Elkridge girl tries to save rain forest

June 20, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Nadia Lefcourt is saving the world's rain forests an acre at a time.

Spurred by an independent environmental school project, the 11-year-old Elkridge girl raised about $200 that she will use to buy 5 acres of rain forest through a non-profit environment group called The Nature Conservancy, which is based in Arlington, Va.

In return, the fifth-grader will receive an honorary land deed and regular progress reports from local land managers about their conservation activities in the area.

Preserving the world's rain forests is critical, Nadia said, because they provide oxygen and contain many exotic plants that could provide cures for a variety of illnesses.

"When you chop down the rain forest, you could change the weather of the planet," she said. Nadia is a committed environmentalist. Earlier this year, she arranged for a guest speaker to address her school, Deep Run Elementary, about protecting the environment, and she attended a global youth forum on the topic.

Kathy Potter, Deep Run's gifted-and-talented resource teacher who guided Nadia's project on the environment, compared Nadia to the energetic toy rabbit in a battery advertisement. "She kept going and going," she said. "She's done an A-1 job."

An animal-lover and frequent visitor to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Nadia began her independent project on the environment in January.

By reading books and contacting environmental groups, Nadia learned that two-fifths of the world's original rain forests has disappeared during the past 50 years.

Destroying the rain forests has "become a big, major problem," Nadia said. "For every 10 trees destroyed, one is left."

The more Nadia learned, the more she wanted to help to preserve rain forests. In April, she arranged for a speaker from a Wisconsin-based nonprofit environmental group to talk to her school about "green" issues.

And last month, she attended a two-day environmental conference in Washington, D.C., that attracted about 2,000 youngsters from across the world.

But even those activities weren't enough to satisfy Nadia's goals. In April, she began collecting money in a 6-foot-tall papier-mache tree that she placed near the school's front office.

"I didn't expect anything," Nadia said. "I was surprised that I got enough to buy an acre."

Nadia collected more than enough for 1 acre. During the past two months, students and others at Deep Run contributed about $200 toward Nadia's efforts.

She doesn't intend to stop there. She plans to start an environmental club at Mayfield Woods Middle School where she will be a sixth-grader next school year.

"Once I start something, I want to finish it," she said.

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