How did the animals cross the road? Using these beautiful, innovative wildlife corridors.
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Rocky Mountain Wolf Project

Animals in North America have a problem — they’re having a hard time moving around.

Migration is key for the survival of a lot of species. But in many places, developments like roads, highways, towns, industrial plants, or even entire cities form roadblocks that limit how far animals can move before they encounter humans in a potentially dangerous way. That's bad news on any day, but especially now that temperatures are on the rise. According to a study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, only 41% of natural lands in the United States are connected enough to allow animals to trek safely toward cold enough habitats.

“Wildlife corridors” are areas of protected land where animals can carve an uninterrupted path from one place to another.

Scientists have begun looking for ways to build these "habitat hallways" by protecting and connecting wildlife areas, granting animals safe access to wider swaths of land. In some cases, like that of the Flatland River Valley, that means identifying existing wildlife areas that could easily be connected and moving to protect the land that lies between them.

Flatland River Valley where proposed conservation would protect a critical link in the continent's longest-remaining wildlife corridor. Image courtesy of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

In some habitats, conservation has to get creative — and the wildlife corridors that result are pretty cool.

Some wildlife areas are interrupted by just a thin highway, and though it doesn't take up much space, highways present a real danger to animals attempting to cross to safety. In Canada, architects solved that problem with a special landscaped bridge that allows large and small animals to safely cross the road. In Banff National Park, wildlife-vehicle collisions have dropped by more than 80% since these structures were built.

The Banff Overpass in Alberta, Canada. Image via iStock.

Another unusual wildlife corridor is the Bee Highway in Oslo, Norway. Airborne animals don't need continuous swaths of land in order to travel, but they still need places to land, feed, and rest along the way. So the people of Oslo went outside and built bee-friendly gardens and hives to provide the colonies safe passage through the city.

Marie Skjelbred went a step further, constructing a full beehive on the roof of an accounting building in Oslo. Photo by Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/Getty Images.

As manmade wildlife structures are being implemented in the U.S., we're seeing a steep decrease in deaths among wolves, moose, wild cats, bears, and more.

Colorado's Highway 9 used to be a problem location for drivers and animals, reporting over 650 vehicle-wildlife crashes since 2005 in just a 10-mile stretch of road. In 2015, the Department of Transportation built seven animal pathways over and under the highway. Sure enough, there were just two animals hit by cars the following winter — a fraction of the amount from earlier years.

So far, Colorado's Highway 9 wildlife safety project consists of two overpasses, five underpasses, and a handful of widened shoulders and strategically placed border fences. Photo by Josh Richert/Blue Valley Ranch.

Highway 9 happens to cross an area of land that serves as a migration pathway for a variety of wildlife species, which is why it saw so many animal casualties over the years. The protections put in place were designed to allow animals to reach the opposite side without having to cross the actual roadway — but for those that wind up there by mistake, widened shoulders and "escape ramps" provide a route off the road, and fences prevent the animals from wandering back.

A herd of deer exit the highway via a "wildlife escape ramp," which is positioned to allow animals off the road and prevent them from re-entering. Photo by the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and ECO-Resolutions.

All around the world, wildlife corridors connect habitats and are the key to millions of species’ survival.

From the Terai Arc in India and Nepal...

Image via iStock.

...to the U.S. Highway 93 Wildlife Crossings in Montana...

...to the crab crossings on Christmas Island...

...to the Tsavo East National Park in Kenya.

Photo by Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images.

Animals of every size, shape, and habitat rely on humans to mitigate the damage that our developments have had on them by providing safe crossing to protected lands.

There are dozens of ways to protect and connect wildlife corridors to help animals survive rising temperatures.

Some, like the Bee Highway, are as easy as planting a garden in your community, while others like the Banff Overpass could help protect highway drivers as much as it protects the wildlife around it.

The problem of migration fragmentation is only going to have worse consequences as climate change continues. But we can help. Donate to organizations that help build corridors, like the National Wildlife Federation. Urge your representatives to support the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act. Look for ways to support the wildlife in your area, and plant animal- and insect-friendly gardens that will provide a safe haven for traveling creatures.

It's up to us to make sure that animals are free to roam wherever they must in order to survive.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

This story was originally published on The Mighty and originally appeared here on 07.21.17


Most people imagine depression equals “really sad," and unless you've experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it's different for everyone.

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Tired of avocados turning brown? Try this simple trick.

Ah, the delicious, creamy avocado. We love it, despite its fleeting ripeness and frustrating tendency to turn brown when you try to store it. From salads to guacamole to much-memed millennial avocado toast, the weird berry (that's right—it's a berry) with the signature green flesh is one of the more versatile fruits, but also one of the more fickle. Once an avocado is ready, you better cut it open within hours because it's not going to last.

Once it's cut, an avocado starts to oxidize, turning that green flesh a sickly brown color. It's not harmful to eat, but it's not particularly appetizing. The key to keeping the browning from happening is to keep the flesh from being exposed to oxygen.

Some people rub an unused avocado half with oil to keep oxidation at bay. Others swear by squeezing some lemon juice over it. Some say placing plastic wrap tightly over it with the pit still in it will keep it green.

But a YouTube video from Avocados from Mexico demonstrates a quick, easy, eco-friendly way to store half an avocado that doesn't require anything but a container and some water.

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