The Project of the Month award recognizes and celebrates Roots & Shoots members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. In sharing these projects with YOU, we hope to help inspire your next Roots & Shoots project. Click here to learn more about the Project of the Month award.
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SCIS Roots & Shoots in Shanghai, China is a group of students ages 11 to 20 at an International school. Their first project in service to their community was to build a hydroponic plant system. The students not only had fun working on this project but they take great pride in their work — after all, it will benefit the entire school!
The Roots & Shoots group, “Office for Students with Disabilities,” raised money in order to increase the access to education of their colleagues with severe disabilities, by offering them social scholarships for one semester of study. We spoke with the group leader about the project.
Q: How did you choose this project and what was the outcome?
A: The project came as a result of an email from a student with a severe disability (i.e. multiple sclerosis), who did not meet the criteria for receiving the standard social scholarship from the faculty. We came up with the solution of organizing a fundraising event involving students and other members of the academic community. During the five days of fundraising (used books and educational materials donation and acquisition), we managed to reach the proposed target for a 10-months Social Scholarship (plus 50 euros).
Q: What was your favorite part of doing this project?
A: My favorite part of this project was to observe the enthusiasm of the students coming early in the morning to set up tables with the books and the boxes for donation, as well as their perseverance in recruiting new people every hour of the day. Also, due to their joyful presence, the students started to attract the attention of the teaching and administrative staff of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences. The students engaged them in vivid conversation about the aim of the project and about the inclusive significance of every little gesture.
Q: How did your work impact the community?
A: The project had a great motivational impact on the community of students by offering them the possibility to become participative agents in the process of facilitating access to education for one of their colleagues with special needs. The students had the chance to meet the scholarship recipient in person when she was offered a special diploma and the scholarship at the end of the project. This special meeting had a strong emotional impact on the students and they informed me that they are willing to get involved in similar projects as soon as possible.
It is important to mention that Babes-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca) is currently the only Romanian Higher Education Institution that has a special structure dedicated to the students with special needs (i.e. Office for Students with Disabilities), so the success of this project brought an added-value to the perceived necessity of this type of structure in all the Romanian academic institutions.
Q: How does Dr. Jane Goodall inspire you and your group?
A: Together with my colleagues, we offer our students examples of dedicated people promoting respect towards animal and human life. Dr. Jane Goodall is often given as an example.
The Forest Rangers of Valera in Amazons, Peru started their work on behalf of the environment in January 2014. They are a group of 20 members, ages 6-15, who are trained to lead the protection of the cloud forest and its vast biodiversity. Their latest Roots & Shoots project aimed to protect orchids from community members and tourists who cut and remove them, which is against the law.
The Washington Roots & Shoots group at Washington Elementary School in Taichung, Taiwan organized a project to help the local and endangered Collared Scops Owl community. Inspired by Dr. Jane Goodall and a local owl biologist, the Roots & Shoots group constructed owl nesting boxes specific to the needs of the Collared Scops Owl. This group has made a difference by improving human interactions with the local owl community and by providing the endangered owls with a safe space to nest.
Note: View the video on YouTube.com to access links specific clips within the video.
A message from the group leader:
“Pawsitive Action is the first nonprofit organization of its kind in Puerto Rico. Me, Carlo Bosques, and my sister, Claudia Bosques, created it in February of this year. We provide materials and volunteer services to shelters across the island, and we are entirely managed by students. The Pawsitive Action Food Collection was the first project carried out by our organization. It was carried out in two separate schools, as well as participating businesses, such as Walgreens. We collected more than 1,000 pounds of cat and dog food for the Save a Sato shelter. We've been featured front page in the newspaper, and we met Jane Goodall during her recent visit to the island.
The video was done in collaboration with Bear Trap Films, an award winning film studio owned by students as well. The studio has many members within the organization, and they made the entire video for us. (It also helped that I'm lifelong friends with the founders!).”
"I like knowing that my writing would turn into a book that would help people learn about elephants."
