A proud father shares the story of how his son was moved to support CI and rainforest conservation.
I am the father of a 9-year-old boy named Stone. Like most parents, I am extremely proud of my child and dream of him achieving all the things in life that he wants to achieve. This past summer, his mother and I took Stone to the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, one of his favorite places. He has been into wildlife, particularly birds, for some time.
On this particular visit we went to the snakes and lizards exhibit. It was a great day, and we bought him a video about the rainforests when we left. We took it home and watched it with his friend, Cal. We had expected a film that showcased the birds and wildlife of the rainforest; instead, the video took a rather hard-hitting look at deforestation and its effects on the planet.
Well, this fired up the boys! They took great exception to the damage that people can do to these fragile habitats, and decided to do something about it immediately. I looked up Conservation International’s website and found their Protect an Acre program. I let the boys know about it, and from there they took over.
We made a poster requesting that people contribute to a “save the rainforest’ campaign, and set up a small stand outside the house to collect money. Their goal was to collect $375. Stone went door to door and within about 20 minutes already had $93. Inspired, the boys set up a table in downtown Mill Valley, California for two days. They asked relatives and friends. They reached and surpassed their goal!
We contacted their teacher thinking this would be an excellent project and worthwhile sharing with her class of third graders, and she agreed. The boys did a fantastic job of presenting the rainforest, its value and the implications of its loss, along with a call to action to their classmates. The response was overwhelming; every kid in the class said that they wanted to help raise money and awareness. Some would enlist their Cub Scout and Indian Princess troops; others contributed with their own money.
The boys now have over $400 and have pledged it to CI to protect 25 acres. Their fundraising efforts and class involvement continues.
As parents, we are very proud of their efforts, and their determination to conserve the rainforest. This doesn’t appear to be a passing fancy, but the beginning of a lifelong understanding of land stewardship. Hopefully there are many others like them out there.
Tom Shepard is a partner in a marketing and entertainment agency, and a board member of the Student Conservation Association. Stone Shepard and Cal Deam are third graders at Old Mill Elementary School in Mill Valley, California.