Everyone has, at some point, dreamed of being a superhero; of swooping in at the nick of time to save the world from danger. What were the dangers you imagined when you dreamed about being a superhero? Was it saving the world from an asteroid like Superman? Saving someone tied to the tracks right before the train gets there like in the old western movies? Saving someone from a burning building like a firefighter?
What about saving the population from climate change? Or saving a sixth-grade class from a lack of science education? How about teaching students not only about science and the environment but how they can use that knowledge to create a business and fulfilling life? Have you dreamed of being able to save an endangered species from human-caused habitat loss? This is the type of superhero that I get to be every day and the superheroes that I get to create every day through the Youth Environmental Alliance, Inc. (YEA).
At YEA, we deliver hands-on educational programs focusing on ecology and habitat restoration through engaging, recreational activities that teach STEM standards and milestones (science, technology, engineering, and math) approved by the school boards. Through these activities, the students and their families become stewards for the ecosystem within their communities and encourage community involvement to reduce the impact humans have on the environment while fostering social, emotional, and economic development.
Through our “Sailing for Success” program, disabled youth can experience not only independent sailing but freedom from disability. Our habitat restorations have resulted in dune and mangrove restorations in South Florida that have provided protection during hurricanes, information about many species habitat loss that has led to legislative change such as the endangered Bartram’s Hairstreak butterfly in Miami, the endangered California Least Tern in San Diego, and participation in the protection and documentation of the world’s most endangered marine mammal: the Vaquita Porpoise, in Mexico.
One of our favorite programs is our “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” program. This is a nationwide program that not only teaches students the skills needed to fish, the biology of the fish they will be catching, and the ethics of being a sustainable angler – but also goes over healthy life choices, and how knowing about fishing and the environment could create a booming business! Knowing the regulations and the laws of fishing in their area mean they could run a charter fishing company and have people pay them to take them out fishing. How many people do you know that would like to try fishing, but don’t want to spend the money on all the equipment, or a boat, and don’t have the knowledge of which fish they can or can’t have or where to go? Wouldn’t be great to be able to pay someone to take you out for a day and give you all the equipment, bait, and knowledge and take you to just the right spot? If these kids have this in mind and as a goal since middle school, do you think they’ll be more resistant to getting into the wrong crowds and bad habits in high school?
YEA has these and many other programs that we are excited to offer. We bring scientists into the classroom and students participate in actual, real-life science and collect data right then and there. We have been located in Florida for many, many years, and have recently expanded to San Diego, California and Baja Mexico, and we are expanding to more physical locations soon! We can reach students all over the country through live virtual classrooms, online courses, and program kits that can be mailed to teachers with everything included for them to run our programs themselves (even a how-to video!).
Teachers and parents that want YEA in their classrooms can find out more about our programs at www.yeafrog.org and can see what we are up to by following us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YouthEnvironmentalAlliance.
Want to participate in habitat restoration or set up one of your own with the employees of your own company, by Contact me at Becky@yeafrog.org.
Even if none of this fits the bill for you, you can still be the superhero to the youth and the environment by helping us. With your help, we can expand our 501(c)3, non-profit organization nationally and be located in every state. We can develop more teacher resources to send to classrooms all over the country. As a non-profit, we rely on volunteers and private donations for our operations.
Be the superhero and save the world: For the Youth. For the Environment. Forever.
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