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Students Rally to Save a Rainforest

What can sixth-grade students teach us about conservation? If the students at St. Thomas School in Medina are any indication—a lot.

These kids can tell you about how trees store carbon, how rainforests help stabilize our atmosphere, and how important it is to work together to save rainforests.

“We’re running out of trees, so it’s important we give back and plant more trees,” said 12-year-old Kusiima.

Kusiima's class took the lead on a school fundraiser this spring that raised more than $3,000 for The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees Initiative, which is working to restore the Atlantic Rainforest on the coast of Brazil.

The Atlantic Rainforest is considered one of the world’s most endangered tropical forests. Development, agriculture and illegal logging have contributed to the decline of this incredible ecosystem. But students at St. Thomas are making a difference.

The student body voted to donate a portion of proceeds from their annual Walkathon to the Conservancy after listening to presentations given by the sixth grade class. “The 6th-graders stood in front of the whole community and gave a presentation of several charities,” teacher Andrew Mechling said. “At the end, they asked the school to cast votes by putting buttons in whatever box they supported the most."

The Conservancy won by a long shot, he said.

“The students have a real love for the environment, and I think that came through on their presentation more than other ones,” Andrew said. “For them, this rang true.”

The annual Walkathon brings together students in all grade levels, their parents and their teachers. In all, students walked 6,595 laps – or 1,649 miles. Ten percent of their proceeds from the event were donated to the Conservancy to plant trees in the Atlantic Rainforest.

The Nature Conservancy’s Plant A Billion Trees campaign aims to restore 1 million acres of land by planting 1 billion trees by 2015. This project has the potential to remove 4 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.

“It’s so easy, just $1 to plant a tree,” said MacKenzie, 12.

St. Thomas School presented the Conservancy with a check at a school assembly this month.

We sincerely thank the students for their generosity, leadership and support. It’s donors like you that make our work possible, and young people like you that give us hope for the future!
 

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