ACK Mary's picture
Fri, 2009-12-18 22:13 by ACK Mary · Forum/category:
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by Mary Wykstra

My visit to the US began and ended in Michigan. On 5 Sep, I was met by Guy Combes where we planned joint activities for promoting ACK and the link with the Soysambu Conservancy. The Soysambu Conservancy is where I began cheetah work in Kenya (2001) and is a location of interest for a potential cheetah sanctuary. Soysambu was registered as a Conservancy in 2008 and although it has a strong prey potential for supporting cheetahs, was shown in studies in 2002-4 to have land lock issues that prevent the survival of free ranging cheetahs (CCF Kenya internal report, 2004). The Conservancy is addressing issues related to wildlife corridors, but is also proposing to develop a cheetah sanctuary within the conservation area. More details about the proposal are available upon request.

Volunteer, Amber Bengston, met me in Michgan to deliver and assist in sorting crafts that she carried with her after her volunteer time with ACK. Crafts were divided into boxes and prepared for shipping to the events where fundraising would include craft sales. I was on the road from the 8th Sept through the 15th October and by the time I met my sisters in Florida... I was exhausted!

I was OFF the 16-21st October, only checking email and facebook, and putting the finishing touches on the presentation for Michigan schools. In the past few years I have been giving a bit back the school system that helped make me who I am today and where my nieces, nephews and great-nieces and nephews now attend. My niece Brenda was in charge of the itinerary for this portion of the trip – she organized 5 schools and press opportunities. I added a small touch to the presentation on the 22nd . The Martin Public School presentation was treated by a visit from the Columbus Zoo cheetah and dog. The presentation focused on the status of cheetahs in Kenya and aimed to inspire children to act locally and dream globally in what they can do to help improve the earth and the lives of people everywhere. The kids made donations and bought some crafts. Several press personel attended the presentation and some wonderful things were written in my hometown news papers. Thanks a million to the press who joined us and especially to Brenda for making it all happen.

On the 23rd we visited Jenison where the presentation had the same focus, but without the aid of the live cheetah. On Monday, the 26th Phyllis drove me to Kenowa Hills school in Grand Rapids where we have given presentations in the past, students and faculty welcomed the updates. Phyllis then drove me to East Martin School where I spoke to family and friends in the school where I had attended grades 1-8. Again the students were very interested in our work, the press gave us good coverage and my proudly helped in organizing everything.