Young activists raise money to save rainforests

THE WASHINGTON POST – Many people are learning about climate change thanks to Greta Thunberg. The Swedish teenager started Fridays for Future in 2018 by skipping school once a week to call people’s attention to our warming planet. In this case, skipping school is called a “strike”. Her actions launched a movement of school strikes around the world.

Lots of other kids – even those who are much younger – have figured out ways to help save the Earth. They’ve gotten involved in environmental causes close to their hearts. Some of them are inspired by the ‘30 by 30’ initiative: Fifty countries, including the United States (US), have promised to protect 30 per cent of Earth’s land and waters by 2030.

One of the kids is 11-year-old Beckett McGrath from Georgetown, Texas. He wants to help conserve endangered species. In 2019, he began working with Rainforest Trust. “I was really interested in trying to stop climate change,” he said.

Beckett’s idea was to start a group called Protection of Earth. With his homeschooled classmates and other kids, the group organised a local Run for the Rainforest that raised more than USD700. The money helped Rainforest Trust save more than 1,000 acres of rainforest land.

When the coronavirus pandemic stopped people from gathering in person to fundraise, Beckett put together an online event called Trivia for the Rainforest; People could log on and test their knowledge of birds, endangered species and climate change. That raised USD600 for rainforest land.

Beckett said kids should remember that every effort to help the environment matters. “Even if you don’t do a huge amount, it still is good to do stuff,” he said. Most important, he said, “human need to learn to be with nature”.

In Los Angeles, California, 10-year-old Justin Sather is obsessed with frogs. He called them “magical, because they come in different colours and they start out as tadpoles”.

Last year he joined Rainforest Trust’s Reserva: The Youth Land Trust to help protect 244 acres of Ecuador’s Chocó Cloud Forest and its amazing frogs. Justin especially likes glass frogs, chachi tree frogs and tiger-striped leaf frogs, which he hopes to see when he visits Ecuador this summer.

Beckett McGrath of Georgetown, Texas, started a group called Protection of Earth with his homeschooled classmates. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST