By Claire Hood, USFWS
The threats that face wildlife are often global in scale—poaching, habitat destruction, disease, and climate change, to name a few.
While these problems may seem overwhelming, each person can make a difference in helping to conserve plants and animals, including kids. Over the last several months, the International Affairs Program has heard from children across the country.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Assistant Director of International Affairs, Bryan Arroyo, meets with Josiah Utsch, co-founder of www.savethenautilus.com, to thank him for his conservation work. (Photo: USFWS)
In March, we led the United States delegation and traveled to the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok, Thailand.
As the meeting began, delegates from around the world were acutely aware that we were in the midst of an elephant poaching crisis and that decisive action was needed.
But, we certainly weren’t the only ones that were aware of this plight. During the past few months, we've received some fantastic artwork from schools in Maryland, urging us to stand up for elephant conservation.
We've also had a visit from two young conservationists. Josiah Utsch and Ridgely Kelly, two ambitious 12-year olds from Portland, Maine, started a website after reading about the chambered nautilus in an October 2011 New York Times article, Loving the Chambered Nautilus to Death, which discussed our work to investigate the international trade and conservation status of the chambered nautilus.
As part of their "Save the Nautilus" campaign, Josiah and Ridgely sell home-made items ranging from original design t-shirts to notecards, to raise funds for nautilus conservation. Friends also sell items, with a percentage of the proceeds going to nautilus conservation. As of April 2013, “Save the Nautilus” has raised $9,000!
On April 18, Josiah Utsch was in Washington D.C. with his family. To recognize Josiah's inspiring efforts to conserve the nautilus, Smithsonian's National Zoo hosted a behind-the-scenes tour for Josiah, his family, and representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Service's International Affairs program.
These kids’ efforts show just how much young people can do to save wildlife. Whether it’s by creating artwork or designing a t-shirt, anyone can make a difference.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, visit our Conservation Kids page to try out some fun conservation activities that you can play at home or school. And, be sure to visit our How You Can Help page to see what else can be done to ensure our world’s plants and animals are protected.
Claire Hood is an Outreach Assistant in the Wildlife Trade and Conservation Branch of the Service's International Affairs Program