2009 Chapter Summary
Message from the Director, Yvette Taylor
It was my intention to do a 6 month summary of all our activities, but we have been so busy that it proved to be a bit of a challenge. So here is a summary of 2009 to date but the report will be revised at the end of the year, to reflect the projects that were done over the rest of the year. The Earth Organization has experienced tremendous growth thus far this year. Our impact has become noticeable. The implementation of administration and good management will continue to strengthen us and we shall therefore continue to expand as a group.
Walk For Wildlife
One of the first projects that we kicked off with this year was the ‘walk for wildlife’. This event was held to draw attention to the “Wildlife in War Zones” draft resolution. The Earth Organization, in partnership with Miss Earth, held a very well attended event at the Johannesburg Zoo. Present where 150 school children from disadvantaged schools and 22 Miss Earth finalists. A number of businesses and supporters also joined in. All the guests took a walk around the Zoo enclosures which housed animals that were saved from war torn countries. They then signed a scroll showing their support for the resolution. This was presented to the Director of MONUC (Mission de l’Organization des Nations Unies en Republique), Mr Alam, who agreed to forward it to the UN in New York.
Forging Government Relations
Following the ‘Walk for Wildlife’, the Executive Director of The Earth Organization, Yvette Taylor, and The Earth Organization’s International President, Barbara Wiseman, flew to Pretoria, to meet with the Ambassadors from Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso. At each embassy they were warmly welcomed and each Ambassador spoke about their interest in and understanding of the importance of environmental and conservation issues.
In separate meetings, the Ambassadors of Hungary, Zambia and Cameroon also gave their support to The Earth Organization and our efforts to have “wildlife in War Zones” passed into law. Each Ambassador was briefed on the background of the initiative and given some understanding explanation of its implementation. There are a number of examples that illustrate the necessity for the adoption of the resolution, such as the burning oil fields in Kuwait, jungles and important eco systems annihilated by bombs and napalm, and abandoned, starving caged wildlife in zoos!
The Ambassadors were given an understanding of how zoos, wildlife reserves, veterinary clinics and other repositories of wildlife, are often engaged in breeding activities for endangered species. Thus, the wanton disregard and destruction of them can mean the end of entire species, and, as such, should be considered a war crime! Each Ambassador agreed to play a part in this important initiative and to help us push the United Nations to formally adopt our resolution.
Wildlife in War Zones
The Wildlife in War Zones website is intended to spread the message of protecting enclosed wildlife the world over. The website is in its final design stage, it includes a hard hitting flash video on the importance of protecting enclosed wild life. These havens are often home to endangered species and run research programs to prevent extinctions. The website will enable people to sign their support. All these signatures will be submitted to the United Nations in the next phase of this project, which will include presenting the draft resolution to the United Nations General Assembly for vote.
The TEO website was also improved to include a page for kids, to start them started on the path to conservation. This page will be refined over the next few months to give it a firm direction and to include very specific activities for the kids to participate in. School clubs will also be added and this will be fleshed out to include detailed lesson plans to be run in after-school conservation clubs.
Creating Environmental Ambassadors
After the success of working with Miss Earth on the Walk for Wildlife campaign, The Earth organization, along with Miss Earth SA, entered into a new and exciting environmental cause. Due to the clearly defined purpose and nature of the Miss Earth pageant worldwide, it seemed fitting that the winners of each country should serve as official Ambassadors to The Earth Organization, carrying TEO’s message and purpose from city to city. The notion was put forth to Mrs. Catherine Constantinides, National Director of the Miss Earth pageant South Africa, and was extremely well received and supported. Mrs Constantinides immediately appointed Chantel Grantham, Miss Earth South Africa, as an official Ambassador to The Earth Organization and has worked closely with TEO in liaising with and appointing further Ambassadors from around the world. TEO is working to have a Miss Earth ambassador in every country in which we operate and shall then expand out to the entire globe.
Founder Lawrence Anthony releases his second book – The Elephant Whisperer
The release of the Elephant Whisperer created a mass of media interest. There have been a large number of newspaper articles and radio interviews, the highlight being a 30 minute program on CNN that was filmed last month. It will run on Africa on-line in the near future. The book has already claimed the title of a bestseller in South Africa and currently stands as the third bestselling book in Africa. The Earth Organization has been covered in practically every media interview, translating into
huge exposure for us. The interviews were covered as far and wide as Australia, London, Ireland, Europe and South Africa.
