Pandas, orangutans, tigers, and elephants typically are some of the endangered animals people learn about.
However, a group of Andover students discovered last year that there are 29 different endangered species — ranging from turtles, mussels, insects and plants in their own hometown. Now they they have embarked on a public awareness campaign to shed light on the species with the hope of helping to save the local environment.
"They were shocked because they learned about endangered species in school, but didn't know they were here in their hometown," said Stephanie Maze-Hsu, the team manager for the Destination Imagination team working on the project.
For the past two years, the students have been working with the Andover Conservation Commission to learn about the species and find ways to raise awareness and preserve local habitats. This past year they created a video that will be shown in all Andover science classes. They also hosted a forum with the Conservation Commission recently that is available to watch through the town's website.
"The more people know about endangered species the more likely they are to protect them," said Bob Douglas, Andover's director of conservation. "With your outreach, I'd like to think more people will learn about these wonderful critters and learn the best way to protect them."
Helping educate everyone of all ages, especially young people, is important, said Ben Meade, Andover's conservation agent.
"You are inheriting the world from us. So the more you know about them and as threats to endangered species continue to be present or in some cases grow, it's really good you and your generation are aware of them," Meade said.
One of the most threatening activities to these species is the illegal ATV riders on reservation land, particularly at Lightning Tree Reservation. Motorized vehicles are prohibited at conservation land in Andover.
The students are working to place a sign in the area explaining the various endangered species.
More information about the team's work and Andover's endangered species can be found at andoveranimaladvocates.com.