11 year old conservationist saves over 2,500 acres!
A supporter of Rainforest Trust since he was eight, Kyle Hughes has been passionate about animals and nature from a young age. Recently, Kyle took an interest in charity, which began one Christmas when his grandfather bought him a goat to donate to an African family in need. This interest in charity eventually led Kyle and his family to Rainforest Trust.
Kyle’s parents, Rob and Rebecca Hughes, wanted to find an organization that addressed issues their son was passionate about, mainly protecting habitats.
“We wanted to make sure that we found a charity that used the money well,” Rob said. “We contacted a family friend, who is an ethnoecologist who was familiar with what Rainforest Trust was doing with the Sierra Del Divisor project in Peru, and were very impressed with the ways [Rainforest Trust] integrated conservation efforts while working with local populations.” At this point, the Hughes’ realized it was a perfect fit.
Learning about Rainforest Trust’s work motivated Kyle and some friends to give a presentation about the Sierra Del Divisor project to his cub scout pack, after which they collected donations. The following year Kyle continued his philanthropic ways by asking Santa for a donation to Rainforest Trust for Christmas. When asked why he chose the rainforest as his main focus of charity, Kyle said,
“…the rainforest is one of the best producers of oxygen because it has lots of trees and plants which turn carbon dioxide into oxygen… so we should protect them.”
While he has been busy raising money for Rainforest Trust, he has also helped out locally in his home state of Texas. His cub scout den worked with a local wildlife sanctuary outside Dallas to restore Blackland Prairie habitat by cutting back invasive plant species, as well as picked up trash along local creeks.
In his free time, Kyle has enjoyed educating others about the importance of conservation. When he was seven, Kyle created a video to encourage others to be more environmentally conscious. The video, which earned him 1st place in a local school district competition, awarded Kyle a chance to compete at a state level contest, which urged youth to create works with the focus of Dream, Believe, Inspire.
“One of my favorite projects was the video international mini documentary film,” said Kyle. “I got to use a camera, I got to show my toys and I actually learned a few things.” Speaking of toys, Kyle has collected over 100 animal figurines and model train scenery pieces. So, instead of playing video games like many children his age, he prefers to set up habitats from different places around the world for his animals.
“We have tried to encourage his interests,” said Rob. To reinforce this, the family has gone as far as traveling through Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Rocky Mountain National Park this past year, as well as planning future trips to Tanzania’s Serengeti, Alaska and the Yukon Territories, so that Kyle can add to his experiences – especially when it comes to raptors, his favored species. Kyle has attended multiple raptor shows and can’t wait to be old enough to volunteer at a raptor rehabilitation center, so that he can begin to fulfill his aspirations of becoming a zoologist or biologist when he grows up. Until that time, we celebrate Kyle’s continuing support of Rainforest Trust and the over 2,500 acres of vital habitat he has helped save so far!