Tiny Trailblazers: Advocates for the Earth

Each year, friends Tia James and Elizabeth Jessup sow sunflower seeds and tend them until they grow into vibrant plants. The 12-year-olds then sell the flowers at their annual school fair to raise money for their favorite charity, Earth Rangers. The organization provides children with the opportunity to protect animals, to improve the environment, and to make a difference by participating in a mission to Bring Back The Wild.

We caught up with Tia and Elizabeth, who live in Ontario, Canada, as they prepared to undertake their annual fundraising.

How did you hear about Earth Rangers?
Tia: I’ve always loved animals. I heard about Earth Rangers when I was seven years old, through a commercial that was playing on TV. I asked my mom if I could sign up and started fundraising because I wanted to save animals and give them a voice. Many people don’t realize they have feelings, too.

Elizabeth: I heard about Earth Rangers from Tia. Getting involved with them is fun, educational, and interesting. This year, the organization came to our school. I wanted to start fundraising for them because of my love of animals and the environment. I like that Earth Rangers is a kid-focused group.

What do you do to raise funds and awareness?
Tia: I’ve been an active ranger for the last few years. To raise funds, I put up lemonade stands in the summer and have been selling sunflowers at my school fair for four years with Elizabeth. At school, I pick topics like animal cruelty and endangered animals for my projects to help raise awareness.

Elizabeth: I’ve been involved with Earth Rangers for five years. For my tenth birthday, I had an Earth Rangers-themed party where my friends gave donations to Earth Rangers instead of presents. That same year, I also organised a garage sale to raise funds, and I collected $1,000 with the different initiatives.

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Tia (left) and Emma (right) hold up their sunflower sign in hopes of raising funds for Earth Rangers, their favorite charity. (Photo: Jo-Anne Jessup)

What do you hope to achieve with your efforts?
Tia: I hope to save innocent lives and help endangered animals. Last year, we picked the Western Screech Owl and donated $100 that we raised at the school fair towards the Earth Rangers’ Bring Back the Wild project. I stay motivated by remembering how much animals mean to me and how important they are to our ecosystem. If they were to disappear, it would make everything unbalanced.

Elizabeth: I hope to help save endangered species like the Western Screech Owl. It is a small, nocturnal owl that lives in old cottonwood trees along streams, rivers, and lakes. Unfortunately, researchers do not know how many of these owls are out there and how habitat loss has affected its population. Finding out how many of these owls there are and where they are found is an important step in conserving this species. The donations will help conduct night surveys of owl populations and allow researchers to learn how many Western Screech Owls are in the area.

How do you think you are making a difference?
Tia: I think I’m making a difference because every cent we make goes toward research on endangered species, repopulating species, and putting an end to things like poaching and habitat loss. It may not seem like a lot, but if every person donated at least one dollar, thousands of lives would be saved.

Elizabeth: I think my efforts make a difference because every little bit of money and awareness counts. As a kid, I feel involved in making a change for the future.