Gopher Tortoises live in the wild and in yards. They also burrow for food near roads because those areas are open and sunny. The tortoises share their burrows with more than 350 other species. They are important to their ecosystems making them keystone species. The Gopher Tortoise is listed as Threatened in Florida. The tortoises and their burrows are protected under state law.
What can we do to preserve this necessary species? Klara Acierno (a Florida Virtual School 7th grader) has come up with a unique idea to help preserve the Gopher Tortoise species and she is making it her Civic's Class Service Project. Kiara is raising money to design, print and give away bumper stickers to educate Florida drivers in an effort to prevent or reduce the number of deaths of Florida Gopher Tortoises that are killed on the roads and highways in Florida , especially in Flagler County. The stickers will warn drivers to watch out for gopher tortoises crossing the road. Many tortoises get hit and killed by cars as they cross A1A and other major roads throughout the state of Florida.
Miss Acierno's dedicated Facebook page, Gopher Tortoise Crossing also educates people about how to save Gopher Tortoises from being buried alive in their burrows by bulldozers clearing land to build new houses. She says, "The more money I can raise through crowdfunding for this project, the more stickers I will be able to print and hand out to more people, which will save more Gopher Tortoises." PLEASE DONATE TO HELP THE CAUSE!
Miss Acierno has researched other ways to protect the Gopher Tortoise and has taken some wonderful photos.
Klara Acierno has prepared the following FAQ's for all to consider:
1. How will putting bumper stickers on cars help the Gopher Tortoise?
Drivers will see the bumper stickers on cars around town and drive carefully to avoid hitting Gopher Tortoises. The bumper stickers will also lead people to learn more about other ways to save the Gopher Tortoise from other dangers when they visit the dedicated Facebook Page, Gopher Tortoise Crossing. You can also put a bumper sticker on your mail box! Never put a sticker on a tortoise!
2. Where can the general public pick up free bumper stickers?
Flagler Sheriff’s Pal tables at community events.
Any other place that agrees to hand out the stickers
Send an email to email@example.com for more information on how to get one by mail.
3. How many stickers will be given away to the public?
It depends on how much money is raised to print the stickers.
$100 will pay for 50 bumper stickers
$200 will pay for 1000 bumper stickers
$350 will pay for 2500 bumper stickers
$450 will pay for 5000 bumper stickers
4. Can someone donate by sending a check in the mail?
Yes! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
5. Are donations tax deductible?
Sorry, no, I am a middle school student raising money to print bumper stickers to educate people about Gopher Tortoises. This is not a non-profit organization.
It cannot be argued that Miss Acierno has put forth substantial effort and demonstrated a level of maturity and civic conciousness to which we all can aspire.
As we are bombarded daily with news of the misdeeds of our youth and their lack of direction and skills beyond playing violent video games, Miss Acierno's efforts and achievements are a welcome respite. If she continues then surely she will become a leader worthy of being followed by our children and grandchildren.