Leaders in Wildlife Conservation (LIWC) is a student-led nonprofit with the mission to spread awareness about endangered animals and sustainability of the environment. Several students at Great Neck South High School came together in recent months to discuss ways to better nurture the planet.
Founder and executive director of LIWC junior Eric Liu founded this organization in light of his admiration for animals. Since his youth, he has taken pleasure in observing the wildlife around him and has since grown more concerned with the apparent decrease in animal biodiversity.
“I observed various animals throughout my childhood, including exotic insects such as the Japanese Rhinoceros beetles and the Annam walking stick,” Liu said. “Overtime, this enthusiasm for animals developed into a drive to protect them and later to practice veterinary medicine and to conserve our planet’s dwindling biodiversity.”
Liu felt especially passionate to establish LIWC because of the recent events from 2019-20 that have significantly affected animals’ habitats. Three main events he stated that have widely affected wildlife populations are the “Black Summer,” Australian bushfires and COVID-19. Thus, with these growing environmental concerns in mind, the quarantine period allowed Liu to focus more of his attention on wildlife.
“I have noticed how fast our planet’s biodiversity is deteriorating,” Liu said. “Our planet is undergoing the sixth and largest mass extinction right now, yet only a small percentage of the population is taking this seriously. Upon witnessing with my own eyes the scope of the problem—12 million hectares of forests charred and koalas scorched in agony in an ungovernable flame—I could no longer remain stagnant.”
With Liu’s interests, as well as that of his co-founding members, the leaders came together to establish this nonprofit, as they firmly believe that the Great Neck education does not sufficiently educate students about protection of the environment and overall sustainability. Liu explained that the organization’s leaders specifically noticed that the SHS community has a “lack of awareness for environmental and wildlife conservation.”
While these students could have educated their own peers at school about the environment, this club had not yet been approved. The LIWC leaders hope to make this organization into a club at SHS.
To educate teenagers as well as passionate wildlife observers, Liu and his fellow student leaders started a website where they post articles every day about wildlife news. Articles include necessary information about various topics, such as endangered animals and can take on any focus of interest.
Some students choose to focus on how the decreasing biodiversity effects the economy specifically, while other writers choose another area to pursue. These young activists have received an overwhelming outpour of support, as they are commended for their hard work and thorough research on endangered animals.
“The organization’s meaningful mission, intriguing content, credible foundation and online presence have also connected us to collaborators around the world, including activists in Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Canada and even Tanzania,” Liu said. “Thus far, we have been collaborating with nature bloggers, wildlife photographers and even field researchers hoping to share their work with a broader audience.”
Within a few months, these students have gained an exponentially higher readership, as they have accumulated more than 3,600 readers globally. The students hope to use these connections to gain a greater audience of readers. In the near future, the LIWC leaders also hope to do community fundraising oriented around conservation where people can learn about ways to help the environment.
—Leila Sassouni is a contributing writer for Anton Media Group