Originally introduced to rainforest ecosystems as part of a geography course, 12-year-old Robert Massicott was captivated by what he saw. “The vibrant colors, the exotic animals – especially the snakes – really interested me. My favorite part of the world became the rainforests,” Massicott explained.
But for Massicott, just studying the rainforest wasn’t enough. After learning of the threats facing these areas he wanted to take action. Required to complete a community service project for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah, Massicott decided to use the opportunity as a way to protect endangered species. His project, which raised money through donations and the sale of rainforest bracelets, was an overwhelming success and resulted in a $1,200 donation for Rainforest Trust to protect imperiled rainforests in Colombia.
When he began the project, Massicott knew he wanted to protect rainforest but wasn’t sure how. He began investigating his options on the internet, and eventually came across the Rainforest Trust web site. “I saw the Rainforest Trust site, read about what they did for the rainforest and thought it looked like a great organization,” Massicott said.
As Massicott browsed the Rainforest Trust site, he found himself attracted to two projects in particular. “I picked the tamarin project because they are primates, an animal I really wanted to protect. The other project I liked, the Golden poison dart frog, was obvious because I’ve always had a fondness for frogs.”
To raise money, Massicott ordered bracelets online that read “Help Save the Rainforest.” After designing and hanging posters about his project at Lincoln Middle School, which he attends in Meriden, Connecticut, Massicott sold several hundred to students and teachers.
“The bracelets were a good idea since they were a reminder to those who wear them to be mindful of the environment,” said Massicott. “The students at school were supportive of my project, and some people even asked how they could get involved. I ended up giving bracelets out to friends who sold them in their communities, too.”
Massicott also sent out letters asking for donations that explained the importance of rainforests and the animals within them. He wrote: “I am interested in supporting the Cotton-top tamarin project and the Golden poison dart frog project. Some interesting facts about these animals are: the Cotton-top tamarin has lost about 95% of its’ potential habitat; and the Golden poison dart frog is the most poisonous animal in the world.”
After four months of bracelet sales, Massicott’s project culminated with his Bar Mitzvah in April, which he used as an occasion to remind guests about why rainforests need to be protected. The speech was a final victory for Massicott and helped bring in additional donations for the project.
“Robert’s service project was impressive in terms of money raised and in the way that he explained to his friends and family why rainforests are worth preserving,” said Debbie Stadtler, who is Program Coordinator for Rainforest Trust and manages Rainforest Trust’s Rainforest Ambassadors (formerly, Kids 4 Rainforest) Project. “This project illustrates why Rainforest Trust is so excited to work with youth to protect rainforests — their enthusiasm reaches the hearts of those around them and their dedication will hopefully turn into a lifelong commitment to saving rainforests and the species that call them home.”
“Robert’s $1,200 donation will make a real difference in Colombia and provide the Cotton-top tamarin and the Golden poison dart frog with the habitat they need to survive,” added Stadtler. “It’s a project he can be proud about for the rest of his life.”