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WWF works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries.
Panda Ambassadors are some of WWF’s most engaged activists – supporters who step up to be leaders in their communities and help carry out WWF’s mission through a variety of projects. In 2023, like every year, Panda Ambassadors committed to completing 4 projects, and their accomplishments are impressive.
From classroom presentations and social media campaigns, through community events and blogs, all the way to meeting with elected officials about environmental issues or creating wildlife-inspired art, Panda Ambassadors made waves for the planet in more ways than we could list. Below is a small sample of these projects:
Jaimi McPeek, a Panda Ambassador from Florida, dove into the program as soon as she joined. Over the year, she organized three trash clean-ups, mobilizing her community to keep their local environment clean. Her efforts led to more opportunities, like giving presentations about plastic pollution at a local business and school. Her community’s enthusiastic response to her call for volunteers—including a request for more ways to help — was a happy surprise. “We managed to pull about 200 pounds of trash out of the ocean, and it was a total success! We pulled about a mile of rope out of the ocean as well as a table (yes, a table!), a boot, fishing rods, an anchor, old metal crates...This event is truly one that I will never forget,” Jaimi said, adding that in preparing her presentation, she was inspired to be more conscious of what plastic products she buys and how she disposes of them. “There were some kids attending the seminar and at the end of it, they wanted to take a picture with me. One little girl couldn't stop hugging me!”
Jaimi’s involvement with the community also opened her eyes to other ways to be involved. She now closely follows local policies that could lead to habitat destruction and looks for ways to counter them.
Panda Ambassadors Lindsey Coffey, Zach Weisner and Emily Kutzavitch (who made an awesome team at Lobby Day 2023) banded together to request meetings with their respective Pennsylvanian Representatives. “Even though I have tried many times in the past, this was my first state level meeting,” said Emily. Though their representatives were reluctant to express support for EPR, both Emily and Zach saw the meetings as a great start to a productive relationship. Lindsey is working on scheduling a meeting and will keep up the pressure alongside Emily and Zach into the new year.
In Virginia, Terry Chandler connected with multiple Representatives to discuss the difficulties in pushing for EPR within the state. The officials shared a need for more information on how other states have successfully passed the policy. As a result, Terry researched EPR bills across the country and provided her elected officials with additional resources to support their work. Terry plans to band together with fellow Virginians and advocate for EPR as a group in the new legislative cycle, showing the public’s will for policies that stop plastic pollution.
Washington state Panda Ambassador Ashley Malouf embarked on a major gardening journey this summer: transforming her yard to be more friendly to local wildlife. Her land was mostly clear-cut of native vegetation when she bought it, so she wanted to introduce a variety of native flowers and trees that would sustain pollinators, amphibians, and larger species. “I had grand plans and visions, but the heat of the summer was tough,” she said. “Because I'm off grid, I needed to hike and haul water from down at the creek. After some time, not much was popping up... So, I shifted gears and spent my mornings removing noxious weeds, making nature paths around the native plants and trees, and keeping good hiding places for birds. And soon enough - we had a deer family move in!”
For Ashley, this project exemplifies how a change of plans isn’t always a bad thing. Her yard is much more wildlife-friendly now than it was before, even if she didn’t complete the full transformation she envisioned. One step at a time, she plans to continue her efforts in order to provide a habitat for more native species.
Apex predators are often misunderstood, even feared, so a group of Panda Ambassadors teamed up to spread some knowledge—and love—via a social media campaign. Sunna (NY), Cecilia (CA), Emma (NH), and Erika (NC) used the Instagram account @apexappreciation to share key information, from threats they face to fun facts about species like the tiger and the wolf.