One of the pillars of belief that drives Mara Elephant Project’s mission is that the youth of this world is the key to the conservation of our ecosystems and protection of our endangered animals. MEP partners with The Maa Trust and schools in the Mara to educate the next generation in Kenya about how important elephants are to the conservation of the ecosystem in which they live. We are working toward changing youth attitudes in Kenya that view elephants as nuisances that crop raid and kill people. We believe with more positive exposure to organizations like MEP, the Kenyan youth will feel more connected to the wildlife in the Mara and take an active role in their protection.
MEP C.E.O. Marc Goss planting seedlings at a Kenyan primary school.
In the United States, this message changes. Connecting how a kid in the USA has any impact on the protection of elephants in Kenya is a tricky challenge; however, this next generation is up for the task. They are going to be our leaders in the conservation community that are inventing new ways to protect endangered animals in endangered places and getting them started as early as possible is the best way to ensure this.
Lucky for MEP, International Baccalaureate (IB) schools across the USA agree. One of the core focuses of IB schools is to teach children how connected we all are and how simple actions can make big impacts. So, for example, learning about an ecosystem, a landscape species and what children can do today to ensure they are protected IB curriculum believes is an essential part to creating an empathetic future generation that is going to lead the charge.
IB elementary schools like Crooked Creek in Indianapolis, IN teach their children that when they learn something, they feel something, and those feelings and that knowledge lead them to take action. This is something Crooked Creek’s media specialist and IB coordinator Kelly Ouattara calls, “the head, the heart and the hands.”
Crooked Creek serves over 700 children ranging from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade and is a part of the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township that is one of only six public school districts in the country that follow an IB program for K-12. They emphasize an IB curriculum through projects like the Global Marketplace at Crooked Creek.
Crooked Creek children presenting their artwork for sale during the 2016 Global Marketplace.
Every February, Global Marketplace is set up at Crooked Creek so that parents, community members and other kids can come and shop handmade items that the children make to sell. Items like bookmarks, jewelry, key chains and notebooks are all made with care by the kids knowing that the money they raise (usually around $1,500) is going to a global cause. Lucky for MEP, this year, that cause is us!
“We picked MEP to be our 2018 beneficiary because we wanted the kids to connect to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and specifically focus on one, Life on Land. What the kids learn at Crooked Creek about conservation and ecosystems at an early age are taught through projects like the Global Marketplace: that their actions can affect change globally.” Kelly Ouattara, Crooked Creek IB Coordinator
MEP visited Crooked Creek to present to all grade levels about the work our organization does to fulfill our mission. The children were all engaged and asked many great questions. They listened intently and were fascinated by the crisis of poaching and human-elephant conflict that were taking place in the Mara. All of this created a spark within them to create interesting items for their Global Marketplace fundraiser and have a purpose for their hard work. If you are interested in having a fundraiser for MEP at your school, please contact Claire Bolles for more information.
MEP Communications Director Claire Bolles presenting to the children at Crooked Creek.
Finally, be sure to stop by Crooked Creek on February 22 to shop the marketplace in support of MEP. We hope it’s projects like this in schools like Crooked Creek that inspires the next generation to take care of our precious ecosystems and protect the animals that live within them.