award-winning author and illustrator
SCHOOL VISITS: Pre-K - 9
An experienced, enthusiastic and inspiring speaker, Brooke's engaging presentations promote the power of literacy, and the vibrant beauty of the natural world. She is available for school visits, in-service classes, writing workshops, conferences and festivals. Her popular school programs can be presented in person or live-online. Brooke is the founder and executive director of Authors for Earth Day.
Year(s) of participation: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
A4ED school visit photos & blurbs:
BROOKE MENTORS KIDS AT CHEYENNE
CHEYENNE TRADITIONAL SCHOOL in Scottsdale, AZ USA
With BIG thanks to award-winning teacher Ms. Donna Gabriel and wonderfully engaged principal Mrs. Grace Stombrez, my visit to Cheyenne Traditional School was an absolute delight! This was my second A4ED event at Cheyenne (see 2011 below).
After talking with 4th grade students about my work with animals, as well as my journey and process as an author—topics that captured their attention, being animal lovers and writers themselves—we discussed the plight of the world's most endangered marine mammal. The kids fell instantly in love with this adorable porpoise.
Vaquitas exist only in the upper Gulf of California where they are drowning in illegal gillnets. Learning that there are now only 6-22 left on the whole planet, the students were eager to protect them. They wholeheartedly agreed that EVERY organization working to help vaquita, whether through legislation, education or direct action, is essential to the cause. One student even suggested we skip the vote and just split the money between the "nominees." I appreciated his sense of fairness. But in the end, there was a landslide vote to support Pesca ABC.
A donation of $1000 to Pesca ABC will help fund local fishermen as they actively search for illegal gillnets in the waters where vaquitas live. The recent gillnet removal program has already found and destroyed thousands of illegal nets—gillnets that are no longer a danger to vaquitas.
Cheers to Cheyenne students and staff for hosting my Authors for Earth Day event and for committing to share the story of vaquita with others. Together, we CAN save critically endangered species from the claws of extinction.
Hohokam Traditional School in Scottsdale, AZ
BROOKE GIVES KIDS A CHOICE AT HOHOKAM
First, a giant THANKS to reading specialist Linda Tardie and the entire HTS staff for an amazing day! This year, my Authors for Earth Day school visit focused on the ocean with a special emphasis on the most endangered marine mammal in the world: the VAQUITA porpoise.
The vaquita is also the planet's tiniest cetacean. Vaquitas are drowning in illegal gillnets set by fishermen in the upper Gulf of California (the only place vaquitas are found). Now, with less than 20 individuals remaining, the species is truly teetering on the brink of extinction.
Since I'm working on a full-length book about the plight of vaquita, I wanted to share knowledge about this extraordinary animal with my youngest readers. In preparation for my 2017 A4ED event, ALL the students at Hohokam Traditional School, grades K-5, spent a month researching five conservation organizations working to protect vaquita, a great way for kids to consider and discuss several different approaches to solving the same problem.
WWF-Mexico is funding fishermen to pull derelict nets from the water. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is also helping with that project (they have already retrieved hundreds of nets!) and their volunteers are also patrolling vaquita habitat EVERY DAY to guard against illegal fishing. NRDC is leading a boycott on Mexican shrimp to pressure the government to take more action. The National Marine Mammal Foundation is leading VaquitaCPR: a captive-care program that will come into play this fall. And Viva Vaquita (which won my A4ED donation in 2015) is providing online information and educational materials to help build awareness.
When the day came for our A4ED visit, I was SO impressed by how much the students had learned as soon as I arrived on campus, they swarmed around and riddled me with wonderful facts! When we talked about how to save vaquita, everyone recognized that all the organizations are doing important work. But in the end, the winning votes went to Sea Shepherd, Operation Milagro III! (Milagro means "miracle.") I will be sending $800 to support their efforts. Everywhere I went, all day long, kids cheered with their hands in the peace (V) sign: VAQUITA!
BTW, my cool cosmic-vaquita tank-top was a gift from my friend, who works with monitoreovaquita.org.
All Saints' Episcopal Day School in Phoenix, AZ
BROOKE BESSESEN CONNECTS WITH STUDENTS AT ALL SAINTS
Look at these happy faces.
I absolutely LOVE my annual Authors for Earth Day school visit—"enjoying the company of smart, caring and motivated kids always makes me SMILE!
Thanks to All Saints' Episcopal Day School librarian Jenny Oleksak (that's our selfie) and the effort of the school's dedicated teachers, all of their students, grades k-4, were well prepared for our A4ED event. And everyone's enthusiasm shined through!
My presentations were met with eager attention and lots of great questions—not to mention the WILD cheering when I announced the recipient of our A4ED donation. After researching five conservation organization "nominees"—all important groups, doing important work—The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) won the student vote and earned my speaking fee of $800.
Why did the kids choose HSUS? They told me that HSUS cares for ALL animals, no matter the species. And they were especially impressed with HSUS' Animal Rescue Team, which saves thousands of animals each year from abuse and neglect. Many of the kids expressed hope to someday help animals and make a difference in the world. I told them they were already on their way...
