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If polar bears could talk … they’d thank these kindergartners

By Karen Colbenson

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

"Dear Mr. Polar Bear: We learned about global warming and how your ice is melting. That makes us sad. We want you to stay strong, have healthy cubs and a nice habitat to live and hunt in. We worked hard at home to earn pennies for polar bears … we want to help make a difference in our world. Your friends, The Woodson Kindergarten Center Tree House Kids."

This letter, along with $100 in spare change, will be sent to the Pennies for Polar Bears fund at the Wildlife Federation, courtesy of three teams of students at Woodson Kindergarten Center.

Over one week, 34 students performed extra chores at home in exchange for spare change. The fundraising goal was $20, which intervention and enrichment teacher Susan Ruzek promised to match.

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By the end of the week, however, the glass jar in the Tree House classroom was filled with hundreds of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and dollar bills, totaling, with Ruzek’s contribution, $98.59.

"We’ll round it to $100," said Ruzek.

Kindergartner Ella Muzik said she helped her parents clean up the house to raise money.

"I took plates to the dishwasher," said another student, Joshua Nkata.

Earlier this year, the Tree House kids, who are part of a new enrichment class offered at Woodson, studied dinosaurs and how they became extinct. Now the students are studying animals that could become extinct during the their lifetime because of climate changes and global warming.

Students learned that if the ice in the Arctic melts too soon and polar bears have to go back to land, then they won’t get enough food.

"We’re trying to save their habitats — that’s their home," explained kindergartner Alex Wynn. "We’re trying to save them from getting extinct. … Global warming makes everything melt, and without the ice, the species will become extinct."

The students decided they could make a difference with their contributions, said Ruzek.

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Kindergartner Elijah Hemann said he was happy to do the extra chores to save the polar bears.

"Somehow, the polar bears, if they knew how to talk, they would thank us," said Elijah.

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