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Craniac Kids in Action - Minnesota









Century Junior High School in Forest Lake, MN organized and conducted a run-a-thon to help support a worthy cause.

Students became passionate about the Operation Migration program early in the year during their environmental education class.

Eager to make a difference, 7th grade student, Cassie Giesner, organized and planned the event.
Teaming up with the physical education department, science students took their normal *Workout Wednesday* and made their laps count for the cranes.

Students were encouraged to raise just $2 apiece so that they could sponsor two miles for the Operation Migration MileMaker program.

Austin Wagner, Angel Thao, Cassie Giesner, Hannah Star

However, they far surpassed this goal running over 4,000 laps and raising over $1000. Students raised enough money to sponsor a total of five miles for the program. Several students raised over $50 each, including Angel Thao, Austin Wagner, and Hannah Star. Century students make a difference not only in our community but across the globe!

Craniac Kids in Action - Georgia

In June of 2007, OM received a letter in the mail from Gwen Bailey of Athens, Georgia. Included with the letter were several checks, totaling more than $500, and the story of two Craniac Kids. Gwen wrote:


襳e donations were raised by Adrian Tasistro-Hart and Elliott Radcliffe. The boys participated in the Youth Birding Competition, on April 28th and 29th, sponsored by the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Georgia. As part of this event, the boys took in donations and pledges based on the number bird species they identified in a 24 hour period. They chose to raise money for Operation Migration after hearing at talk and seeing a slide show on your program given at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society.奄


The work of these two enthusiastic Craniacs has earned them a big thank you from everyone on the OM team. Their donation, along with all the others that we have received from Craniac Kids and concerned students around the globe has truly made a difference here in the office.


Craniac Kids in Action - Wisconsin

Schurz Elementary School in Watertown, Wisconsin held a penny drive to raise money for Operation Migration.  This year the school was able to sponsor 4 miles of the 2008 migration!!!  That is over $800 raised by a student body of approximately 300 kids.  Pictured are a group of third grader students who studied the whooping cranes and charted their migration progress and the schools penny drive progress.  SCHURZ SCHOOL ROCKS!!!

Craniac Kid Ann Howden, daughter of OM member Margaret Howden of New Glarus, WI., shared an interesting story with us about some recent school work. We've been told that Ann is a 24/7 enthusiastic supporter of OM and Whooping cranes.

Ann chose to do her science fair project on Operation Migration and the science behind the ultralight-led Whooping crane migration. Not only did she receive an "Outstanding" rating from the judge, she was specially commended for her in-depth knowledge of the subject.

Congratulations to Ann from the OM Team!

Columbus Middle School was one of three schools drawn to win a presentation by OM team members. They had been entered into a draw because of their early registration in the Change4Cranes fundraising program. In the coming weeks we will post photos and stories from the other two winning schools as well. If you are interested in joining the Change4Cranes program, please visit the sign up page.

One of the very best things I get to do in this job, and I mean the very best, is outreach. I love talking to people and playing ‘evangelist’ trying to convert the 'unaware' into Craniacs.

During migration, as you know, we have a wee bit of downtime. (This year, sorely needed thanks to 710.) Luckily for me, downtime equals an opportunity for outreach. So it was yesterday that Brooke and I got to go to Columbus Middle School in Columbus, WI and preach to an outstanding group of 85 sixth grade Craniac Kids.

These students enrolled in OM’s Change4Cranes program, and were one of three schools drawn to receive a visit from OM team members. The class, under the leadership of teacher Linda Maier, has been learning about Whooping Cranes and Operation Migration since the start of the school year. And boy, have they ever learned. The questions they asked kept both of Brooke and I on our toes, and when we asked them questions, not one went unanswered. The highlight for me, I think, was when Brooke demonstrated the dreaded ‘swamp monster’ and all the kids agreed that he would be scarier without the tarp on! LOL

After our talk was over, Ms. Maier took us on a tour of her classroom and also showed us the computer lab, where, on display, were all the posters the students had made of the Whooping Crane. On each poster they also wrote up ‘Crane Facts’, which were very informative. Brooke and I marveled at the creativity and artistic skill that went into each poster.

This visit was also a very humbling experience. The time and energy that these kids put into their quest for knowledge, and their action on behalf of OM and the cranes, proves that it doesn’t take someone big, rich and important to make a difference.

Bev & Brooke visit Columbus Middle School Bev & Brooke visit Columbus Middle School

Operation Migration would like to put out a special thanks to the Third Grade S.O.A.R. (student Options and Resources) students at Schurz Elementary School in Watertown, Wisconsin. Through their school-wide fundraising efforts, they've raised $130 to help support the 2007 migration!

Their interesting fundraising activity gave students and teachers the chance to purchase guesses as to when they believe the cranes will reach their winter destination in Florida. Once the cranes get to Chass, anyone guessing that date will have their name put into a hat to be drawn.  The winner will receive their very own 岲ick the crane.Ⲿ
On top of their fundraising, the students have created a bulletin board, displaying facts about the whooping crane, pictures, the migration route, and the progress of this year୩gration.


Every year the 4th graders of Alexander Middle School in Nekoosa, Wisconsin make 1000 paper cranes in an assembly line style in the "Crane Folding Factory," so folding paper cranes is not new to Wisconsin.