USA – Chapter
The Executive Director position for TEO US is being held from above by our International President, Barbara Wiseman. Barbara has been working on creating projects and “products” for TEO that, once they are piloted, will be available to be utilized by all TEO chapters around the world.
One of these projects is a standardized, environmental curriculum for students aged 4 through 18. To align with basic requirements and standards there has been considerable research and development involved in this project. TEO has been asked to pilot the materials in some very large schools and after-school programs in California. Once those pilots are completed, and the materials are fully approved, we will distribute copies of them to each of our chapters for use in their local schools. These materials are based on factual, scientific information with regards to environmental issues, and encourage students to look and think for themselves.
Additionally, Barbara and her team have created spectacular Eco Safaris to South Africa. These are educational trips where groups of people are brought to South Africa, staying 3 nights in Durban, and 5 nights at Lawrence Anthony’s game reserve, Thula Thula. The attendees participate in daily game drives and bush walks to learn about the eco systems and flora and fauna in the area; they participate in daily educational briefings to learn about endangered species and other environmental issues. They return home with a personalized action plan of how each one can make wiser environmental choices in their day-to-day lives. Additionally they spend a day helping us give back to the local Zulu community by either bringing in needed supplies, helping to build something, or playing with children at the local orphanage, etc; and they have an extraordinary experience in luxurious surroundings. Three Eco Safaris were conducted this year – in June, July and December. All received rave reviews from every participant and resulted in new volunteers for TEO, new chapters forming up, and powerful new allies. A web site was put up, specifically promoting the Eco Safaris. Take a look at www.EcoSafariAfrica.com
Three environmental essay contests were conducted by TEO US this year: one in Nevada, in coordination with another non-profit called the America’s Schools Program, and two that were run by TEO in Southern California in coordination with the Los Angeles Unified School District. The essay contests were based around the question: “Why We Should Protect Animals and our Natural Resources?” The 3 rd prize winners won an autographed book by Lawrence Anthony with a $300 check. The 2 nd prize winners won an autographed book with a $500 check. The Grand Prize winners won a book and an 8-night Eco Safari to Lawrence’s Game Reserve with their parents! The Nevada state Grand Prize winner attended our June Eco Safari with her mother and they had the time of their lives. The second prize winner from that contest was so disappointed that she didn’t win, that she managed to raise the funds on her own to come on the trip anyway. Between the two of them, they had the trip of a lifetime. In addition to the regular activities of our Eco Safaris, they also visited the local Zulu high school and met other students their age. Our other Grand Prize winners attended the October and December Eco Safaris with their parents and will become environmental ambassadors for The Earth Organization over the following year.
TEO US also had 3 educational booths for Earth Day. One of these was at the largest Earth Day festival in the world, which is held in San Diego, California with over 70,000 people attending. Another booth was held in coordination with the largest health food chain of stores in the US, Whole Foods, at one of their largest stores. These had the purpose of introducing people to TEO, and our Eco Safaris.
They also had two booths in enormous city convention centres – one dedicated to the promotion of our environmental curriculum at the Green California Schools Summit, and the other dedicated to our Eco Safaris at the California Home and Travel Expo.
A good deal of time was spent on allying new and important people and organizations to TEO. We have some new celebrities who will soon be up on our web site as spokespersons and supporters of our group.
France – Chapter
Noelle Saugout, the President of The Earth Organization France, has been promoted to the President for TEO Europe. Noelle has been instrumental in opening the French speaking chapters in Burkina Faso and Togo. It may not be common knowledge but many North African countries are French speaking. I also wanted to congratulate Noelle and her husband for winning the contract to translate “Babylon’s Ark” into French. I could not think of better people to do the translation.
The French chapter started the year with a bang when TEO France joined forces with the Walt Disney Company. Disney has created a reusable shopping bag and 1 Euro of each bag sold, was given to the Earth Organization to get Landes Forest back in shape. Teresa Tideman, Director General of Disney Store Europe says, “Disney Stores are very happy to be partnered with The Earth Organization France. This partnership as well as other projects launched by Disney Stores will show visitors the importance of preservation of trees in the environment.” Noëlle Saugout, President of The Earth Organization France said “The wish of Disney Store to reforest the Landes is a project The Earth Organization France is very proud to be part of! Trees provide us with oxygen to breathe and they absorb carbon dioxide, which cools the Planet down. Mankind’s future survival on Earth is entirely dependent on the well being of our existing trees and the regeneration of Forests.”
