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Adelante Students Chat About Cheetahs with Founder of Cheetah Conservation Fund

Students from Adelante Charter School attended a special fundraising event for the Cheetah Conservation Fund, where Dr. Laurie Marker discussed efforts to help the cheetah win its race against extinction.

This fundraising and educational event took place Saturday in the gardens of the Santa Barbara Club.

The students, who volunteered to complete a short research project on cheetahs during after-school study sessions, brought their research with photographs, art and information about the unique qualities of cheetahs and the threats to their survival as a species. Soon after the event began, students found themselves sharing what they had learned with the public in front of a live cheetah. This “Cheetah Ambassador” was an 8-year-old cheetah named “Tango.” Students later stood by their research and answered questions for the public in attendance.

Dr. Marker, founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund and widely considered the world’s leading expert on the cheetah, gave these students a private audience for the first 40 minutes of the event so that they could learn more about these amazing animals. She answered all of their questions and gave them insight into the complex issues and systems involved in protecting endangered predators.

Most of the students in attendance told Dr. Marker that they, too, hope to one day pursue careers with animals as veterinarians, marine biologists and zoologists. Dr. Marker herself is a field veterinarian, and encouraged them to think outside of the box as they become the guardians of the future.

Students asked some hard questions, including, “What’s your worst fear about the cheetahs?” to which Dr. Marker replied, “That I might not win their race for survival, and that the world might not catch on to what it needs to save them. So that’s what keeps me going every day. There are only 10,000 cheetahs left on Earth, and that’s not many.”

She talked about how they were able to double the cheetah population in Namibia where she works, but that therefore was still much cause for concern, as the people were quite poor, and finding solutions for the people was where she has ended up focusing most of her energy.

Students from Adelante Charter School have been working to reach out to their community to raise awareness of the upcoming single-use bag ordinance (which they helped to champion when it was still being considered). Dr. Marker praised the students’ efforts while affirming the importance of shifting people’s thinking about how we care for the planet so that in 100 years it is better protected and cared for than it is today. She asked students to join her in helping to protect the cheetah, to which they all happily agreed!

Adelante Charter School’s mascot is, of course, the fastest land animal on Earth — the cheetah.

Students who attended included Ara Chagolla, Jasmine Velasquez, Mauricio Herrera, Mireya Gil, Pablo Simentales, Paola Garcia and Veronica Solano. Michael Macioce, their teacher, accompanied them to the event.

— Michael Macioce is a sixth-grade teacher at Adelante Charter School.

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