“I am small, but I have giant ideas.”
-Robbie Bond, youth activist and founder of Kids Speak for Parks
Robbie Bond believes that his voice matters. And he wants other kids to know that their voices are powerful, too. Just past his fourteenth birthday, he is already a seasoned environmental activist with his own nonprofit, Kids Speak for Parks. TSS Murie Spirit of Conservation awardee Rose Marcario selected Robbie as this year’s Rising Leader in recognition of his public lands advocacy work. This past week, Robbie road tripped with his family from their home in Reno, Nevada to visit TSS and receive the award. During his time at TSS, Robbie visited Mountain Academy (MA) students at both campuses.
The fourth and fifth graders at the Teton Valley campus had lots of great questions for Robbie. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation (with some edits for length and clarity). We hope you’re as inspired as we are by the curiosity and desire of the upcoming generation to experience and protect our public lands.
(MA student): Which national park or monument have you made the most impact in?
(Robbie): I would say Bears Ears National Monument. President Trump tried to get rid of 27 national monuments, and one of those was Bears Ears, which President Trump shrunk by 85%, which is huge! It cut a ton of land from the Monument, a lot of which was home to Native American artifacts and ruins, which once they’re gone we can’t get them back to the way they were so I was really trying my hardest to get that national monument restored. I was able to meet with the Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary of the Interior [Deb Haaland] is the person who has the final say in whether or not these national parks and monuments get preserved. I had a great opportunity to speak with her and I told her about why these places should be protected, and a lot of other people also talked with her. She said that she would prefer to reinstate these national monuments. Other than that, I would say national parks in Hawaii, because I’ve hosted and participated in beach clean-ups.
(MA student): How many national parks or national monuments do you think you have gone to?
(Robbie): I haven’t really counted all of them, but if I had to guess I’d say over 50. And if I was counting repeat visits, I would say closer to 70-80.
(MA student): What national monument were you visiting in that video? (Robbie had shared this video from the Grow Bolder Docuseries earlier)
(Robbie): I was in Bears Ears National Monument, which is really important because it’s the original home of a bunch of Native American tribes and they got really messed up by the former President trying to get rid of that national monument. That’s why I try really hard to protect that area because it’s not fair to the Native American people who were there originally. Also, it’s really beautiful so it doesn’t just have value in its indigenous heritage, but also for its beauty. That national monument is really important to me, so that’s why they filmed it there.
(MA student): What have you learned from your travels?
(Robbie): I could talk for hours! I have learned so much from my travels. I’ve learned a lot about native plants and animals in the national parks. We’ve met with a lot of tour guides who have been willing to show us around the National Parks and show us cool things. I’ve learned the history behind why the national parks have been created. With Bears Ears, it’s to protect Native American heritage sites. With other Parks, it’s to protect some unique geological feature, which means something earth-related, like a mountain range.
(MA student): How many friends have you made during your travels?
(Robbie): A lot of friends. I actually meet kids pretty regularly at national parks. And I’ve also met a ton of kids at schools where I speak who want to help me with Kids Speak for Parks.
Next, Robbie shared a short clip from Marvel where he gets to play his own character, superhero Roving Robbie, who has the power to teleport himself to any national park!
(MA student): Did you have a partner when you started this?
(Robbie): I guess you could say my partners are my parents because they really helped me out a lot when I started my nonprofit, as well as my granddad, who inspired me in the first place. I’ve also partnered with many other organizations- schools, nonprofits, and companies who have been willing to help me. Patagonia has helped me by inviting me to speak at their stores. The Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society have helped me a lot. They helped me in Washington D.C where we worked to pass the Transit to Trails Act, which allows kids in low-income areas to get to nature more easily.
Thank you Robbie and members of the 4th and 5th grade class at the Teton Valley Campus of Mountain Academy!