Posted: Apr 18, 2022 8:00 AM
Puma Marx, a sophomore at Newtown High School, has won support from the nonprofit Ecology Project International (EPI) to fund the illustration of a children’s book.
Puma plans to illustrate her mother’s next book children of wonderland series of books – because her mother happens to be author Dori Marx.
As announced by EPI, it is a field-based science and conservation organization that connects scientists with local and international students and educators in ecologically critical environments in Costa Rica, Galapagos, Belize, Baja Mexico City and Yellowstone. Since 2009, EPI has awarded funds to individual students in five countries to fund student conservation projects.
Prizes are awarded to projects that best demonstrate the potential to positively affect an important conservation issue. Applicants are required to prepare a budget, submit a proposal and identify mentors. Grantees provide regular progress reports to EPI.
Puma explained in a recent phone interview that she wanted to illustrate a children’s book about Yellowstone to highlight key species, especially wolves.
“This particular book will focus on wolves and their role as a keystone species in Yellowstone,” Puma wrote in its application. “It will also explore the general environment of Yellowstone, including how the different species in the park interact with each other and how the environment has remained so successful.
“With this knowledge,” Puma continued, “I hope children will grow up to take environmental action for these animals, or realize how vital they are and not support laws that would harm them unnecessarily. By influencing the minds of young people, however small or large, can influence the future on a much larger scale than individual action ever could.
According to EPI, funds from this year’s Alumni Leadership Award will support the production, promotion and distribution of the book.
Puma said she first heard of EPI when looking for a summer conservation program because she was already considering conservation as a possible career field. His mother then discovered a nine-day summer camp in Montana. Through the program, Puma said she stayed in the area to learn more about conservation, bison, and the Yellowstone environment in general.
It was a fun and educational experience. She returned home with photos, drawings and knowledge of issues “people don’t really think about”.
When she was younger, Puma said she liked to read books about keystone species, or about a species or organism that helps define an entire ecosystem, according to National geographic. Yellowstone wolves are a keystone species.
“I’ve always found it so fascinating,” Puma said.
Puma said that her mother children of wonderland The book series is aimed at elementary and middle school students, and the books examine environmental issues in a mystery format.
Marx used a different illustrator for each book in the series, and the illustrator always lives in or comes from the region in which the books focus.
“I’ve wanted to illustrate a book for a long time,” Puma said. “I love art and I decided to illustrate this book with her.
Through EPI’s $500 prize, Puma said it would be supported to fund several aspects of the project.
“It’s going to be a really cool collaborative experience,” Puma said, adding that she loves feeling like she has a direct influence on helping others learn more about the wolves in Yellowstone.
In a recent phone conversation, Marx said she hoped to see the next children of wonderland book – the sixth in the series – published early next year by Noreaster Times LLC of Sandy Hook.
Marx said she was “really lucky” to be able to work with Puma on the next book.
“I’m really grateful to EPI for sponsoring and giving him this grant, and also being able to go out into the community and promote Yellowstone and the importance of the ecology of this national park,” Marx said.
Education Editor Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at [email protected]
Puma Marx, a sophomore at Newtown High School, with his family’s pet chicken, Princess Poofs.
Puma Marx Ecology Project International (EPI) 2022 Alumni Leadership Award.