The Issue: Washington-Area Orcas Extremely Endangered
For the last decade, the Orcinus orca whale, which resides in Washington State, has faced habitat degeneration, prey depletion, and human-generated sound pollution, according to a 2004 report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. In 2002, the whale was declared endangered, and by the fall of 2008, only 83 members of the endangered population remained, while 82 remain today. Educating young people about the plight of these whales can inspire them to create change on an individual level, encouraging them to be ecologically conscious and inspiring them to help save the whales.
The Campaign: Teaching Students How to Protect Whales
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by Killer Whale Tales to teach schoolchildren about protecting endangered orcas. For every $250 raised, Killer Whale Tales can bring five hours of orca education to three Seattle-area schools.
At the start of each interactive programs, Jeff Hogan—an experienced orca researcher—conducts a 60-minute storytelling presentation based on a dream he had about being an orca. Using real whale sounds, videos, and a full-size orca skull, he teaches students about life in the ocean and the challenges these creatures face. The presentation is followed by another 60 minutes of hands-on exercises and activities using data Hogan has gathered during his summertime field research. Each lesson ends with a conservation wrap-up and take-home challenge to teach the kids how to do their part in protecting orcas and reducing their ecological footprint.
Killer Whale Tales
Jeff Hogan met his first orca whale when he was a kid at an exhibition in Colorado. He felt an immediate attachment to the whales and asked their handlers every question he could think of, Hogan remembered in an interview with the Port Orchard Independent. Once he moved to Washington State as an adult, Hogan learned more about the predicament the whales in the wild and vowed to help them.
Hogan's plan for action became Killer Whale Tales, an interactive educational program that teaches children about the challenges orcas face while engaging them with real scientific data. Combining his skills as a teacher, scientist, and performer, Hogan teaches students to imitate whale calls, identify specific orcas out in the wild, and pinpoint similarities and differences between whales and humans. The presentations, offered free of charge in Seattle-area schools, leave kids excited about science and conservation and inspired to do their part to protect the whales and their food chain. So far, Hogan has been able to reach more than 66,000 students with his program, including more than 10,000 in the last year, as chronicled by NPR.