By Hayley Crandall
Community Conservation, a Wisconsin-based conservation organization, is hosting its first ever virtual fundraiser aimed at raising money toward wildlife conservation while also encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors.
Upon joining the “Pedal, Paddle, or Plod” event, participants can do as the name says: pedal, paddle or plod. Pedaling encompasses biking, paddling focuses on water activities like canoeing and plodding centers around walking or running, according to Shelly Torkelson, Communications and Outreach Coordinator.
“Run, walk, hike or roll,” she said. “It can be an accessible event, also. When people register, they can choose whatever activity they want. They don’t even have a check box where they have to commit to a specific activity.”
Participants receive a bandana as part of their registration. Top fundraisers have a chance to win prizes such as gift cards or Ian’s Pizza free slice cards. Participants track miles by the honor system; and there are no distances required, Torkelson explained.
“Personally, I run a little bit, but before I started, I would not sign up for something that had a specific number of miles,” Torkelson said. “So, it’s even more helpful for people who don’t get outside much or are not active.”
Registration costs $35 and along with other donations, all proceeds go toward the organization’s wildlife conservation project in Borneo, Malaysia.
The area of Borneo is home to various wildlife. Most notably it holds one of the largest populations of orangutans, according to Community Conservations.
As part of surveying, researchers have employed local men in the area to monitor wildlife. However, they quickly learned that the local women were also greatly interested in helping, Dr. Teri Allendorf, executive director, explained.
“We just said, ‘Hey, are you guys interested in learning how to camera trap and participating,’” Allendorf said. “And they were like, ‘Yes, why didn’t you ask us like three years ago when you came to the community, of course, we want to learn!’”
The project aims to train local women in camera trapping through partnership efforts with the Smithsonian, Sarawak Forestry Corporation and researcher Olivia Cosby. This allows them to learn conservation efforts and earn additional income for their households, Allendorf said.
The hope is that through these measures, they will be able to lead into more community-driven conservation initiatives for the area. In a way, it helps the Borneo residents become aware of their actions and how to help these animals that they have come to love, Allendorf said.
“They learn it’s not just for some kind of research,” Allendorf said. “It’s so that they can start to put in their own monitoring projects and understand what wildlife is there and how to protect it.”
Community Conservation’s “Pedal, Paddle, Plod” runs until Monday, July 26 and has currently raised over $3,000. Its final goal is $5,000. It has wide-spread engagement, Torkelson said, but are always encouraging more participants to sign up. Those interested can join as either an individual or a team. If not interested in the activity side of things, standalone donations are also accepted.
Further information, including registration and donating, can be found at http://communityconservation.org/ppp2021/.