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Kid Conservationist Makes an Impact

Elaine Loft
Not many sixth-graders can claim to be the host of a YouTube channel, public speaker, and published author on their resume. New Derryfield student Jack Dalton, the self-dubbed “Kid Conservationist,” is clearly a young man of action. And the world is taking notice. Dalton’s work has been recognized locally and globally, including being a Top 20 Finalist for the first-ever TIME Kid of the Year 2020, the President's Environmental Youth Award winner 2021, Action for Nature International Eco-Hero Notable Mention 2021, and the OURF Judge's Favorite award winner in their 2020 international video contest for a 10-in-10 orangutans video. Dalton recently returned from Los Angeles, where he gave a presentation at the Indonesian Consulate.

Dalton’s concern for orangutans started several years ago, during a family visit to the zoo in Memphis, TN. There he learned the palm oil industry has destroyed a wide swath of orangutan habitat. The presenter also enlightened the audience about foods that contain palm oil and discussed how to avoid products that would cause harm to animal populations. 

Dalton took these messages to heart, and composed a letter to three food corporations, urging them to stop using palm oil. His effort, part of a school project, traveled far and wide thanks to a video recording made and posted by his father. The YouTube video featured Dalton reading aloud the letter he sent to the Nestle Corporation, warning that the use of palm oil would lead to deforestation which would lead to loss of animal habitats. “You wake the next morning to find that Nestle is cutting down your home. No more fresh food. No more clean water. No. More. Home.”

Since that time, Dalton has produced over a dozen videos, many in a “read aloud” format. He loves to read, which led him to write his own, self-published book: “Kawan the Orangutan--Lost in the Rainforest.” Like other authors, Dalton has hit the circuit, promoting his book at schools, libraries, and public events. For every copy purchased or donated, funds go to the Orangutan Alliance to plant trees in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.

At Derryfield, Dalton is an enthusiastic host to prospective students and participates in Model UN. Regarding how his current coursework relates to his animal justice work, Dalton cited his Academic Skills class, in which students compose a thirty-second “killer intro” in which they aim to convey: who they are; their passion; what makes them unique; and how their current opportunities relate to their passion. Dalton says he had no problem applying the “killer intro” to his orangutan work, but he had to step outside his comfort zone when students were next asked to give a persuasive speech on a different topic. This time he chose another passion--Marvel movie characters. Jack Dalton, like many Derryfield students, is clearly a young man with a wide variety of interests.

The Derryfield School

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