Cornerstone Classrooms Get a Visit from Sammy Sturgeon


4-26-2011 Cornerstone Classrooms Get a Visit from Sammy Sturgeon

For Immediate Release
September 18, 2020
Contact: Kevin Liska



Program features Sammy Sturgeon safety mascot

Putnam, Tenn. — On Apr 26, students at CORNERSTONE MIDDLE SCHOOL received a visit from a very special guest. Sammy Sturgeon, Tennessee’s "Buckle Up in Your Truck" mascot, visited the school to encourage students to learn outdoors, discover green careers, practice good conservation, and “Buckle Up In Your Truck” on the way.

Sammy was joined by several volunteers ranging from Tennessee Wildlife and Resource Agency (TWRA) representatives to volunteers from different career fields including conservationists and scientists. The TWRA representative and Sammy taught the students about preserving the wildlife and staying safe while being outdoors. The “green job” volunteer relayed important job information to the students about how they benefit from job opportunities outdoors.

"This is a great program, we need our students to know that learning outdoors has many benefits and can lead to improved environmental sensitivity, critical for future generations. When the students are exposed to green careers , and conservation, they get excited about the outdoors and want to learn more," said Kathleen Airhart, Putnam County School Superintendent.

Sammy Sturgeon’s message is to learn and work outdoors but “Buckle Up in Your Truck” on your way. The program incorporates seat belt safety because automotive accidents are the number one cause of serious injuries and deaths among children under 18. "These kids have grown up with Ollie Otter and know about seat belts. Sammy Sturgeon keeps the message alive," said Kevin Liska, Director of the TTU Business Media Center.

With the popularity of pickup trucks, especially in the South, a large percentage of fatalities take place in trucks. With the “Buckle Up In Your Truck” initiative, middle school aged children will be taught how crucial it is to buckle their seat belt every time they are in the vehicle. According to the Governors Highway Safety Office, safety belt use ranges from 5-10 percentage points lower in pickups. The “Buckle Up in Your Truck” campaign is designed to convince pickup occupants to protect themselves from traffic injuries and death by wearing their safety belts regularly. Safety belts reduce the risk of dying in a rollover crash by up to 80%.

The program is sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, Governors Highway Safety Office, and Tennessee Tech University.

The Sammy Sturgeon program utilizes volunteers like wildlife officers, park rangers, collegiate scientists and other groups. Volunteers with jobs in the TWRA and associated “green jobs” offer answers to questions that students ask and insight to their job and how they enjoy the outdoors.

The Sammy Sturgeon program uses educational materials, such as posters, bookmarks and an interactive website, to inform Tennessee middle school students and their caregivers about seat belt safety and learning outdoors. Students are engaged by entering a poster contest marketing Sammy Sturgeon as a "Buckle Up in Your Truck" mascot. Students learn the value of marketing in public service campaigns. In addition, students can enter an essay contest answering questions like, "Why I want to be a Biologist".

Sammy’s website helps teachers share their outdoor learning strategies and experiences. In correlation with Facebook, teachers can show others how they have helped their students learn about the outdoors. "Sammy the Sturgeon's classroom visits inspire kids to get outdoors, learn about conservation, and practice good safety habits, " said Don King, TWRA Chief of Information & Education.

New federal legislation has been introduced in 2010 to encourage children to learn and play outdoors, synonymous with Sammy’s message. Senate Joint Resolution 705 states, "Scientific research shows that children are increasingly distant from nature. Scientists have discovered that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual development".

Tennessee Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights is a list of experiences from which every child in Tennessee would benefit and that every child before entering high school should have the opportunity to experience. Every child should be able to experience walking in the woods, playing outside, camping under the stars, learning to swim, climbing a tree, watching wildlife, going fishing, growing a garden, flying a kite, splashing in the water, and visiting a farm. The program is developed and marketed by Tennessee Tech's Business Media Center. The Center has been involved in many award winning public service campaigns including; Ollie Otter, the nation's first statewide seat belt safety education campaign; Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, TBR's Ready2Teach and ROCC campaigns.

To sign up as a volunteer, schedule a school visit from Sammy, or learn more about Tennessee’s seat belt safety campaign, visit

Scheduled event: 8:30 am Cornerstone Middle School, Putnam County

Sammy the Sturgeon's Get Outdoors & Buckle Up in Your Truck Program developed and maintained in conjunction with:
Tennessee Tech UniversityTennessee Wildlife Resources AgencyGovernor's Highway Safety OfficeTennessee Department of SafetyTennessee Coordinated School Health