The 5th graders at P.S. 107 John W. Kimball Learning Center have had a busy year. How many 10 year olds can boast that they are authors of a published book? Not many, but the 5th grade class at P.S. 107 has accomplished just that. One Special Elephant: The Story of Penelope Petunia is a book written by the class about endangered elephants and the poaching crisis that they face. Dr. Jane even lended her talents to write the book’s foreward! Read more below about this book and the passionate kids behind its success.
Q: Who led the efforts for this project? What was the end result?
A: Beast Relief is a PTA committee at P.S. 107 which works to teach children about the need for wildlife conservation, instill in them a love of animals, and help animals far and near. Their activities have included animal-themed art, video and book projects, educational assemblies, fundraising and supply drives, and marches. They worked with the fifth grade class on this project and the students are so pleased with their work - it's been a big sensation at the school.
Q: Does Beast Relief continue to do other projects?
A: Beast Relief is now working to help rhinos threatened by poaching, polar bears at risk from global warming, and displaced local dogs and cats. They previously completed another book similar to One Special Elephant called One Special Rhino: The Story of Andatu. It was written and published by the previous fifth grade class and was featured in National Geographic. The proceeds from that book are donated to the International Rhino Fund.
Q: What are you going to do with all the profits from this book?
A: All proceeds from sales of the book go to a special fund within the Wildlife Conservation Society to support further research on Penelope Petunia and her family. We hope that the book will directly benefit these special elephants.
Q: How did your 5th grade class grow during this project? What do you hope children who buy your book will learn?
A: We hope that the children who wrote, illustrated and self-published this book have taken a significant step toward becoming lifelong conservationists. We hope that the children (and adults) who read the book will learn about the poaching crisis of endangered forest elephants and join the fight to save these animals.
Q: This sounds like a great read! Where can we get the book?
A: Sales have been brisk, both at the school and on Amazon.com! As well, the Wildlife Conservation Society plans to make the book available for sale at its zoo gift shops, which will allow the book to reach even more children. It is also available for sale at Barnes & Noble.
Congratulations to everyone at P.S. 107 who helped turned this book into a success!
"I like having clean water and changing something that’s needed for the whole community.”
Fifth graders in Crozet, VA used the Roots & Shoots Formula to identify a service campaign that is sure to have a positive impact on their community. As part of their IMPACT (I’m Making A Planned Act of Compassion Today) project, they created a community map to take a closer look at the area surrounding their school. While assessing their completed map, they realized that road and drainage construction near their school could be having an impact on their water supply - they decided to take action. With help from a Roots & Shoots mini-grant, they set off to research the issue.
These impressive young scientists are making a real impact in their community. We connected with their teacher to hear how their project is going:
Q: Where did you come up with the idea for this project?
A: Each year, our fifth graders complete an IMPACT project. Our students struggled with identifying a meaningful need. They helped at the SPCA, completed food drives, but something was missing from our experience. I attended Share Fair Nation in Bridgewater, Virginia on November 8, 2014. I completed the Roots & Shoots community mapping workshop and realized this was the missing piece in our community service project. I completed the Roots & Shoots online course and our students began community mapping in January.
Q: How did community mapping lead you to identifying your concern for the water supply?
A: Our 49 fifth graders used Google MyMaps to make a map that identified challenges including road and drainage construction near our school. We also found out through the mapping exercise about the community association that met monthly right across the street from our school. The teachers attended the next meeting and invited the board members to speak with our students. They shared a concern that there was unplanned construction in our area that could possibly impact the purity of our water supply.
Q: What was your course of action after your findings?
A: We submitted our “What’s in our Water?” Roots & Shoots project, received a mini-grant and conducted research including:
- researching the history of our water supply;
- inviting local experts from the Nature Conservancy to speak with our students about identifying healthy waterways and what might challenge them;
- and, contacting the Open Water Lab for information regarding remote water monitoring of the creeks surrounding our school land that feed into our reservoir.
Q: How do you think the students benefitted from this project?
A: Our students recognize the importance of bringing this information to the foreground and are proud of their role in serving the town. Our 5th graders are actively engaged in making their school and community a better place.
Q: What are your next steps in this project?
