An engaging young man spoke with The Fur-Bearers at the Night Market in North Vancouver last week. He is passionate about wolves, not just for their obvious beauty and strength, but for the important role they play in the world around us. And then he asked a question that inspired this blog: “what can I do to help them?”
We realized that we frequently speak directly to adults in our communications – those who vote, engage in their communities at an organizational level, or are perhaps members of political parties. But our youth – from those in grade school to young adults making decisions about the direction of their lives – not only have voices, but are intelligent, compassionate, engaged, and ready to make a difference in what will one day be their world. And that’s why we’ve put together a simple list of starting points for young people who believe that our wildlife needs protection.
- Write letters – and get others to write letters, too. You may not be old enough to vote, but you’ve certainly got a voice. Writing letters (or emails) is a formal, trackable way to communicate with elected officials. When The Fur-Bearers calls out for action to our supporters, we often include writing tips – things to say, things not to say, and tips to remember. Make sure you check those out and you’ll be on your way to being a great advocate!
- Learn the facts. A lesson that’s hard for some adults is the importance of verifiable facts. Not only can hyperbole or misquotes lead to confusion among advocates, it can actually discredit entire arguments. In formal debates, in the media, or in discussions with policymakers, it is imperative to always stick to known facts and have citations available as necessary.
- Engage your community. Protests aren’t the only way to engage people or show them you care. Talking to your friends and neighbours, screening documentaries in your community, or even doing class projects on a cause you’re passionate about (like protection of wolves) is a wonderful way to spread awareness, educate, and get more people involved. The Fur-Bearers even have entire lesson plans for wildlife-specific issues that are free to teachers and classrooms.
- Lead by example. Whether it’s taking the pledge to #MakeFurHistory, using fewer animal-based products, or changing how you talk to people you disagree with, making compassionate choices and leading by example can have far-reaching results. In fact, you may never know it, but you can inspire people every day to make better choices or rethink their attitudes by always keeping compassion in your heart and voice.
- Get involved with groups or non-profits. You can volunteer to work at a booth or drive injured wildlife to rehabilitators; you can raise money at school or pass out pamphlets for your favourite non-profit; there are so many ways you can get involved with the many groups and non-profits working for change for animals that you really just need to reach out and ask.
We’re so happy to know that young people like Thomas are out there, learning about wolves and other wildlife. It inspires us to keep working every day, and gives us hope that someday, co-existence won’t be talked about – it will simply be part of our lives.