Noelle and her team also asked Miss Earth France 2009, Magalie Thierry, to become an ambassador of The Earth Organization France. Magalie has previously been elected Miss Haute- Saone 2005, then Miss Franche- Comte 2005. Magalie Thierry now has got the opportunity to represent her county at the Miss France 2006 contest. Crowned Miss Earth France 2009 in June, Magalie has the pleasure of combining her two passions: the life of Miss Earth, as well as her college studies in biology and ecology. MISS EARTH is the third largest international beauty contest the first being Miss World and second Miss Universe. Magali Thierry will officially represent France at the Miss Earth finals 2009, in Manila in the Philippines, next fall.
Hungary – Chapter
The Earth Organization Hungary received the prestigious “Prominently Public Benefit status” from the Budapest Metropolitan Court at 23 January 2009. Laci and his team followed this up by holding the largest photo competition that has ever been held in Hungary, with over 1491 entrants. The Photobooks (Rainbow-slide Publishers) and The Earth Organization ran the competition with the support of the Birdlife Hungary Association. The competition called “Profiles of Earth” was a huge success with the quality of the photos submitted being incredibly high.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country is already feeling the impacts of the Earth Organization Nigeria. They opened the doors of their new premises Lagos on the 27th of June. Their office is a stone’s throw away from Alausa, the Office, Government Quarters and Official Residence of the Lagos state Governor, Barrister
Babatunde Fashola. To kick start their programs in Nigeria, TEO under the leadership of Sunday Ogunsanya employed 5 new staff. All the staff are qualified science oriented people; 2 of them possess Master’s Degrees, while the others have Bachelor’s Degrees in the field of science. The efforts of TEO staff are being complemented by 5 dedicated Volunteers
Green Initiative Seminar
On the 17th of July, they organized the ‘First Green Initiative Seminar’ for students of the KPC College Lagos. The 2 hour event hosted Mrs. Shola Ademosun, a veteran educationalist, as their special guest and over 50 high school students participated.
At the 2nd Event, the staff addressed Konsol school, where they taught the kids about taking care of the Environment. The school has a combined population of 455 pupils, from Primary 1-6. TEO was introduced to the school and a TEO conservation club Chapter was also established in the school. Fifty two student members and volunteers signed on. At the 3rd event the Director of TEO Nigeria, Sunday Ogunsanya, was invited to present a paper at the graduation ceremony in Lagos. The hall was filled to capacity and in attendance were professors, bankers, traditional rulers, parents and government officials TEO was introduced to the entire audience and at the end of the presentation, Mr. Ogunsanya received a standing ovation from all present. This was followed up with a 4th event on Friday 24th, 2009. Mr.Ogunsanya and officials of TEO Nigeria visited the Governor’s office in Lagos and addressed the government officials on the impact of climate change. At the end of the presentation, the special assistant to the Governor, accepted a position as a member of a new Trustee group that is being founded.
Ghana – Chapter
Abdalah Niiboye (Nii) launched his chapter earlier this year. He got things going with marketing campaign aimed at the 2500 Senior high Schools and 52 governmental organizations in Ghana. With briefings to schools, parents and teachers, TEO Ghana Club was kicked off in a number of schools. Each school has an executive to implement and run the programs, which will be closely supervised and monitored by TEO. Nii will also conduct seminars to further the children’s environmental education. The club meets every two weeks after school and the first environmental courses are now being delivered. At a later stage, the program will be extended to include excursions and inter-school quizzes, which will be widely publicized in the local newspapers and on TV. The Ghana Tourism Board and Environmental Protection Agency have also been contacted to collaborate on these projects. Nii has also started introducing permaculture to Ghana.
Togo – Chapter
Faustine from TEO Togo has been continuing her project of creating a village of sustainable development. She has been concentrating on her studies since last December, so has not had the time necessary to dedicate to the project.
Cameroon – Chapter
Cameroon undertook a project to start a banana plantation that would benefit the community on many levels. This will provide fruit for sale to the local community and the money made would fund some of the educational programs that they run. The added advantage is that banana trees cannot be burned for fuel and thus would not output carbon or smoke pollution. They have secured a 2 hectare area for the plantation, and Mr Ebogo Germain Sylvain a Scientist of Biology will be assisting with this project. The nursery to cultivate the seedlings has been set up and planting was started before the rainy season. Jerome is also preparing for his “Walk for Wildlife” project and has secured the assistance of the Miss Earth Cameroon. The intention is to use the Dja reserve to host the walk.