River Robson is 6 years old and has just completed his first mission as an Earth Ranger.
The Earth Rangers website describes the organization’s vision as such: “We all get busy and forget how our daily actions affect the world around us. We forget that, while important, we’re just one part of a huge ecosystem. Children don’t—they’re passionate about protecting life on earth. When they learn how their behaviours can help, they don’t ignore them, they act. Earth Rangers provides children with the opportunity to protect animals, to improve the environment and to make a difference.” This is exactly what has inspired young River to launch his own initiative to help.
Earth Rangers has “Bring Back the Wild” fundraising campaigns that educate children about animals whose existence is currently threatened and encourages them to raise money to donate towards preserving as well as strengthening the habitats that these animals live in. When River Robson learned that the American badger was an endangered species, he immediately went to his parents wanting to raise money to help them. Why? He explains, “because it’s one of the bravest animals and the smartest one and I saw a video [saying that they were] dying”.
River decided to sell cookies to raise money and, his parents helped to spread the word about his initiative through social media. They created a private Facebook group called “River’s Cookies to Save the American Badger” and invited all of the people who ordered cookies to be a part of it so that they could remain informed about the process.
River started out with the modest goal of raising $20 to donate to saving the American badger. As he set to work with his cookie campaign, he allotted some of his own savings towards buying the ingredients and set out baking. His father, Jimmy, explains, “It was [River’s] initiative and we told him we would do what we needed to help him”. They got plenty of orders and so spread their baking out over several weekends. By the time the campaign concluded, they had baked 40 dozen cookies and personally delivered them to everyone. By the end, River had raised twelve times his initial goal with funds reaching a total of $240.
As River sat beside him contently drawing a picture of an American badger, his father explained how he and his wife feel about the initiative: “Very proud! We always try to teach [our kids] that kindness is the most important thing in the world and he has it naturally. He approaches us with these things a lot.”
By the time the money was raised, the campaign for the American badger had officially been closed on the website since they moved on to other animals (River eagerly lists off the new animal campaigns Earth Rangers is promoting). However, upon hearing about River’s hard work, Earth Ranger officials have promised that the money will be donated towards saving the American badger. River is currently on a high from the success of his first campaign and eager to get started with another. He explains how he is going to do another one to save the Eastern Wolf. Though his father tries hard to help him manage his expectations explaining that you can’t continuously be asking people for money so he may have to wait a little while before embarking on another endeavor, River is adamant in his determination to help save more animals.
The American Badger
The American badger is distinguishable by the distinct black and white markings it has on its head. It is a relative of the weasel family and has sharp claws and immense strength which help when it is burrowing for its prey. There are four subspecies of the animal in North America and they live in open grassland areas.
Earth Rangers mission to protect the American Badger
Earth Rangers has partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect the American Badger. Their approach to it is three-fold: Education, earth moving and finding the badger. They are helping to raise awareness about the endangered species through education. With earth moving they are creating sand ridges and natural corridors for the badgers to roam more freely (with so much land being developed, it’s often hard for them to find places to build their dens). It is also helping researchers learn more about badgers by tracking them thus helping them learn more about the current distribution of badgers and their habitat which improves their ability to help them.