| Alison Gavin and students
| Participating social study class
| Amazon Rainforest, Peru © Diego Perez/CEDIA
This past December, seventh grade students at Wilmette Junior High School in Wilmette, Illinois, took to the Internet to inquire about land use in the Amazon Rainforest. Students in Alison Gavin’s social study class looked at the roles that environmentalists, loggers, native Amazonians, rubber tappers, ranchers, and oil companies play in protecting, sustaining, or destroying the rainforest.
“The more students inquired and learned about the situation, the more they wanted to do something with their knowledge to make a difference and protect the rainforest,” Gavin said.
While conducting research, students came across Rainforest Trust’s website and learned about current efforts to protect the Sierra del Divisor. Excited by the possibility of taking action to save the rainforest, students organized a week-long change drive with Gavin’s help. The drive was conducted as a “class against class” competition with all five of Gavin’s social study classes participating.
“After hearing about Rainforest Trust, I went home and checked out the website on my own and was impressed by the fact that people from all over the world were helping preserve the rainforest. I had $100 from winning a violin solo competition in Chicago and I decided to donate half of it for the rainforest because I wanted to help preserve the beautiful forest and the animals who make their home in it,” said Rachel, one of Gavin’s students. “I thought my donation might excite the rest of my class and encourage more students to contribute so we could save more acres. It worked! My class raised over $100!”
The coins (and bills) brought in by Gavin’s 139 students ended up totaling $446.00. Their donation will protect 3,568 acres of Amazonian rainforest.
According to Josie, another of Gavin’s students, the experience “helped us understand that, even though we are on the other side of the world, we can still make an impact.”
“This was an absolutely positive experience for the students. We want to help in any way we can, and if we can spur more schools to do similar fundraising drives, that would be an added bonus!” said Gavin.