7/23/2010 3:07:05 PM

Young Environmentalist Wins Contest

A big paws up to Nolan Berthelette, age 10! He won the grand prize in the Save the Polar Bears T-shirt contest, co-sponsored by PBI with Est. Today. His prize was a behind-the-scenes tour at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, one of our Arctic Ambassador Center zoos.

In the following essay, the young green activist talks about his passion for wildlife and the environment.

"I've been working to save the environment since before I knew what I was doing. My first environmental effort was when I was three years old. The landscapers came to take out a bush in front of my house, and I stood in front of their bobcat machine and wouldn't let them take it. They had to reschedule and come back a different day!

 "Then when I was five, a bunch of teenagers tore a limb off a tree. I got so upset about their carelessness that they went and got electrical tape to try to save the limb. It didn't work, and I was sad about it. I first learned about global climate change and the polar bears when I was seven. Since then that has been my mission.

"Visiting the Roger William Park Zoo with Chris [Hitchener, early childhood director] was one of the best days of my life. It was amazing to learn all about the animals and their challenges in the wild. It was inspiring to meet so many people who care about the environment like I do and work to teach others every day. Jack Mulvena, the zoo director, even gave me his own copy of Jane Goodall's new book that she signed for him! It made me feel very special to know that all these adults cared about what I've done as a kid and know that I can make a difference too.

"Right now, I am working on starting a Roots and Shoots group here at my middle school. You have to be 13 to lead a group, so I'll need an adult to partner with until I turn 13 and can take over. My town and school district are very supportive of me too. They let me teach classes about global climate change and our local ice cream shop, Big Bill's, donated free ice cream to all the kids who came out to help me clean up the park on Earth Day.

"Someday, I am hoping to be one of PBI's Teen Ambassadors. I'm still working on some collections for PBI. I've had a yard sale and sold my belongings and collected cans to raise money for PBI. I like to teach people about ways they can help the environment, so sometimes I pass out flyers that I made when my Mom and I go shopping. I have a million ideas of ways that I can make a difference. Hopefully I will inspire some other kids that it doesn't matter how old you are. We can all make a difference, and together we can save the world."

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