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Students make pouches to help Australians rescue burned animals

 Students at West Harrison Elementary learn about the wildfires in Australia in class on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (Leigh Waldman / WOWT)
Students at West Harrison Elementary learn about the wildfires in Australia in class on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (Leigh Waldman / WOWT) (WOWT)
Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 4:03 PM CST
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The worst wildfires in over a decade are ravaging Australia inspiring people across the world to spring into action to help.

After hearing a presentation on the wildfires in Australia, Mondamin, Iowa students got to work on pouches to help rescue burned animals half a world away.

Connie Betts, a naturalist at the Harrison County Conservation Board, travels from school to school every month to talk about animals in their area.

The wildfires killing an estimated one billion animals in Australia has pulled her focus there.

"It's going to change their ecosystems, it's going to change their habitats," Betts said. "Possibly lead to extinction of some animals."

From over 9,500 miles away, it's easy to feel powerless.

However, the students in Harrison County asked for a way to help.

Third-grader Zach, who's favorite animal is a zebra because both of their names start with the letter "Z", was a little confused about where their pouches were going.

"We are cutting for animals to survive in Africa I believe," he said.

But he and other students were eager to help.

Which is why they all brought in their own t-shirts to cut up and tie into soft pouches to house the burned animals.

"Once they get their burns taken care of, they need to just be able to rest," Betts said.

Rest and rehabilitate as the firestorm continues.

"They haven't even gotten to the hottest time of the year, the summer. That's coming up in February and March, so this may go on two to three to four months even more," Betts explained to the students.

By the end of the school day, these kids will have made 50 no-sew pouches, the kindergarten through second graders will get their craft day tomorrow.

The project is inspiring some for the future.

"Like every Friday or every Saturday, you could just do this for a night," a group of eager fifth-grade girls shared.

Betts plans to send the pouches off to several groups in Australia once all of the students she works with have finished.

If you don't have a t-shirt to spare, there are other ways to get involved in conservation efforts:

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