For Earth Day 2022, Jack is asking the public to support his goal of raising $5,000 to donate 500 copies of his book, Kawan the Orangutan: Lost in the Rainforest to school kids throughout Manchester [Link to his GoFundMe is below]. Along with each copy donated, a tree will be planted in on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
New Hampshire’s Kid Conservationist has made it his mission to help get orangutans off the endangered species list. Jack has worked toward this by educating others on the remarkable species and threats that continue to impact their habitat in Southeast Asia. He has participated in readings of his book to school children throughout the state and plans to travel to Indonesia in October 2022 to work on future conservation projects, including the planting of trees via his Earth Day donations.
Jack attributes his love for orangutans to a family trip to the Memphis Zoo when he was younger. When Jack came face to face with a baby orangutan and learned about the deforestation that was happening to their habitats from palm oil harvesting, he instantly joined the cause.
“I looked into his eyes and I just fell in love with them. So when it was his birthday and I learned about deforestation and palm oil, I knew I needed to do something to help orangutans. Ever since that day, I have been working to help orangutans as The Kid Conservationist,” said Jack.
He began by writing letters to large corporations including Hershey, Nestle, and Kellogg, explaining the habitat loss that their large use of palm oil has caused. After Jack’s parents posted a video of him reading his letter aloud on the web, The Orangutan Alliance reached out to Jack, naming him the Youth Ambassador for the nonprofit. The child activist was also subsequently named Youth Ambassador for Orang Utan Republik and the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Over the past three years, Jack has ramped up his engagements across the U.S. and internationally, delivering a speech to the Indonesian Consulate in Los Angeles, where the 2021 Pongo Environmental Awards took place.
Jack went on to explain the alarming rate of palm oil usage. Nearly 50 percent of all grocery store products and cosmetics contain this cheap preservative, which can only be grown within 10 degrees of the equator. 85% of oil palms are found in Malaysia and Indonesia, home to the orangutan.
“Palm oil harvesting is detrimental to all animal populations living there, but it’s especially detrimental to orangutans who can’t live in those shorter oil palm trees, and only in the second highest part of the tree known as the canopy. Even if they could survive on palm oil plantations, they wouldn’t be welcomed there anyways,” said Jack.
At just 11 years old, not many kids can claim the title of published author. When Jack drafted his first version of Kawan the Orangutan, publishers at National Geographic were interested but advised that Jack shorten and condense the book. Once a revision was complete, he ultimately chose to self-publish in order to include the illustrations by his chosen artist, Lexi Yang, who also works as the primate zookeeper at The Memphis Zoo in Tennessee. Thanks to The Orangutan Alliance, a partnership was established to plant a tree in the rainforest for each book sold.
Looking to the future, Jack is excited and open-minded about what a career in wildlife conservation might have in store for him. Inspired by the many leaders of the past and present in wildlife preservation, Jack and his family have worked to make small changes for a greener planet by limiting their use of single-use plastics, going vegetarian, and speaking out as wildlife conservation activists.
“Usually what I like to think about is what I want to learn and the people who inspire me. Some of the people who inspire me are Sir David Attenborough, who of course is an amazing conservationist who has lived and dedicated his life to the conservation of all species. Another person I look up to Gautam Shah who is the founder of ‘Internet of Elephants’, a conservation video game design company,” said Jack conservationists that inspire him.
For now, Jack is enjoying his work in conservation, his schooling, and his presence as The Kid Conservationist around the globe. With 180,000 YouTube views from 93 different countries, and recognition as a 2020 finalist for Time and Nickelodeon’s Kid of the Year, all eyes are on New Hampshire’s young activist to see what’s next.
Your donation helps by:
- Promoting literacy for all ages
- Educating children about wildlife and their habitats.
- Planting trees in the rainforest, which is critical to many endangered species, including orangutans.
- Inspiring others! Show children they can make a difference by seeing other kids changing the world.