A: Our next steps are constructing a RIFFLE (remote, independent, field-friendly logger electronics) to monitor our streams and providing our data to the local newspaper. This research will continue into the next school year with a new group of fifth graders.
"We are a small group of dedicated kids trying to make a difference.”
We’ve heard the phrase “children are our future” countless times, but a special organization run by kids for kids is reminding us of the truth and power behind this saying. KYE-YAC is a philanthropic foundation led by a small group of youth that volunteers with children and does fundraising to donate to charities that support children. This group shows what a difference youth can make in our communities and in molding younger generations.
KYE-YAC was founded by Kye M. who currently serves as the organization’s president and is a member of the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council. Kye’s inspiration for the organization came from his grandmother, Nancy, a woman who captivated others with her kindness and love of family. The sudden loss of Nancy at Christmastime in 2007 left a space no one could ever fill. Nancy’s boundless heart, soaring spirit and unconditional support of Kye early in his life made a tremendous impact. Like a seed, his grandmother’s influence essentially formed the roots of KYE-YAC (through Kye), allowing ideas, efforts, and inspiration to bloom today enabling a continuation of her lifetime gifts of love and giving.
We chatted with Kye to learn more about his Roots & Shoots group and their projects:
Q: How do you help improve the lives of the children you work with?
A: Annually, the youth-led KYE-YAC board chooses children’s charities to support after in-depth research and numerous site visits. Since our inception in 2009, we have supported over 100 causes, contributing nearly $500,000 in charitable giving to youth in Arkansas and beyond.
Q: How long have you been working with kids?
A: We have been involved in some sort of volunteering, community service or fundraising for a good part our lives. We have been working with and for kids for seven years.
Q: How do you incorporate the Roots & Shoots initiative in your work?
A: We are extremely excited to be able to continue as a Roots & Shoots team and help further the program’s mission, along with the Jane Goodall Institute, in any and all ways we can. KYE-YAC and the Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots team had a great time mentoring local youth and teaching them about Dr. Jane Goodall and her life with chimpanzees. The kindergarten and first grade children had a blast making their own binoculars just like the ones Dr. Goodall used when she was observing chimps in Gombe, Tanzania. The kids were excited to learn how chimps play, hug, get angry and scared – just like they do. The KYE-YAC group read Dr. Goodall’s book, “The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps” while the kids listened and watched through their very own binoculars.
Q: Do you think your group members have grown from their experiences with KYE-YAC?
A: Board member Esmerelda says, “We are a small group of dedicated kids trying to make a difference. My background isn't typically fundraising, but Kye gave me some tips and I, and we, are doing really well!"
"I hope that one day in the future I can see happy people and animals in my island."
In Caguas, Puerto Rico, something very special is happening; an initiative to help the stray animal population of Puerto Rico called Kids for Animals was started and has been hugely successful in educating the community, collecting food for animal shelters, and even getting local businesses involved in the effort to stop animal abuse. The best part about this group is that it all began with a seven year old girl who has a passion for animal rights. What an inspiration to see our youth becoming involved and leading our communities!
Q: How did you come up with idea for your project?
A: Kids for Animals was directed by a very determined seven year old who wanted to help the stray animal population. She recruited over 10 veteran animal welfare organizations and asked them this time to direct their efforts to educate children. Because Isabella believes that children can change the world and that even one child can make a difference. As a result the Kids for Animals team, consisted of dozens of dedicated animal rescuers and of course thousands of eager children that participated!
Q: What impact did your project have on your community?
A: Several businesses joined in the effort and dressed in purple, wore the animals ears and gave away the animal ears to their clients. The Responsible Citizens Pledge was displayed on their establishments and they offered information to their clients about how to stop abuse and neglect towards animals, allowing the Kids for Animals message to reach an even broader audience, thus we estimate that the final impact of the education was over 5,000 people in Puerto Rico. Kids For Animals reached different countries such as Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador who shared the Kids For Animals story in their countries and joined dressing in purple and raising awareness.
Q: Do you have any media sites where we can view your project?
A: To watch the videos and to know more about Kids for Animals visit Kids for Animals Isabella on facebook. You can also find Kids for Animals on PR Animals or Common Cause for Paws or any of the many organizations that joined this effort. The lists are on Kids for Animals Isabella facebook.
