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Young Fundraisers Support River Otters Obi-Wan and Olive

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Selling lemonade to flowers, kids across the mountains of Western North Carolina are showing up in a big way for the animals at the WNC Nature Center.

In September, the Friends of the WNC Nature Center announced they were raising money to support repairs to Brandon’s Otter Falls, the habitat of river otters Obi-Wan and Olive. “The response was tremendous,” Development Director Kate Frost says, “and we received some really special notes with the donations that came in. Two-dollar bills from the Tooth Fairy, allowances that had been matched by parents, and colorful pictures were given by kids to support the otters.” The fundraising goal was met, and repairs should begin on the otter habitat this fall. Obi and Olive will soon be able to enjoy their newly fixed pool!

Several more kids donated their earnings from summer enterprises, including lemonade stands, flower stands, and bake sales. Alma Rouse is an 8-year-old who lives in Yancey County with her mom, dad, and older brother. Over the past year, she has raised more than $500 to support the WNC Nature Center through bake sales and craft sales. “I love animals, and I would do anything for them,” Alma says. “The Nature Center is one of my favorite places. I like the variety of animals from bears to owls. It is cool to see how animals live in their natural habitat.”

Bored at home during the lockdown, Alma got the idea to raise money to help animals: “I got to thinking about how much animals mean to me when I was home so much, spending time with my cat Fuzz. I wanted to support them, and I love baking and making crafts, so I thought if I sold them, I could help animals in need.”

Alma now periodically sets up at their local food co-op to sell cookies and crafts, and she’s established an online store at www.almashandmade.com, where customers can support her fundraising efforts by purchasing cookies, potholders, and window stars in a variety of colors.

“It’s inspiring to see the giving spirit of Alma and these other young entrepreneurs,” says Frost. “We’re so grateful for the engaged families in this community who are helping grow the next generation of nature lovers, conservationists, and even fundraisers!”

Through her donations, Alma has adopted the Nature Center’s skunk, cougar, gray wolves, red foxes, river otters, and white-tailed deer. You too can become a Wild Parent and support the mission of the WNC Nature Center by adopting an animal at www.wildwnc.org/adopt

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