Hey, Kids! This is Earth Calling. Are you Listening?

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Reprinted with permission from Bay Soundings.

Habitat loss, pollution, homeless animals…and kids can’t do anything to make a difference. Right? Wrong! Kids can definitely improve our world, even our very own Tampa Bay. Let me share some of what I do. Using the website www.ConserveItForward.com, I support three non-profit groups that 1) help people get safe drinking water around the world using biosand water filters, 2) promote the conservation of amphibians and their importance to our environment, and 3) run my favorite local nature preserve.

I raise awareness through my website, live presentations and running my booth at places like schools, zoos and festivals. I also sometimes raise money through my business where 100% of the profit benefits my three groups.

Now I’d like to tell you about one of my favorite topics: frogs. Frogs are an indicator species. Does that mean they are fortune tellers? Well, they won’t read your palm, but they do read the environment. Frogs have permeable skin, which means chemicals pass through it easily, so they are one of the first species to be harmed in their habitat. If there is a healthy population of native frogs in Tampa, then we know we are doing something right. If there is not a healthy native population, then something is wrong and we must act quickly. Many people do not know that 1/3 of the world’s amphibian species face extinction. According to www.SavetheFrogs.com, approximately 200 amphibian species have disappeared since 1980 and that is not normal.

So how do we know if frogs are healthy in Tampa? Well, first we have to know which ones are here. One way we can do that is by listening to them. You do not need a college degree to be a frog listener, but you do need to know what frogs you are hearing. That leads me to my favorite citizen science project, where you attend workshops to learn about frogs and their calls. Next, you collect data about the frogs you hear and send it to scientists. They need lots of data. If you want to be a local frog listener, Lowry Park Zoo hosts a FrogWatch USA chapter. Go to www.aza.org/frogwatch to learn more.

I love sharing with other kids how easy it is to help frogs and our environment. You can build frog habitats with things you have around your house like old Tupperware and PVC pipes. Ask your parents to not use so many chemicals in the yard. If you get a pet amphibian, make sure it was captive bred and not taken from the wild. Also, if you have a pet cat, don’t let it go outdoors unleashed because they enjoy pouncing, and that is not good for frogs and other small critters.

No matter what the topic is, I challenge you to find a project you love that will help our world. Create your own project or for ideas, visit www.SciStarter.com or www.CampBayou.org. Once you choose your project, act on it, encourage others to do the same — and we can all conserve it forward!

Avalon Theisen of ConserveItForward.com has been recognized internationally for her conservation efforts. With a goal of working for National Geographic when she grows up, her hobbies include traveling abroad and animal handling.

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