Air Date: Week of April 16, 1999
Tyler Githens, winner of the Stonyfield Planet Protector Contest, joins us to talk about his award-winning poem and why helping the earth is everyone's job.
CURWOOD: Children see the world through fresh eyes, and sometimes, just in their discovery of things we already supposedly know, kids can find new insight. Consider Tyler Githens, a 12-year-old boy from Reading, Pennsylvania, who recently won the Grand Prize in a contest sponsored by Stonyfield Farm Yogurt for the best ideas to protect the planet. Here is his award-winning poem, "Earth Protector."
I am the Earth Protector.
My daily work is great.
Because the earth is begging me,
"Help before it's too late."
And so I don my working gloves
To set upon the chore.
I slow the earth's pollution rate,
Making forests clean and pure.
I collect from the woods recyclables,
Which are then placed in my bin,
Shipped to a recycling plant
Where they are reused within.
I ride my bike or skateboard.
This saves some gasoline,
Except on mile-long family trips
This helps to keep the air clean.
I help our planet's critters
By cleansing their littered homes.
They also share the Earth, you know,
And deserve clean biomes.
People do not realize that
We need to help much more.
We need to clean the precious woods,
Make them clean as a kitchen floor.
If everyone would help me,
The world would be much cleaner.
So listen to the calling Earth
And help make it much greener.
CURWOOD: That's a wonderful poem. Where'd you come up with the ideas for your poem?
GITHENS: Near by my house they were doing a construction site, and we all live up in the woods. They were taking out all the trees they could on the hillside, and they had already started construction. They had taken out, like probably around 100 trees already. So I wanted to write about how it was before and how my friends used to go out, collect bottles and glass. So I'd ride on my bike or skateboard, which is something I do a lot in the summer, because it's easy to get around. I don't have to bother my parents to get a car ride. So I wanted to tell some of the little things I did to help.
CURWOOD: Now, if you had to give us grown-ups a report card on how we're doing, how do you think we're doing in our job to protect the Earth?
GITHENS: Well, considering the Earth is in a pretty bad condition right now, for overall I'd say, like, Ds. Because they have, like, destroyed parts of the Earth. But now that they're realizing that we can't just, like, keep doing this, they're trying to help it. But it took them a little too long to realize that, so I'm going to have to give them just a barely-passing grade.
CURWOOD: It doesn't seem fair to me that you as a kid have to stand up and say something about the problem that the Earth is having. That it should be our responsibility as adults to leave you a better place.
GITHENS: Well, that's how a lot of kids in our class feel. Because, you know, they hear about this in school, and in science our teacher showed us pictures of, like, diagrams of the Earth, that are like, well, it's not our fault. I mean, our parents were here a long time before we were. But, you know, they feel that, you know, it's not like because we're destroying the Earth. It's because the people before us were. And I mean, why shouldn't kids stand up and talk about it? It's like everybody's an equal. I mean the only reason the adults have control over them is because they're older and feel they're more mature in every way.
CURWOOD: Tyler Githens is the Grand Prize winner in the Stonyfield Farm Planet Protector Contest. Congratulations, Tyler.
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