The Waterford School Roots & Shoots Club has been busy learning about water conservation. They decided to put their knowledge to good use by taking on the Iron Giraffe Challenge to raise funds for a well for water for South Sudan. Waterford School Roots & Shoots been a Roots & Shoots club for 5 years and has members ranging from 5th to 8th grade. They participated in various activities to achieve their goals of education about water conservation as well as fundraising. We talked with their group leader Eileen about the group’s experience undergoing this project.
Q: What inspired you to do a project about water conservation?
A: In humanities, all 6th-8th graders read “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park. This book inspired the students to take the Iron Giraffe Challenge.
Q: Were there different ways in which you achieved your goals?
A: Students have prepared a presentation for a school assembly and are currently working on a program for our local libraries. The students chose 4 main points about water conservation and safety. They presented the facts and then gave a solution for each. It was a great experience to have the opportunity to go to the KATV studio and film the public service announcement. In addition, students have planned several fundraising activities.
Q: What is unique about your Roots & Shoots group?
A: Our group leaders are also the humanities, science, math and music teachers for the middle school. This gives us an opportunity to integrate our Roots & Shoots projects throughout the curriculum and involve all of our students.
"It amazes me that from Room #2309, we are making a difference in parts of the world we've never even visited."
In Aurora, Colorado, members of the Helping Wings club meet after school to raise money and do projects in service of people, animals, and the environment. The club has been meeting for 3 years already and this year, they officially became a Roots & Shoots club! They also partnered with Hope Shines, a charity that works with orphaned children in Rwanda. We chatted with group members to hear about their latest project.
Q: How did your group decide to do the Hygiene Education project?
A: We wanted to do a project where we could come together as a community to clean up and create a learning opportunity for the children of Rwanda about drinking water safety.
Q: What made this specific project so special?
A: Three school clubs including our own, the Environmental club, National Honor Society, and some school staff picked up trash around Hinkley High School and inside the Canal. We had over 70 people participate in the cleanup! This cleanup was very successful because we had way more than just our club involved in the cleanup, and made a real difference in the cleanliness of the Canal.
Q: What’s next for your club?
A: We are currently planning the “Taste of IB” which is an event we hold at our high school every year, where students gather to showcase the diversity of our cultures. We have foods from all parts of the world and cultural dancing and singing as well as other activities. As of now we have over 50 people involved and are hopeful for more participants to create a successful event. The money raised from this event will go to Hope Shines for water sanitation projects. Future projects will include posters promoting water sanitation to be sent to Rwanda and will continue throughout the year!
"It's time people stop blaming the wrong end of the leash."
The Roger Williams Park Zoo Roots & Shoots group meets every Thursday from September through May. We got in touch with group leader Emma Leslie to hear more about our very first Project of the Month of 2015, the Pit Bull Awareness Campaign! Emma is the instructor of the RWP Zoo Roots & Shoots group, but she says that she is really just a mentor as all of the work is done by the group’s dedicated members, ages 13-17. Most of the members have been part of Roots & Shoots for years and although they have completed many projects already, they always have new creative ideas for their next project.
Q: How did your group choose the Pit Bull Awareness project?
A: The group was inspired when they learned that October was National Pit Bull Awareness Month. To celebrate, they wanted to create a project that would help a local pit bull rescue group and educate their communities on the stereotypes that surround this misunderstood breed.
Q: How did the group raise awareness?
A: We set up donation boxes throughout the community to collect a number of donations for Handsome Dan's Rescue - a local organization that rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes pit bull type breed dogs. We also made pins to hand out to friends and classmates. The pins had anti-discrimination slogans on them as well as a link to a Pit Bull Perception quiz we created.
Q: Can we take the quiz?
A: Sure! Click here.
Q: What did this project mean to your group members?
A: “The Pit Bull Project speaks to me because my friends and I have pit bulls. I wanted other people to see them how we do -- as nice and sweet animals." - Kyra, age 13
Your project could be the next Project of the Month! Click here to learn more.