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Kids Leap Into Action for Frogs

Students lobby to save California red-legged frogs

Kind News magazine, July/Aug 2015

Samantha Lambarena testifies before legislators on behalf of California red-legged frogs. Photo courtesy of the Assembly Democratic Caucus  

How do you spend time after school—shooting hoops, making a snack or playing a video game?

What about getting a bill passed to save frogs? That's what kids at Sea View Elementary School in Salton City, California, did last year.

They're called the Prodigy Cats, a group of kids in an afterschool program who care about their state and the animals in it. When their teacher, Ms. Haddad, told them that the California red-legged frog was on the endangered species list, they came up with a plan to save them.

  • The California red-legged frog is now California's official state amphibian. Photo by Chris Mattison/Alamy

The frog, once abundant throughout California, is now threatened due to habitat loss and invasive species (non-native animals brought into the state who prey on the frogs).

The kids thought that if they could get the frogs named the official state amphibian, more people would want to protect them. They convinced Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez to draft a bill and present it to the legislature.

The Write Stuff

Led by fifth-grader Samantha Lambarena (pictured at top) and sixth-grader Freedom Payne, kids at the school wrote hundreds of letters to state legislators asking for their support of the bill.

When it was time for a committee of lawmakers to consider the bill, Samantha and Freedom traveled to the state capitol. Along with Dr. Kerry Kriger from Save the Frogs!, they explained the threats the frogs faced. After another huge letter-writing campaign, the kids celebrated the news that the bill passed and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law! Thanks to the Prodigy Cats, as of January 1, the California red-legged frog became California's official state amphibian.

Asked about the experience, Samantha says, "Getting a bill signed into a law is not an easy job, but if you really want it, you have to work hard for it!" They sure did—and the frogs will benefit from their hard work.

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