Carter and Olivia Ries are very passionate about animals and conservation. When they were younger, it was adopting Cheetah’s and realizing their plight against extinction in South Africa that called them to action. They decided to save the Cheetah for one more generation.
With a lot of dedication, and, as their dad Jim explains, “much persistence”, the Ries family, natives of Feyeteville, Georgia (GA), USA, started a nonprofit. By 2010, One More Generation was officially filed as a nonprofit, and the siblings were ready to educate young kids and adults about the plight of the Cheetah and other endangered species. Then, the Gulf oil spill happened.
Carter, Olivia, and their parents watched the first images of seabirds and turtles being pulled from the Gulf. Caked with oil, and with their habitats destroyed, these animals were hopeless. The siblings sprung into action, contacted the four largest animal rescue agencies involved with the clean up spent four months gathering the most needed supplies. From church to church and school to school, the duo made presentations and asked for help in collecting these items.
On Olivia’s 8th birthday, the two kids headed to the Gulf to deliver their supplies. They worked with a local rescue centre to make sure their resources were put to good use. They were. On the last day, a veterinarian a commended the duo for their hard work., but asked “where do you want me to put the animals when they are all better?”. The veterinarian told them that, despite their best efforts, oil is not the real problem, plastic is. Without saving the environment, you can’t save animals.
Taking an obstacle and turning it into opportunity, the Ries clan spent the next 5-months educating themselves about Plastic Pollution and started a Plastic Awareness Week curriculum that they hope to get in every school across the USA.
Today, they have over 70 local, national, and even international organizations on board, helping them educate the world about the many issues surrounding plastic in oceans. Their speaking tours have taken them to schools across the USA. Recently, they made a trip to South Africa, where they were inspired to get involved with the various issues surrounding Rhino poaching.
From the Cheetah to the Rhino, Carter and Olivia are inspiring youth from around the world about issues that animals and conversationalists. Their actions speak for themselves, and the are truly taking steps for future generations.
We learned early on that not all adults take kids seriously and for no other reason than their age. We also learned to not let that both us and to keep on motivating our peers to get involved. We honestly cannot say we would do anything differently. Everything we set out to do was worth all the hard work and effort and we encourage others to follow their passions. If you see something wrong, stand up and try to make it right.
5 things you hope to accomplish in 1-2 years.
1. To reach out to as many kids and families around the world as possible to show them that they too can make a difference.
2. We want to get everyone to realize that the issue of plastic pollution is so severe that the only way we will ever turn this around is for everyone to make a commitment to pick up at least one piece of trash everyday everywhere you go.
3. We also want everyone to consider adopting at least one endangered species every year so the agencies helping to save these animals can have the funds they need to make a difference.
4. We want to help kids everywhere find their voice and to give them the tools they need to realize they have the power to affect change.
5. We want to continue our efforts with trying to save Rhinos from poaching and to continue to raise awareness about what is happening to so many animals around the world.
How can others help you accomplish these goals?
Others can help us accomplish our goal by spreading the word that our organization exists and by getting involved now. Our number one message to the youth of the world is “Anybody can make a difference… if we can, they can too.”
We are also launching a global Youth Membership Program that will allow youth everywhere to get involved in one of our many initiatives. The goal of the program is to make OMG a truly Youth Empowerment Organization.
How can people get involved?
Anyone interested in getting involved with any of our initiatives need merely to reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what they are passionate about and we will help them find a way to make a difference.
We also need financial help so anyone interested in donating can do so by clicking on this link.
We also want to encourage youth everywhere to visit our website and join our Global Youth Empowerment Program where they can find ways to get involved in our many initiatives.
Have you had any major accomplishments or accolades that we don’t already have listed?
Getting one of the two communities in GA who were still hosting Rattlesnake Roundups to switch to an animal festival was huge. They had been collecting and killing snakes for no reason for over 40 years and to get them to agree they needed to stop was amazing.
We also learned that plastic pollution was an even bigger threat to animals than all the oil being spilt globally. We spent five months educating ourselves on the issue and then help write a week long curriculum which is now available to schools nationwide.
We also collected over 10,000 letters from youth all over the world about the need to try and save Rhinos and we hand delivered all the letters to the South African government to show them that the youth of the world sincerely cares that they work harder to save the species before it is too late.
Any words of advice or wisdom? Anything else you want to tell the world?
Find what you are passionate about and tell every adult you know until someone listens and gives you the start you need to make a difference in this world.
Wrote a week-long Plastic and Recycling Awareness Curriculum which is now available to schools nationally and internationally.
Assisted in BP Oil Spill cleanup.
Appeared on the Steve Harvey show.
Working to support the efforts to end rhino poaching in South Africa.