Animal success stories that will make you call your senator to protect endangered species.

One of the things that seems it might be on the new administration's chopping block is the Endangered Species Act. Yep, really.

The Endangered Species Act is a federal law that protects over 1,600 vulnerable animal and plant species. To enforce these protections, the law restricts logging, drilling, and other forms of land use.

These restrictions have made the Endangered Species Act a popular target for deregulation pushes. Between January 2015 and January 2017, Congress put forth 135 different bills that would have weakened it, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The latest push seemed to come during a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 15, during which Republican senators put forth ideas to — as they put it — modernize the act.


Some advocates have called the latest push an attempt to gut the landmark bill.

Even its most ardent supporters admit the act could be improved. As recently as 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed changes to the law designed to engage states and improve efficiency and transparency.

That said, some of the claims made against the law have been a bit ... out there.

Some argue the law's not really about protecting endangered species anymore, but instead, it's been unfairly exploited by environmentalists in order to stymie development.

In fact, in January, Representative Rob Bishop of Utah said, "[The law] has never been used for the rehabilitation of species." He claimed it has been used as a sort of scheme to control land and said he would "love to invalidate" it.

What? There are legitimate criticisms one could throw at the act, but really? Never rehabilitated a species?

So ... it didn't help save our national bird?

Photo from iStock.

The protection of the bald eagle was one of the reasons we have the act in the first place. When Nixon signed the law, the iconic animal was in danger of disappearing. Today, partly thanks to habitat protections from the ESA, their numbers have recovered.

They were taken off the act's list of endangered species back in 2007.

Or maybe they weren't — I mean, maybe that's just fake news at this point, right?

It didn't help keep wolves from disappearing from the lower 48?

Photo from iStock.

Gray wolves were once nearly wiped off the face of the lower 48 states. Today, there are estimated to be about 1,900 wolves spread throughout various western states. And while their reintroduction to some areas has been contentious, I don't think you could honestly claim their numbers haven't improved.

What about this stellar sea lion?

Photo from iStock.

Stellar sea lions live in the North Pacific. First added to the list in 1990, by 2013, the species had recovered enough to be removed from the list.

Maybe it's surprising to learn that the American alligator was once on the list.

Photo from iStock.

Perhaps it's time to schedule a trip to Florida? The American alligator spent about 20 years on the list, but by 1987, it had recovered enough to be delisted.

Or the fastest member of the animal kingdom — the peregrine falcon.

Photo from iStock.

Peregrine falcons can dive at up to 240 miles per hour and actually have taken a liking to living on some of our skyscrapers. You might not think such an amazing animal would need protection, but they did once upon a time. They were removed from the list back in 1999.

But, in fact, all these animals (and 32 other species) have recovered to the point of delisting — thanks in part to the Endangered Species Act.

Altogether, 37 different species have been delisted due to recovery, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including humpback whales, the Louisiana black bear, and the brown pelican.

That's not to mention the other more than 1,600 plants and animals still protected under the law. While only a few have recovered enough to be fully delisted, there are still many success stories in there, like the Southern sea otter, the grizzly bear, and the California condor.

Claiming that the Endangered Species Act has never helped is ridiculous. It absolutely has helped keep the U.S. one of the world's conservation champions.

During the Feb. 15 meeting, former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Daniel Ashe called the law "the world's gold standard" for government conservation.

While no law is above a review, we shouldn't back down from acknowledging all that this landmark act has accomplished.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."