What One Person Can Do:
“The planting of trees is the planting of ideas. By starting with the simple step of digging a hole and planting a tree, we plant hope for ourselves and for future generations.”
-Professor Wangari Maathai of Kenya, AKA: The Tree Lady-
Kenya’s Tree Lady:
What do you do in your spare time? Do you have the passion or dedication of Professor Wangari Maathai? Since 1974 she and her organization, The Green Belt Movement, have planted about thirty million trees. But the professor won’t stop there. Her goal is to plant two billion trees worldwide by the end of 2008! Yes that’s TWO BILLION! Professor Wangari Maathai is an inspiration and a true role model!
Professor Wangari Maathai has many names, but she’s known to most as “The Tree Lady.” In 2004 she was the first African woman and the first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This is what the Nobel Committee had to say about her: "Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment….Professor Maathai has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy and human rights." -The Nobel Peace Committee 2004.
As a biologist she realized that the lack of water, soil depletion, lack of wood for fires or construction and even the loss of jobs and income were all caused by deforestation. In 1977 she founded the Green Belt Movement whose goal is to replace the trees that have been cut down and reforest these areas. In the past 30 years this organization has planted 30 million fruit, nut and shade trees. There are villages which raise seedlings and then sell them. Then they buy goats and use the goats to make a living.
Now she is an international celebrity. She has touched millions with her simple plan to plant trees, but it wasn’t always simple. She overcame obstacles like governmental opposition and physical beatings. Despite all she endured, she still works to stop the effects of deforestation.
What will you do in your spare time now? Professor Wangari Maathai is an inspiration to many. Has she inspired you?
Laura Jaen-The Sea Turtle Saver!:
Did you ever start a club or a group for something you believe in? Well Laura Jaen from Costa Rica has taken this meaning to the next level. Laura had always been interested in sea turtles her whole life, but she never expected her small group of women to have such a large impact.
Once Laura saw how endangered the leatherback sea turtles were becoming, she knew she had to do something to help. She made it her individual goal to help and protect them. She started a group of local Playa Grande woman to help her educate tourists about sea turtle protection. Because most of these women are tour guides at the nearby marine park, they use this to their advantage by educating the tourists and collecting donations to help the endangered species.
The beach in the area is one of the last thirty nesting areas for the largest sea turtle in the world: the leatherback. The population of these endangered turtles has been declining drastically in the last 2 decades. Scientists estimate that only 10% of the original sea turtle population remains today. This is because these animals have been captured in fishing nets and poisoned by the waste humans have poured into the oceans.
If Laura Jaen, who is just an average Costa Rican citizen, can make a difference to the world then so can we. No matter what country we live in, we can find opportunities that our location has to offer. Look for possible activities in your community where you can volunteer to help your environment. Laura Jaen proves you don’t have to be an environmentalist to take action to help our environment, you can just be someone who cares, a Steward of the Earth.
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Kenya’s Tree Lady:
Tachibana, Yuka. “Waiting for Kenya’s Tree Lady”. MSNBC. 8 November 2007. Accessed 15 January 2008. <http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/11/28/485256.aspx>
“Planting Hope and Inspiration”. Watershed Watch Association, Stony Brook Millstone Org. January 2006. Accessed 15 January 2008. <http://www.thewatershed.org/images/pdf/NLN_WW_01_06.pdf>
“Tree Lady of Kenya wins Novel Peace Prize”. VirtueInAction. November 2004. 15 Accessed 15 January 2008. <http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:9HBqGi2Vvy8J:www.virtueinaction.org/2004/Kenya>
Quote from: “Planting Hope and Inspiration”. Watershed Watch Association, Stony Brook Millstone Org. January 2006. Accessed 15 January 2008. <http://www.thewatershed.org/images/pdf/NLN_WW_01_06.pdf>
Holisticgeek. “Wangari Maathai”. Flickr.com. 22 July 2005. Accessed 15 January 2008. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/holisticgeek/27771226/>
Used under the Creative Commons License. <http://www.freefoto.com/browse/99-05-0?ffid=99-05-0>
Laura Jaen-The Sea Turtle Saver!:
Gingrich, Newt and Terry Maple. A Contract with the Earth. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 2007. Accessed 3 March 2008.
Tidwell, John. “Sea Turtles”. Earth Day Science Symposium. 7 January 2008. Accessed 3 March 2008. <http://cc.msnscache.com/cache.aspx?q=72920101502124&mkt=en-US&lang=en-US&w=729e44fc&FORM=CVRE2>
Tidwell, John. “Women Rally to Protect One of Last Leatherback Nesting Grounds”. Conservation International. 4 April 2006. Accessed 3 March 2008. <http://www.biodiversityscience.org/xp/frontlines/people/04040601.xml>
Low. Leonard. “Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia”. Flickr.com. 1 January 2007. Accessed 3 March 2008. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/leonardlow/340751615/>
Used in under the Creative Commons License. <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en>