By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now
The National Audubon Society is kicking off the second year of its Pennies for the Planet campaign, which is supported by TogetherGreen. With a slogan of ‚ÄúBecause the planet needs some change,‚ÄĚ schools, clubs, groups, and families are encouraged to help threatened ecosystems and wildlife by simply collecting pennies (and nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars, too).
This year‚Äôs pennies will help protect three endangered U.S. coastlines:
Share Shoreline Habitat ‚Äď California‚Äôs Pacific Coast is home to lots of shorebirds, one of which is the Western Snowy Plover. Unfortunately, this bird is becoming more and more rare, because of the loss of habitat. There are only half as many nesting sites now as there were 40 years ago. Through the Pennies for the Planet campaign, signs will be made and posted along California beaches to educate visitors and encourage them to share the shoreline.
Save Coastal Marshland ‚Äď Louisiana is known for its many diverse ecosystems such as bayous and marshes. However, the marshlands in Louisiana are disappearing at a rate of 10,000 acres per year, faster than any other state. This is caused by people cutting canals, which changes the soil and water flow. Conservationists are working hard to reverse this damage and restore coastal marshland. Pennies will be used to purchase plugs of grass and other marsh plants which keep the new soil from being washed right back into the Gulf of Mexico.
Protect Panther Island ‚Äď Years ago, these 2,775 acres of Florida land were cow pastures and farm fields. It has now been restored back to its native habitats and become part of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Home to numerous wildlife, including endangered Florida panthers, wood storks, and gopher tortoises, Panther Island is still in need of the continued efforts to recover the marshland. Money raised will contribute to ongoing education programs, improving the area‚Äôs water quality, and the removal of invasive non-native plants.
Along with this eco-fundraiser, Audubon includes multiple environmental activities for kids of all ages; some include a nature scavenger hunt, designing an environmental advertisement, and making an eco-commercial.
There are several incentives for participating in this education and action campaign. Everyone that participates gets listed on the Pennies for the Planet Honor Roll. Based on the amount of money that is raised, you can win wristbands, buttons, bird clips, and gift certificates. The school that raises the most change by Earth Day receives the grand prize, a BioBash.
In 2008-2009, Pennies for the Planet raised $26,186.28. If you made a stack of the pennies raised last year, the pennies would stack higher than the Statue of Liberty. The money raised went to three different eco-projects South Carolina‚Äôs Four Holes Swamp, Maine‚Äôs Project Puffin, and Audubon Wyoming‚Äôs Sagebrush Sea.
Cara Krenzer, Student Council Advisor at Hooverville Elementary School in Pennsylvania, came across Pennies for the Planet last year. After talking with her students, they decided this campaign would not only be fun, but it would be a great way to give back to the environment.
‚ÄúWe decided to have a Penny War where each classroom was given a jug. The object was to collect as many pennies as they could. The catch however, was that other classrooms could put other denominations of money into your jug and all of this money would count against your classroom’s total (only pennies counted towards your classrooms positive amount of money). This event turned out to be wonderful! Students were bringing in jars of pennies that their parents were collecting for years. The mornings and afternoons were like war zones in the hallways where students would ‚Äėbomb‚Äô other classes with dollar bills, etc. In total we raised over $2000.00 to send to the Pennies for the Planet,‚ÄĚ said Krenzer.
Hooverville was awarded the grand prize, the BioBash. They had a bird presentation from Zoo America, scavenger hunts, and other eco-games and crafts that educated the students about the environmental projects they raised money to support.
‚ÄúBy far this project and Penny War was the easiest and most successful project our school has participated in. The students had a great time learning about and helping their environment and still show their caring for the environment through items they learned about last year,‚ÄĚ said Krenzer.
‚ÄúWe need to nurture tomorrow‚Äôs environmental leaders, and it is vital that we give children everywhere the chance to discover what it means to give back and to care for wild places in need of conservation attention,‚ÄĚ said Audubon President John Flicker in a statement. ‚ÄúPennies for the Planet links environmental education with environmental action, which we hope starts them on a lifelong journey toward conserving and stewardship in the future.‚ÄĚ
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