Canso student takes action on cold-water coral conservation

By Lois Ann Dort    

CANSO – Something as simple as a child’s love for animals can make change in the world. Mya MacKenzie, a Grade 1 student at Fanning Education Centre, has taken her love for animals and translated that into a fundraising campaign to save cold-water coral with the help of Earth Rangers, a not-for-profit kids’ conservation organization. Last weekend MacKenzie walked the Gully Trail in Canso for pledges as part of her fundraising efforts. She sat down and told The Journal about her interest in saving animals the day after her walk earned $160 in pledges.

“I really wanted to help animals and my Poppy and dad go fishing,” explained MacKenzie and her mom, Janna MacKenzie, speaking to why the cold-water coral conservation project was the Earth Ranger mission that spoke to the family.

Cold-water coral is a little known inhabitant of local ocean waters and MacKenzie is pleased to build awareness to help protect these colonial creatures that live under the waves. There are approximately 45 species of cold-water coral off the coast of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick living in both deep and shallow water. Some corals, which are living animals, not plants, can live as long as 1,000 years and are typically slow growing. They serve an important function in the oceans, providing habitat for other ocean creatures.

With the passing of her Poppy, MacKenzie thought a project involving the ocean would be a good tribute to his memory. Although only seven years old she has fond memories of time out on the water with her Poppy. The best part was, “Driving on his lap,” said MacKenzie.

MacKenzie learned about the Earth Rangers program through an ad on T.V. and immediately went to search for the organization online. The site, earthrangers.com, is full of interesting and fun ways to help kids get back to nature and help the environment. Having fun and helping animals appealed to MacKenzie and she quickly got involved with the program.

When asked why it was important for kids to get involved with programs like Earth Rangers, MacKenzie said, “I really like helping animals and animals are pretty nice.” She hopes that other kids in her area will take up the Earth Ranger cause.

In the coming weeks MacKenzie will hold other fundraising events such as a lemonade stand and a bake sale. She hopes to raise between $300 to $500. If you would like to support MacKenzie in her fundraising goal to conserve cold-water coral you can contact her mom at janna_ohandley@hotmail.com.