Kids Saving the Rainforest

Happy 21st Anniversary to KSTR!

KSTR LogoBaby toucanBy Mckenzie Wing, Volunteer Coordinator & Biologist

Kids Saving the Rainforest turns 21 this month. This means that, as an organization, we are growing up. We’ve moved out of Mom and Dad’s place and are probably a few years into college. We’re now old enough to order a drink in the US, although with a name like ours we’re still likely to get carded.

But in serious terms, it’s impressive how far we’ve come from a simple family reforestation project that rescued the occasional local sloth orphan. We are now one of the main points of contact for animal rescue in the area, admitting around 150 animals per year into our rescue center. We get nearly that number of humans admitted, too, into our volunteer program, giving passionate people—young and old—an opportunity to work with wildlife and promote conservation. We’ve planted tens of thousands of trees as part of our reforestation program in the area.

Kids Saving the Rainforest header

VERy young toucan growing feathersBut it’s the little stories that stand out after all that time. It’s the paraplegic sloth who was first electrocuted and then hit by a car who recovered his ability to move his limbs after months of physical therapy and acupuncture with our crew. It’s the one-eyed hawk who—even after years in a cage—managed to stretch her wings and take to the sky. It’s the hatchling toucan who was brought here without a single feather, naked as a plucked chicken and eyes closed, who was eventually raised until it was able to fly off with full plumage and colorful beak. It’s the time someone—namely, myself—had to climb a tree and ended up tumbling down a cliff with the sloth I was trying to rescue (both were unharmed).

So it is with a mixture of pride, respect, wonder, and slapstick humor that I look back on our 21-year history. And a little guilt. Because, after all, I’ve only been here a year now. What right do I have to take credit for all the work that’s been done over all these years? Shoot, they probably made me write this article because everyone else was too busy actually doing the work of saving animals. I’m a fraud.

Grownto ucan ready to be releasedBut even within these last 12 months, you wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen. I saw a Jaguarundi that was found unmoving in the middle of a highway come in with nothing but a concussion that it was able to shake off and attack me as I was trying to help sedate it. I watched a member of our staff scale a tree and brave power lines to retrieve an abandoned baby kinkajou. And I cannot say this enough: I fell off a cliff with a sloth and neither of us sustained damage. If that’s what’s happened in 12 months, what in the world has this place endured in 21 years?

The imagination revels. And credit to those people who have been through it all.

So if you see a member of KSTR, shake their hand, pat them on the back, and ask them for a story or two. And maybe buy them a drink. After all, we’re old enough.

The Founding of Kids Saving the Rainforest

by Janine Licare,
Co-founder of Kids Saving the Rainforest

I write to you today to let you know, not so much about the organization, Kids Saving the Rainforest, (KSTR) but more on how it got started. KSTR is a 501 (C) 3, non-profit organization that was founded 21 years ago in 1999 by my best friend Aislin and me.

Here is Our Story

Janine and Aislin with a volunteerBeing the young kids that we were, we decided that we wanted to start making money all on our own. We started out by making Paper-Mache bottles and painted rocks as paper weights. We set up our little (but crazy-cute) roadside stand on a “recyclable” cardboard box, selling our items to passing strangers.

Although we made a couple of bucks from some random passerby’s, our intentions to save the rainforest had not yet begun.

Instead, we would take our earnings from our hard work to an ice-cream parlor/deli stationed right next to my friend’s house. Our main thoughts were—to INDULGE! Keep in mind though, that we were not your typical ordinary children. We took much more pleasure in eating the finer foods; Beef Stroganoff, pesto, sushi, or spinach, than your mere chocolate chip ice-cream. With this in mind, and a big smile on our faces, we would head over to the deli and order a roasted half chicken with a side of pasta/potato salad and a pickle to go. Who really needs a mango ice-cream sundae?

Now, you are probably wondering… Soooo, where did Kids Saving the Rainforest come from if all these two girls would do is eat?

Well, the truth is, that after we had our fill of chicken (which only took a week or two), we decided that maybe our money could be used for something a little more useful; and living in an area with so much biodiversity, we decided we should probably do something to save it.

So my friends, there you have it! The real birth of KSTR, a story few knew, but many will now laugh about (hopefully!)

If you would like to know more about Kids Saving The Rainforest, PLEASE log onto our website at

Tropically yours,
Janine Licare, Founder and Spokesperson
Kids Saving the Rainforest