Can Today’s Youth Save Rhinos? You Bet They Can

Back in March of 2015, we here at OMG received an email from a teacher (Mrs. Mary Eanes) at Hartly Elementary School in Hartly, Delaware, stating that her students learned about my brother and me and all the work we were doing to save animals.

img_1273Mrs. Eanes told us that her 3rd- grade class was so impressed with what we had accomplished and she just wanted to let us know. My brother and I were so moved by her comments and by the students’ enthusiasm that we decided to Skype with them to say thanks!

The Skype call was amazing, and during the call one of the students said they would like to help out OMG by collecting enough pocket change to equal the weight of a rhino.

Seriously . . . that is like 6,000 pounds’ worth of coins!

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park was home to two white rhinos: Angalifu and Nola. (I’m not sure which one is depicted here.) Angalifu died in 2014, and Nola died on November 22. Only three northern white rhinos remain. Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic

Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic

With that, the Hartly students spent the rest of the school year hosting one awareness campaign after another.

Students-ArtworkThe campaign started in that small classroom of about 30 students, and quickly spread through the entire school and even throughout the school district. The students hosted bake sales, art auctions and even a rhino-themed game called ‘Hungry Hungry Rhino’—anything they could think of to raise awareness and funds to help us save rhinos.

Dover-News-Story-page-1The efforts of the students didn’t go unnoticed, either; local press ran numerous stories about the hard work and commitment of the students, and more importantly how Mrs. Eanes was teaching the students to use their critical thinking skills to solve global problems. Towards the end of the school year, my brother and I Skyped again with the class to thank them for all they had been doing and we surprised them by telling them we would personally drive all the way to Delaware to meet them after their summer break.

Toward the end of the school year, my brother and I Skyped again with the class to thank them for all they had been doing and we surprised them by telling them we would personally drive all the way to Delaware to meet them after their summer break.

At the end of September, my dad and I drove 14 hours up to Hartly and visited with the students. Since the students had worked so hard all year and created so much awareness to what is happening to rhinos, we decided to bring them a present that they could keep forever. We had received a life-sized papier-mâché rhino named Elvis from another school about a year earlier so we hooked up a trailer to the OMG van and brought Elvis with us!OMG_9919-copy

OMG_9972-copyDuring our visit, we hosted an ice cream party for Mrs. Eanes 3rd- grade class and gave a presentation to the entire school. At the presentation, they presented us with a check for more than $3,200 and they have since added almost another $1,000 to their total. All from collecting pocket change. Never underestimate the power of kids!

There were so many people involved in this campaign who went above and beyond, and I am sure I am missing lots of them, but here are the names of just a few who really stood out: School Principal Mrs Tammy Augustus, our “Teacher of the Year” Mrs. Mary Eanes, Abigail Badman, Olivia Morand, Zachary Williamson, Dominic Scaffidi, Alexis Santiago, Ezra Johnson, Luke VanOrden, and Tania Braxton. We hope this story will inspire other kids to get involved with something they are passionate about and that it will also inspire more teachers to be like Mrs. Eanes and allow their students to “think outside the box” and show us all how great they really are.

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Olivia Ries is our National Geographic Education and Children’s Media Youth Empowerment writer. Together with her brother Carter, she hopes to inspire others to realize that “Anybody can make a difference… if they can, you can too“.  Make sure to check out their website at OneMoreGeneration.org

One response to “Can Today’s Youth Save Rhinos? You Bet They Can

  1. This changed my life, as a rhino enthusiast I am charmed to see people trying to help my kind

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