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Rainforest Rescue
The Earth Foundation Project


By Laura Candler


It seems as though you cant open the newspaper lately without reading news about another natural disaster or environmental problem. From global warming to debris floating in outer space, depressing environmental news dominates the media. Often the problems seem beyond our control. But what if you and your students could take part in a project that would actually make a difference on a global scale?


The good news is that you can! With the help of the Earth Foundation, you and your students can help rescue our planets rainforests. Earth Foundation works with other environmental groups, such as the Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, to purchase acres of rainforests to prevent their destruction and preserve them for future generations.

2009 Wild and Free T-Shirt

Each year, the Earth Foundation involves thousands of schools in the United States in their Adopt an Acre campaign. Students across the country learn about rainforest ecology as they raise money to preserve rainforests for themselves and for future generations. They also learn that they can change the world by working together and setting goals.

But why do we need to teach kids about the rainforest? Many adults are aware of the problems of deforestation, but most children have no idea why rainforests are so important.

Our rainforests are in grave danger, and their destruction has global consequences. Each day, thousands of acres are destroyed to make room for crops, roads, buildings, and mining. Ancient trees are cut down for lumber and other products. Rainforest habitats take centuries to develop, so those that are cut down are essentially lost to us forever. Tropical rainforests provide oxygen for Earth, homes for animals, and products like medicines and food. When a rainforest is destroyed, the area frequently becomes a desert, and soil erosion becomes a problem. Even global weather systems are affected by rainforest destruction.

Its important that our youth also understand the impact of rainforest destruction; its even more important that adults help them become part of the solution. The Earth Foundation project is one way they can do that.

The Earth Foundation project, which is simple to implement and fun to participate in, has contributed millions of dollars to rainforest protection during the last 18 years. Ive personally been involved with this very worthwhile organization for about 10 years. During last years campaign, my school sold 1175 t-shirts, saved more than 100 acres of rainforest, and sent a teacher from our school on a free10-day trip to the rainforests in Costa Rica. (The rainforest trip is awarded to one teacher in each school that saves more than 100 acres.)


About the Author

Laura Candler is a classroom teacher with 27 years experience teaching elementary and middle school. She is a workshop consultant and the author of more than a dozen books for teachers, including Classroom Goal Setting. Laura is also the creator of the Teaching Resources Web site, and offers hundreds of free materials in her online File Cabinet at Laura currently teaches at Stoney Point Elementary School in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

This month, we are embarking on our 2009 campaign, and Id like to invite other educators to join us in our efforts to save the rainforest. To get involved, call Kellie at the Earth Foundation (1-800-5MONKEY) and ask her to send you a rainforest project kit. It includes a CD of teaching materials, two DVDs with beautiful documentaries about the rainforest, and sample t-shirts. You also can visit the Earth Foundation Web site to learn more and to see this years t-shirt designs.

To make this project easy for other teachers and their students to get involved in, Ive created a page on my Teaching Resources Web site devoted to Rainforest Teaching Resources. There, youll find tips about how to make your project successful, along with samples of all the letters and forms we are using this year. You even can download the forms and customize them for your own use. Ive included links to all my favorite rainforest childrens books and other resources that might be helpful.

Its not too late to get involved. Give it a try this year and youll be hooked. Dont think of it as something extra to add to your already packed schedule; studying the rainforest can fit into almost any curriculum. Because of the connections to science, social studies, and even health, you can easily squeeze a few lessons into your existing units of study. Youll find that your students are fascinated with almost anything they learn about the plants, people, and animals of the rainforest. More importantly, youll be teaching them the value of getting involved and making a contribution.