Pennies for the Planet (www.penniesfortheplanet.org) is a powerful tool for motivating children to learn about and become engaged in protecting biodiversity. Kids collect pennies to support specific wildlife projects and also participate in environmental projects in their own communities. By teaching students about threatened ecosystems and wildlife, Pennies for the Planet hopes to connect young people and families with the environment and provide ideas about how they can help protect it.
The Pennies for the Planet campaign is made possible by support from TogetherGreen, a five-year Audubon initiative – in alliance with Toyota - created to build the promise of a greener, healthier future through innovation, leadership and volunteerism.
For the 2008-2009 Pennies for the Planet school year campaign, students and families across the country raised $26,186.28 – that's 2,618,628 pennies – to support the first year of Audubon conservation projects including South Carolina's Four Holes Swamp, Maine's Project Puffin and Audubon Wyoming's Sagebrush Sea.
Pennies for the Planet change collected from now through the end of August 2010 will be divided equally among the following three important conservation projects:
• Share the Shore, to help raise public awareness about protecting nesting shorebirds, including the endangered Snowy Plover, and the other wildlife that live on California's sea shores;
• Save Our Soil, a project to purchase and plant native plant species that will keep the marshland from eroding and provide habitat for alligators, birds, and crabs;
• Restoring Florida's Panther Island by building up marsh systems, removing invasive vegetation, and improving the area's water quality and habitat for important species such as endangered Florida panthers, wood storks, and gopher tortoises.
The school or group that raises the most funds by Earth Day, 2010 will be treated to a daylong BioBash celebration with prizes and fun green outdoor activities led by a team of Audubon educators and partners. Last year, the highest donation came from Hooverville Elementary School in Waynesboro, PA, which raised nearly 200,000 pennies.
"We need to nurture tomorrow's environmental leaders, and it is vital that we give children everywhere the chance to discover what it means to give back and to care for wild places in need of conservation attention," said Audubon President John Flicker. "Pennies for the Planet links environmental education with environmental action, which we hope starts them on a lifelong journey toward conserving and stewardship in the future."
Over the last decade, in conjunction with several other environmental organizations, Pennies for the Planet has helped tens of thousands of young people nationwide conduct local action projects in their communities and raise thousands of dollars to support species and habitat conservation.
Pennies for the Planet materials, including a full color poster and educators guide, a newsletter for kids, and a participation form with incentives and awards are available for download from www.penniesfortheplanet.org for classroom or at-home use.