By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) senior Kevin McKenna, 19, has a love for elephants and rhinoceroses that dates back to early childhood visits to the zoo and the circus. Last year, he became a member of both the United States Zoological Association (USZA) and the Zoological Association of America (ZAA). Both organizations raise funds to stop poaching and illegal ivory trades. McKenna is doing his part at ARHS to make sure that these animals will be alive and thriving for future generations.
McKenna is also president of the Helping Paw club at ARHS. The 12 member club runs fundraisers and works to educate the school community about the plight of elephants and rhinos. Past fundraisers have included pizza sales, 50/50 raffles and tie-dye shirt sales. The Helping Paw club continues to run pizza sales after school once or twice per month.
As a way to spread awareness about the plight of elephants and rhinos, McKenna is currently creating a website which will include public service announcements.
In 2014 McKenna became involved with the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), which works to create a sustainable future for elephants. According to the website https://elephantconservation.org, the organization works to “generate and effectively invest resources to support elephant conservation, education, research, and management programs worldwide. Through our passion, expertise, knowledge, and partnerships we inspire and engage people to ensure a vibrant future with elephants everywhere.”
McKenna is passionate about supporting IEF.
“People should help this organization because 96 elephants and at least seven rhinos die each day due to poaching and ivory trade (which is fueling organized crime). The number of African elephants decreases by 2-3 percent every year,” he said. “Helping support this organization will work to save these animals.”
McKenna plans to attend college after graduation from ARHS. Wherever he may go, he plans to continue fighting for elephants and rhinos. After college, he hopes to work with elephants in a free contact environment – a place which allows elephant keepers and handlers to share the same space with the elephants.
As long as poaching, conflict and habitat destruction continue to threaten these animals, said McKenna, he will be passionate about helping them.
To learn more about the International Elephant Foundation visit https://elephantconservation.org