Fourth graders at Westwood Elementary School are advocating that you are never too young to begin thinking about conservation as the five classes have raised $576.86 for the purpose of saving endangered wildlife.
The project, “Pennies for Polar Bears”, ran a week in duration as students in each class vied for homeroom bragging rights to see which classroom could raise the most funds for the purpose of saving an endangered species. Originally, teachers had set an ultimate goal of only $100 but in only the span of one school week the students had more than surpassed their goal. A contribution of $25 is necessary to save just one polar bear.
At the conclusion of each school day, students would count and roll the loose change into coin rolls. Fourth grade teacher Vickie Flanagan explained that by handling and collecting money, students were also able to gain some “real world” and practical life experience.
“We love helping our environment out and we of course love the real world application that the project provides for our students as well,” Flanagan said. “Handling and counting money is a real life skill they will need to be successful in the future.”
Flanagan also explained that the fundraiser was competitive at times as some students brought in as much as $20 at a time to donate to the cause. The fundraising competition went beyond dollar signs, Flanagan explained, as students were also able to better understand the importance of conservation and protecting endangered species.
“None of this could have happened without their dedication,” Flanagan said. “The key in this situation is for the kids to see that they can make a difference at any age.”
The project itself is actually a service learning project, one that is coordinated with the assistance of Kim Van Noy, a student teacher currently attending Appalachian State University. Van Noy stated that she has always been fascinated by the polar bears and thought it would be an appropriate subject matter to be incorporated into a student lesson plan on global warming. After visiting World Wildlife Foundation’s Website, Flanagan and Van Noy noticed a link to adopt an animal or an endangered species. The money that is donated to the Website will go toward the research and protection of polar bears and endangered species, Van Noy explained.
Both Flanagan and Van Noy felt that students had an understanding of the difference they were making by participating in the fundraiser. One by one, the 21 students read aloud from a prepared index card explaining the importance of saving endangered wildlife. The threat of global warming, caused primarily by pollution and other human actions, has threatened the natural habitat of the bears and other animals, students explained.
Flanagan’s class also communicated with the other fourth grade classes and actually spearheaded the project to help protect endangered species as they informed their peers of the dangers of global warming and the havoc it was wreaking on the world’s habitats.
Past fourth grade classes under the direction of Flanagan have undertaken similar projects. Fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House and canned food drives are just a couple of the projects that Flanagan’s past classes have adopted.
For more information on the World Wildlife Foundation and how to adopt an animal, please visit www.worldwild.org.