Ripple Effect: Saving Elephants One Kid at a Time

Some of the Vermont's student “champions” leading the state's first march for elephants and rhinos. Photo courtesy of Laurel Neme.

Children’s voices can be extremely powerful—a fact readily apparent on a recent Sunday when more than 325 people—most of them children—participated in Vermont’s first kid-driven Global March for Elephants and Rhinos.

The event was initiated by 12-year-old Taegen Yardley, who organized a network of youngsters from across the state.

Student “champions” at more than a dozen elementary and middle schools spread the word about the march to classmates, teachers, and parents—in the process creating a groundswell of interest in the plight of elephants.

“I’d heard about it before, so I gladly helped,” said Siri Beck, an eighth-grader at Edmunds Middle School, the largest in the state. Beck garnered support from her fellow student council members and prepared a broadcast about elephants and the march for morning announcements.

At Stowe Elementary School, ten-year-old fifth-grader Abrie Howe educated teachers, classmates, and parents about the impact of the illegal ivory trade when she spoke at an all-school assembly in front of 400 people.

Howe researched and wrote her presentation and then elicited support from her friend, Ellie Zimmerman, who stood by her side and held up a poster during her speech. Howe also hung posters around the school and convinced the front office to hand out elephant-related pins, bookmarks, and stickers.

“So many kids were involved on different levels,” said Kristin Yardley, Taegen’s mother.

Some of the Vermont’s student “champions” leading the state’s first march for elephants and rhinos. Photo courtesy of Laurel Neme.

Origins of Activism

Yardley first learned about elephant poaching in 2012 from National Geographic magazine’s cover story on Blood Ivory. Inspired, she and her friends held a bake sale to raise money for orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya.

This spring when Vermont’s legislature started considering a bill (H.297) to ban ivory sales in the state, she and —> Read More