Find out about the rainforest in Costa Rica and how two young girls made a dream become a reality in this exclusive LoveToKnow interview with Janine Licare, co-founder and spokesperson for Kids Saving The Rainforest.
Kids Saving The Rainforest was founded by two young girls in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. At only 9 ½ years old Janine Licare and Aislin Livingstone, with help from Janine's mother, Jennifer came up with the idea to sell painted rocks at a roadside table hoping to raise money to save the rainforests and Titi monkeys of the area. Since then, the organization has expanded its mission to educate children about the rainforest, preserve local rainforest land and rehabilitate animals.
Interview with Janine Licare
What first got you interested in saving the rainforest?
Growing up in an area surrounded by rainforest and incredible biodiversity, its disappearance and destruction was quite noticeable. When your back yard is being torn apart in front of your own eyes, anyone would be compelled to try and save it.
Why is it so important to save the rainforest?
The rainforest is like the lungs of our planet. It not only provides oxygen and clean air for us to breathe, but it is also a storehouse of treasure waiting to be discovered. It contains cures to diseases and is a home to millions of unknown species.
Can you describe what it is like living in Costa Rica?
For starters, it is like living in a sauna. It is the most humid place I've ever been; nonetheless, the most beautiful. It is very tropical and incredibly slow paced (in comparison to Stanford, California, where I live now). All in all, it is the tourist's paradise, but is home to me.
Have you visited any other rainforests in the world?
Not on other continents but I have been to tropical rainforests in Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, the Caribbean and rainforests in Alaska.
How can people help or get involved with Kids Saving The Rainforest?
They can go on our website and learn ways to create lesson plans about the rainforest to teach to their classmates, friends or family. They can also raise money or start recycling campaigns.
What has been the greatest challenge for your organization?
Survival of the Fittest: Mother Nature always has the upper hand in deciding which animals are going to survive and which ones aren't supposed to survive under our care. Sometimes, even when we try our hardest, there are those baby animals that don't survive because they weren't meant to, and that's always something that's hard to accept.
Can you tell us about some of the animals that live in the rainforest?
We have permission to work with several species of wild animals at our rehabilitation center. Nonetheless, the species we've been working the hardest to save is the critically endangered Titi Monkey (aka: Squirrel Monkey). They are small and very cute. We have been working with them for years now trying to increase the species' survival.
Sloths are also very cute. They spend most of their day sleeping and eating. Due to the influence of their diet on their metabolism they are some of the slowest animals you will ever see. In the wild, they grow algae and moss on the exterior of their fur that serves as a camouflage to hide them from predators. In addition, they live their entire lives in trees, only coming down to the ground once a week to go to the bathroom!
What future plans do you have for your organization?
We are in the process of finishing up our Wildlife Sanctuary for animals that can never be released. We want it to be a Wildlife Experience for foreigners that come to the area so they can visit the sanctuary, see the animals, and learn about the importance of the rainforest and why it needs to be saved. We are going to continue reforesting and have planted 6000 trees so far. We have a monkey bridge program that keeps monkeys from being electrocuted, hit by cars, and allows them to get to other troops for breeding purposes. We are expanding that, working on getting insulated wires, transformer cones, and trying to get subterranean electrical wires. We are expanding our sister program and our membership program which exists around the world. Our fourth book, Rainforest Magic, will be available soon.
How can people support your organization?
As I said before, our organization is building a special wildlife sanctuary experience for visitors to Costa Rica. We are planning a sanctuary that will be exciting, educational, and will create a strong impact. We want everyone to leave understanding the importance of saving the rainforest and be enthused to help as well. We need $100,000 to build the sanctuary to fulfill this goal. It is possible for anyone interested in supporting our organization to make a US tax deductible donation through our website and that is a great way to help save the rainforest, no matter where anyone lives.
LoveToKnow would like to thank Janine for sharing her knowledge about the rainforest and giving us insight into the work that her organization, Kids Saving The Rainforest, is involved in. We wish her and her organization continued success.