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Monday, September 16, 2019

Concerned Moyer Students Present a Plan to Protect the Amazon Rainforest

Moyer students concerned about the rainforest took concrete steps to raise awareness and come up with a plan to help.

By Robin Gee

The environment was front and center at the September meeting of the Fort Thomas Independent Schools District board.

Moyer Principal Dawn Laber shared a story about how a very special new project got started at her school. She was in her office one day and was told a group of boys wanted to talk to her about something – but it was not what she expected.

"I’m waiting for a conflict I need to resolve or a problem that’s going on, but they said, 'We want to save the Amazon rainforest.'" After getting over her initial surprise, Laber asked the students if they had a plan and, indeed, they did.

"They had been talking about it," explained Laber. "They watched the news and were hearing about it from their families and took some passion to it ... I asked them some tough questions about their plan...They had to really think it through."

Stop searching. Start finding. 
Yet the students did exactly that and returned the next day with more ideas and answers to her questions. They were serious. When the principal asked over the loud speaker if those interested in the rainforest would come to her office, she saw the number of students interested had tripled. The students had already been talking about the issue to their friends and classmates.

Three of the students presented at the school board meeting and shared solid ideas about how they could help. They said they wanted to first make people aware of the issue, but then they had a plan to take their concern a step farther.

Henry W. outlined the problem. "Fires are burning the Amazon rainforest, and it’s an ecosystem the whole world depends on. And we really need it to live, it creates oxygen for us. And these are intentional fires. Nearly 1.8 million acres have been burned at this point in time," he said.

The students were passionate but realistic about what they could do to have an impact. "We just have one idea. We know we can’t fix the Amazon rainforest, but we thought we could create awareness so we could educate people and show the world the importance of working together to understand what happens when humans hurt the environment," explained Eli P.

The students created posters and are putting them all over school to share information on the importance and urgency of the situation.

"If something’s happening in our world, it’s happening to us all. I’m part of a small group of kids trying to make a big difference and protect our future. Just imagine, flames engulfing rich trees of the rainforest, creatures losing their homes and a great ball of smoke covering our atmosphere... The Amazon rainforest produces 20 percent of our oxygen and holds approximately 90 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Some people call it the lungs of our earth. Unique creatures live in the Amazon rainforest such as mountain gorillas, poison dart frogs and green anaconda. Due to the fire, these animals are becoming more endangered," said Chanith A.

"You might be wondering how a small group of kids supposed to do this? Well, we are taking a small step but hoping it will make a big difference in the future," he added.

The students have an ambitious plan to seek out help from the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy and their classmates and community. "Our proposal is that we think we should plant one tree for every thousand acres that has burned. We want to ask our school to donate seeds so the Conservancy, and we could plant more trees to help our environment. We’d like to see if they like this idea and listen to other ideas that might help us. We want to work with the Conservancy to help our community," said Henry.

At the end of their presentation, which they plan to also give to the Conservancy, they said in unison, "We know we are small, but we can make a big difference in our community."

Excellence in Environmental Education

Colleen Epperson was also in the audience at the school board meeting. She runs the AP Environmental Science program at Highlands High School as well as the school’s Envirothon team. Laber noted that one day soon, Epperson may have new students for her team when the Moyer group reaches high school.

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Epperson’s class and program recently received the state’s top honor for K-12 environmental education from the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education. She attributes earning the Excellence in Environmental Education Award to the longevity of the program and the Envirothon team, entering its 10th year this year.

She took the opportunity to share what the Envirothon is. "The team is five students who will compete against other schools across the state for the region in the areas of aquatics, wildlife, forestry, soils and a current event. This year’s current event has to do with water resources. They have to score 350 points to qualify for state. We’ve been qualified for state for a couple of years now."

Epperson also had the opportunity to visit the Amazon rainforest this summer. "I want to give a shout out to the school system because they were able to send me...and I brought back a plethora of opportunities and experiences for our students here at Highlands."

RELATED: Highlands Wins Award for Excellence in Environmental Education

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