M.C. Cash Elementary in Phoenix, AZ
BROOKE GIVES BACK AT MC CASH
VIVA VAQUITA!! was the school cheer at MC Cash Elementary in Phoenix, Arizona on the day of my A4ED visit.
Art teacher Jennifer Kuster (with me in the photo) coordinated the event and also helped the students make animal-collage ballot boxes for each classroom. Although the kids (700+ students, grades k-6) researched five excellent nominee organizations, their hearts were captured by the plight of the endangered vaquita.
Fewer than 100 of these tiny adorable porpoises are left in the world, trying to survive in Mexico's Gulf of California. The students were clearly committed to helping them because when they cast their ballots, Viva Vaquita! won by an overwhelming majority. The organization will receive $750. VIVA VAQUITA!!
Copper Rim Elementary in Globe, AZ
BROOKE EMPOWERS YOUNG READERS AT COPPER RIM
Wow! What a fun day!
Thanks to librarian Laurie Player-Weller (pictured with our mock check), I had an absolute ball talking about reading, writing and conservation (and making animal faces) with the kids at Copper Rim. This was the school's second Authors for Earth Day event—they hosted Conrad Storad last year—and Mrs. Weller plans to make it an annual event, so the students will grow up with strong environmental education. How cool is that?!
The race at the polls was fierce, with two organizations running neck and neck. All of us waited anxiously for the final ballots to arrive. In the end, The Gorilla Foundation won by a last-minute landslide and everyone cheered. The kids, teachers and I were very excited to support Koko the gorilla and her team of humans as they work to educate the world about the intelligence of our great ape cousins.
Our $750 donation was greatly appreciated. It prompted the organization to send not only a thank you to the kids, but to also send some wonderful gifts—library materials for students to enjoy into the future—a reminder of the impact they made for gorilla conservation.
DUTCH CREEK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Littleton, Colorado, USA
BROOKE CELEBRATES EARTH DAY AT DUTCH CREEK
Thanks to everyone at Dutch Creek—librarian Laura Reiman, the supportive staff and uber-enthusiastic students—"my 2013 A4ED school visit was a great success! After a month of researching and making weekly announcements about the five conservation organizations nominees on the school TV news, the kids voted to decide where to send my $750. Who won? Blue Ocean Institute! I was thrilled by the decision! The founder of BOI, Carl Safina, is also the acclaimed author of several compelling eco-minded books, including Voyage of the Turtle, Song for the Blue Ocean and The View from Lazy Point. He also has a new children's chapter book, Nina Delmar: The Great Whale Rescue, which he sent to the Dutch Creek library as a thank you for the kids' support. I know the students will love the read and I love that we've come full circle back to books. Conservation and literacy are both near and dear to my heart and I'm grateful to be able to make an impact through Authors for Earth Day.
LAVEEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Laveen, Arizona, USA
BROOKE SPEAKS FOR NATURE AT LAVEEN
Librarian, Silvia Cortez, and 3rd grade teacher, Jenny Kuster, coordinated a fantastic day at Laveen Elementary! I spoke with k-6 in the morning, then met with the 8th grade Writer's Club for an informal Q&A. Posters lined the school halls and every class cheered wildly as I began my presentations. The kids asked a lot of questions about how they could help protect animals and habitats and I pointed out how powerful (their own) writing could be in fostering change, not to mention the monetary contribution they were directing to support conservation.
At day's end we had a clear winner for the donation recipient—Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale, Arizona—an organization that cares for native Arizona mammals, like cougars, bears, javelina, foxes, bobcats and coyotes.
Thanks to everyone at Laveen for hosting such a wonderful A4ED event!
CHEYENNE TRADITIIONAL SCHOOL, Scottsdale, Arizona
BROOKE BESSESEN INSPIRES KIDS AT CHEYENNE
Librarian Teresa Spotleson (with me in the picture) hosted a fantastic Earth Day event! I was there 2 days so I could see all the classes K-8! The students had done their research and were very knowledgeable about the environment so it was no surprise that it was a tight race for which conservation organization should receive my A4ED donation. World Wildlife Fund slid into first place just as I was about to go on-air to announced the winner on the school news.
I believe in the power of these kids to shape a better, greener future for us all.
RHODES JR. HIGH WORLD STUDIES ACADEMY, Mesa, Arizona
BROOKE GOES GREEN AT RHODES!
Rhodes was absolutely fantastic! The school went all out for the ultimate Earth Day celebration. The students did an extraordinary amount of research into the organizations they were voting between. They covered several walls with posters about the nominees, and even ran video PSAs throughout the day sharing details about each organization. In the end, Friends of the Osa won the paperless polls and a check was written to support their efforts of sea turtle conservation on Costa's Rica's Osa Peninsula. The kids cheered!
Thanks Rhodes... you rock!
KYRENE DE LOS CERRITOS, Phoenix, Arizona
SUCCESS AT CERRITOS!
$750 was donated to the Ocean Conservancy in honor of the students at Kyrene de los Cerritos! The Ocean Conservancy noted the contribution in their quarterly publication (see media page) and sent the school a thank you along with a year's membership to their organization and classroom reading materials.