Kermit the Frog once said, “It’s not easy being green.” Well, he was right. Human development is rapidly destroying the wetlands and forests that local amphibians, reptiles and insects call home. But on the horizon there is a glimmer of hope.
Kids for Turtles Environmental Education is a volunteer group of kids and adults who are devoted to the restoration of animal habitat and the protection of our native reptiles and amphibians. Founded in 2006 by Bob Bowles, the organization sets out to engage children and their parents in nature and educate them on its preservation.
“A group of children biking down the road found these baby turtles. They put them into their baskets and moved them to the side of the road, saving them. One of the children contacted me asking, ‘Is there more we can do?’ I said, ‘Yes. We need to raise awareness,’” says Bowles. And thus began Kids for Turtles.
With their flagship chapter situated in Orillia, Ont., Bowles and his team spread awareness of the reptiles and amphibians in their area through live snake and turtle presentations in local schools. Since starting, they’ve also erected 100 turtle crossing signs and have led tree planting, garbage cleanup and invasive species education sessions. They also have weekend activities, such as snowshoe walks and birdhouse-building events. Enrollment has increased from 18 members to 250.
Which is a good sign, as Bowles feels that children and young families are spending too much time indoors. Kids for Turtles is a great way to start engaging and educating them in nature and the outdoors.
“Children are spending more time inside so they’re not connecting with nature,” says Bowles. He and the many volunteers in the troop work hard to come up with new ways of getting young people outside and in nature. Upcoming events include the Mariposa Butterfly Festival, which encourages growing a natural butterfly garden by your own backyard, and the Orillia Dragonfly Festival, which celebrates healthy aquatic ecosystems.
“I’d like to see this whole environmental education concept across Ontario so we can encourage the youth in better knowing the world around them,” says Bowles. He doesn’t see Kids for Turtles quitting their work anytime soon. In fact, they’re starting to look into funding so they can expand further, which is good news for the wetland creatures.
Being green just became a little easier.
Do you know a deserving youth organization that dares to care? Nominate them below to be profiled in an upcoming issue of Wildlife Update!
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