When news broke late last year that oil drilling rights in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were going up for sale, many environmentalists and animal lovers were stunned. Scientists predicted dire consequences for native wildlife, including the majestic polar bear. The sale was a bust (no major companies submitted a bid), but the threat ignited a need to act within Jackson High School sophomore Meghan Dillon, who created an online fundraiser to help protect the animals’ habitat.
How did you first hear about the plight of polar bear?
I follow the World Wildlife Fund on social media. That’s where I first found out about the proposal to drill in the arctic.
What made you want to get involved?
I think growing up in a home with pets and always being an animal lover helped. It made me sensitive to what polar bears endure with the continued erosion of their habitat. It’s estimated that the oldest, thickest ice in the arctic has melted by 95 percent. We’re losing the rest by almost 13 percent each decade. Even without the oil drilling, polar bears are in grave danger. I wanted to get involved because social media enables all of us to be much more active, even in things happening thousands of miles away.
So you organized your fundraiser.
Right. It’s on GoFundMe.com. There are several ways to find my fundraiser page. You can type this exact web address into your browser: https://gofund.me/faab48c5. You can also go to GoFundMe.com and search my name, Meghan Dillon, or the phrase “Helping Rescue Polar Bears and their Arctic.” The money raised goes to the WWF and their Adopt a Polar Bear campaign, as well as to the main WWF fund.
What are you hoping to accomplish?
Beyond raising money, my goal is to raise awareness. There are many ways to get involved, various petitions to sign to improve the lives of polar bears. To ban the sale of arctic drilling rights, to outlaw hunting them – about 900 polar bears are killed each year by hunters. It’s all just a Google search away. Jackson Local Schools’ mascot, of course, is the polar bear. I’m hoping this community rallies around the cause of protecting the habitat of real polar bears.
Who in your life inspired you to get involved?
I was raised this way. My mom has encouraged me to take on service projects. It’s a big part of her life. Every year she’s involved in various projects and clothing drives for children in need. At Christmas, our family is active in Operation Christmas Child. Each one of us has a responsibility to be the change we want to see.