What Kids Can Do
The good news in a sad story like this is that thousands of people are trying to help.
Volunteers on a beach
There are experts around the world working together to stop the spill, including biologists, engineers, geologists, and others. They are not only trying to stop the leak, but also monitor the areas affected. They are also working to help prevent this type of spill from ever happening again.
In addition, people around the world are trying to help in whatever ways they can—from raising money to volunteering to protecting habitat. Eleven-year-old Olivia B. from Long Island wrote a heartfelt letter to National Audubon Society following the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. An artist, she offered to send an original drawing of a bird to anyone who donated money to the oil spill response. Soon her letter made it into newspapers and websites everywhere, including papers in the United Kingdom and Belgium, and thousands of people were sending in donations to help with the oil spill recovery. The publicity made it to AOL.com, which decided to showcase Olivia’s art as a fundraiser for Audubon. (Check out Olivia’s Facebook page, where it all started, here.)
And of course there is one simple thing that almost anyone can do to prevent an oil spill like this from happening again: We can reduce our consumption of oil by driving and flying less, taking public transportation where possible, buying less “stuff,” and turning our thermostats down in the winter and up in the summer. For more ideas, check out the Audubon Energy Guide.
It’s also helpful to have some ways that your kids can get involved in helping, if they want to do something. Here are five things that older kids can do to help:
- Learn More: Kids can dig in and learn more about the Gulf ecosystem and why it’s so important to people and wildlife. They can learn more about the effects of oil—on the wildlife of the area and also on the businesses along the coast. They can learn more about how oil actually affects living things (see How Oil Affects Birds).
- Fundraise for organizations helping in the Gulf and in your own neighborhoods. Like Olivia, young people can be very creative about getting adults to support efforts to protect the environment. Encourage your kids to think outside the box for creative ways to funnel money to the causes and organizations they care about. Or, if they would like to support Audubon's efforts, they can download this donation form and donate to the Gulf Oil Spill Recovery Fund.
- Educate Others: Kids are creative and love to share what they know. Have them think about how to show why this spill highlights the need to reduce our energy use. They can also educate people about the complex ocean food webs and how an oil spill like this can cause problems for people and wildlife.
- Work with Adults to Save Energy: All actions to reduce energy are good. Kids can do some important things—from simple actions (replacing light bulbs) to working with schools, businesses, and churches to reduce energy. Family efforts to reduce energy can be the most important because they provide kids with adult role models.
- Help volunteer at local parks and nature centers to protect habitat. Birds and other wildlife need healthy habitat across the country. Helping in your local area can make a huge difference. This can include planting native trees and other plants for wildlife, getting rid of pest species, and cleaning up lakes, rivers, streams, and coasts. Check out audubonathome.org for ideas on converting your own backyard into native habitat.