by Lindsey Mitchell
Hello! My name is Lindsey Mitchell and I am 15 years old.
My story begins in the summer of 2012 as I was accepted into the teen volunteer program at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs. That summer my life was changed as I was immersed in the world of conservation of the natural world. I started volunteering with the education animals in an area called the Loft. This area is where the smaller animals are located that we can take out for the guests to meet the animals up close. In this area, I have learned how amazing education is and the impact one person’s actions can have on others.
My favorite thing about the loft is seeing a child’s face when they are connected to wildlife, either by maybe touching the African Plated Lizard named Reptar or changing the water for the Ball Python named Ponya. In addition, I recently started volunteering in an area called African Rift Valley. Here I volunteer with animals that are from the other side of the world like the amazing Cape Griffon vulture. These birds are very endangered and to get to see them up close and take care of them changes the way I have viewed conservation. Volunteering at the zoo has shown me how important our natural world is and how important it is to protect the animals that inhabit it.
One of the most amazing experiences was having the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with nine other teenagers to see conservation throughout different parts of the world. While there, I noticed how important the environment was to the people living there - a vast change from most of the United States. After my trip, I have dedicated my life to changing the world and educating others on how to do so. Though I am only 15, I have big plans and I can see the good in the world - even though at some points, it is hard to find the bright light at the end of the tunnel.
I will conclude with a story from my time in the loft: One day I was having a little girl help me change our Southern Three-Banded Armadillo Frida’s water, this is a routine thing throughout my day so I thought nothing special of it. As we were filling her water, I was telling her about how we can help animals in the wild by turning our water off when we brush our teeth and recycling. As we were walking back to Frida’s enclosure, she told me with a smile that I had changed her world. I asked her why and what she said will forever have an impact on me, she told me, “You changed me because for the rest of my life I will use the things you told me to help save animals like Frida, I will recycle and change the world and do everything I can to help protect animals, just like you.” That few minutes changed my life because I realized the impact you can have on someone and the world in just 30 seconds. By educating this little girl, I spread the knowledge that we all can make a difference by doing little things throughout our lives. Having a Happy Earth keychain on your keys or a sticker on your car can spark a conversation about how we all can help the world and the animals that live on it. And who knows, that one conversation could change how someone sees the world.
No matter how old you are, no matter where you live, and no matter how hard it is to find the good in the world, you have the power to change the world in who knows how long, maybe even in 30 seconds.