, I say! :D Great post! :D
    P.S. Don't forget - Frank Welker also did some wonderful Simpsons work, too:

  3. When I was in grade school I remember this contest. I also remember the girl who came with " Give a Hoot don't Pollute " her first name was Debbie..

    1. Do you remember what school she attended?

    2. Yes.....but her name was Sharmyne Paris and it was at Pleasant Hills elementary School in Cincinnati Ohio.

    3. I believe it was Marion Elementary in Belle Vernon, PA

  4. There was a boy at MY school, St Roberts Grade school in Shorewood, WI a suburb of Milwaukee who came up with that exact slogan for a contest several years BEFORE Earth Day 1970. Not sure if it was the same contest...

  5. A relative by marriage (my great aunt's nephew Barry) was the voice of Woodsy.

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  7. I could have sworn the following lyrics were in the Give a Hoot jingle that I remember from my childhood: "Give a hoot, don't pollute, let your outdoor manners show, help to stop pollution in the North South, East & West....the Nooorth Sooouth East & Weeeest! Hoot Hoot!" Does anyone else remember it this way? Or did I make up lyrics as a kid because I couldn't remember the original ones? :)

  8. I also entered the contest in 1970. My slogan was Give a hoot don’t pollute don’t be a dirty bird. I won the contest and received a ribbon and there was an article in the courier post. I was 12 and lived in Collingswood NJ.

    1. No it was Mary Jo Hemminger who won the slogan contest in 1970 in Bellingham, Wa. It was her.