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The Yankee Express

EARTH, Ltd. educates and inspires to aid animals and the environment

An Endangered White Rhino at Southwick’s Zoo. (Courtesy of EARTH, Ltd. website)

By Christine Galeone
Did you know that there are five species of rhinoceros in the world? Did you know that three of those species are critically endangered due to illegal hunting done through international crime syndicates? Many people aren’t aware of these kinds of threats to wildlife. Betsey Brewer, the founder and executive director of EARTH, Limited said, “Wildlife crime is one of the worst problems on the planet.”

 Betsey Brewer, Executive Director of EARTH, Ltd. visits an endangered white rhino at Southwick’s Zoo.

Thankfully, Brewer and her extremely dedicated team of educators, staff and volunteers at the conservation education nonprofit are working to combat the problem. But that’s just part of what the nonprofit does. Through its fun, educational programs, it’s helping children and adults to better understand and appreciate the great and small creatures that share this world with us. And by doing so, it motivates people to try to protect and preserve those creatures and the environment.  
Based at Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, the nonprofit provides “zoo visitors and the community with high quality educational programming.” In addition to presentations at the zoo’s EARTH  Discovery Center and Bird Show Arena, the programs include spring and summer day camps for kids in grades K-9, rhino encounters with the zoo’s two endangered white rhinos, sloth encounters, the Junior Zookeeping Program for kids ages 6-16 and the ZooMobile Outreach Program. It also partners with and supports various environmental and conservation initiatives throughout the world – including the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Project that strives to restore the trumpeter swan to its natural Iowa habitat and Project Rhino, which fights poaching and enables rhino conservation. 
Although the nonprofit has managed to keep raising awareness and support for conservation efforts, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted EARTH, Ltd. “It’s been very difficult,” Brewer said. She noted that maintaining funding for a small nonprofit has been challenging during the pandemic, and the EARTH Discovery Center had to be closed last year. But the center will reopen in a limited capacity this year. She added, “I have some amazing educators. They redesigned everything in the center. I’m excited for people to see that.” 
During the pandemic, the nonprofit has also done significantly less in-person ZooMobile programs for schools, libraries and other organizations. Instead, it created live and pre-recorded virtual ZooMobile programs that include animals that would normally travel with the EARTH, Ltd. educators. “It’s starting to pick up momentum, now,” Brewer, who’s also a Board member of the Zoological Association of America, said of the virtual programs that might continue after the pandemic. “We’re moving forward, so it’s a good thing.”  
And while the nonprofit moves forward, the kids it has educated are moving forward in their desire to help animals and the environment. Brewer said that seeing their passion to protect animals grow over the years is very rewarding. “I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve seen grow up,” Brewer said. “I’ve had kids say that it changed their lives.”
When asked how people can help EARTH, Ltd. during the pandemic, Brewer said that one way is by becoming an EARTH, Ltd. member or by making a monetary donation. But she also hopes that people will share what they’ve learned about rhinos and other endangered/threatened species, so that more people will support the conservationists working in the field to protect the animals. “They’re the unsung heroes,” she shared. “No doubt about that.” 
More information about the nonprofit is available on the EARTH, Ltd. website, www.earthltd.org
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If you would like to 
suggest a Blackstone Valley nonprofit or initiative for this series, please contact Christine at [email protected]