Hero's Journey
Environmental conservation has been important to 13-year-old Conor Ryan for years, ever since he started regularly reminding his parents to recycle or not use paper towels. In 2009, his sixth-grade science teacher told his class about a Center for Biological Diversity petition to save the Amargosa toad, which he promptly signed — and which led him to start following the Center's work and get even more involved in conservation, finally evolving into a self-described “eco-freak.”

In 2010, through his school's “Hero's Journey” program — which encourages seventh-grade students to undertake a heroic project as a rite of passage — he decided to take his environmental activism one enormous step forward, organizing a fundraising concert for the Center featuring nationally known and conservation-savvy rock band Barefoot Truth.

The 2010 concert was such a success — drawing 120 people and raising a whopping net $1,250 for the Center (which went toward our Gulf Disaster campaign) — that Conor and Barefoot Truth did it again in June 2011, earning even more attendees.

At the top of the list of Conor's main environmental concerns are deforestation and climate change — but he's interested in combating all threats to nature and species. “It's important for everyone to care about the environment,” he says, “because it would be a shame to see this beautiful planet become ruins just because our species ruined it. We all need to take little steps to help this world come back from what we've done to it.”


Want to share your story in our Activist Spotlight?
A sea change can begin with an ambitious seventh-grader — or maybe, it can begin with you. If you or someone you know has found a creative way to turn concern for the planet — and for endangered plants and animals — into change for the better, we'd like to share your story with the world. Send us your spotlight idea here.

And check out other activists we've honored here.