One day, a couple of students finished early in art class, and Mrs. Skibba gave them a large piece of paper, they decided to fold a large paper crane with a wingspan measuring about 18". One student in room 405 then made the statement that it would be fun to make the world's largest paper crane.

After finding out that the world's largest paper crane had a wingspan of 215 feet, a decision was made to try to fold Wisconsin's largest paper crane. They could not find a record for Wisconsin, so they are now claiming it.

At least we know that it's Nekoosa's largest paper crane!

Once again a group of Craniac kids have used their youthful enthusiasm to produce results! Recently we received a package from Alexander Middle School in Nekoosa, WI, telling us about the work of Ms. Hartman and Ms. Dudley࣬asses. Together these two classes initiated a letter-writing campaign to Robert Malone, Chairman and President of BP America. They eventually sent a package including letters from every student as well as 625 paper cranes (one for each mile), and asked for donations of fuel or funding from BP.

 Unfortunately the children never heard back from Mr. Malone. But rather than give up, they decided to ask the local stores and communities to help support OM 㴡rting with the local BP station. The students began by selling paper cranes, but also put together posters and letters explaining Operation Migration෯rk and asking people for support.

 The students篲k bore fruit and together they raised nearly $600. Of greater importance was the fact that they had educated the people of Nekoosa and surrounding neighborhoods about the plight of the Whooping crane and OM०forts to help restore this endangered species.

 OM would like to offer its sincerest thank you to everyone in Ms. Hartman and Ms. Dudley࣬ass 鯵r work has really paid off, and you have truly demonstrated that you are true blue Craniac Kids.

Above: Dropping off information at the local BP

Above: Selling cranes at the local mall.

Above: The school hallways are adorned with some of the class's cranes

Craniac Kids in Action - Missouri

Pictured above: The eagerly anticipated recipe book

Laurie Johnston, a teacher for the 3rd grade gifted program in St. Louis, wrote in to OM to tell us about a recent fundraising program initiated by her students. In her letter Ms. Johnston told us:

Our curriculum revolves around the whooping crane reintroduction project, and when the 2006 cranes died this year, my students wanted to take some action that would make a difference, and so a service learning project was born. We created an illustrated cook book entitled Recipes to Whoop For! to raise money for Operation Migration. The book included recipes for humans as well as for birds. The cook book was a huge success!

 My students, their families, and the teaching staff here appreciate all that you do to help the endangered whooping crane!

At OM we are eagerly anticipating the arrival of a copy of Recipes to Whoop For! and trying out some of the treats (the human ones, of course!). We truly appreciate hearing about support like this from youngsters around the country!

Their creative approach to spreading the word of the Whooping crane and Operation Migration really took off in their community, and illustrates the innovative and unique talents of our Craniac Kids. The entire OM team would like to send out a special thanks to everyone in Ms. Johnston೼sup>rd grade classes!

Above: Ms. Johnston's gifted 3rd grade class

Craniac Kids in Action - Kentucky

A special thanks must go out to the Craniac Kids in Ms. Trout's class in Louisville! Together they illustrated and assembled a special quilt celebrating Operation Migration and all of our efforts. Ms. Trout has once again shown us that the future of Whooping cranes is safe in the hands of such gifted and talented kids! Thank you from everyone at OM!

Above: Showing off the quilt crafted by Ms. Trout's class

Because it is with the children of today that lies the hope for all the world's creatures and their habitats, we at Operation Migration are never more pleased than when our efforts, and our work on behalf of the endangered Whooping crane, inspires them.
This was the case for the children at the Louisville Kentucky's John F. Kennedy Montessori School. Their teacher, Lori Trout, wrote to tell us what the kids there had decided to do to help OM get the Class of 2006 from Wisconsin to Florida. They decided to write to ExxonMobil to ask for the company's help.
On this page you will find Lori’s cover letter to ExxonMobil Corporation's CEO, Mr. Rex Tillerson, copies of the letters her students wrote, and at the bottom of the page there, you will also see several pictures of the students at work.
Should there be other teachers, students, classes, schools, who would like to reinforce the message sent to ExxonMobil by the 'Craniac Kids' from John F. Kennedy Montessori School, Mr. Tillerson's address is:
 Mr. Rex W. Tillerson, CEO
 ExxonMobil Corporation
 5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
 Irving, Texas 75039-2298

Lori's Letter to ExxonMobil

Lori Trout
John F. Kennedy Montessori School
3800 Gibson Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40211  

September 22, 2006 

Mr. Rex W. Tillerson, CEO
ExxonMobil Corporation
5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
Irving, Texas 75039-2298

Dear Mr. Tillerson: 

Please treat the contents of the package that comes with this letter with care, for within it lies the hopes and dreams of hundreds of school children at John F. Kennedy Montessori School. Why are they sending you their hopes and dreams? Because they think you can help make their dreams come true. What are their dreams? To put a broken piece of the world back together again. 

After our commemorative study of the events of September 11, 2001, the students in my classroom wanted to find a way to make the world a bit better. From our classroom study of Operation Migration’s work in trying to bring Whooping cranes back from near extinction, the students knew their venture was in dire financial distress. Much like the Whooping cranes, without assistance, Operation Migration faces a crisis. After some quick calculations, the students realized that bringing in the contents of their piggybanks, as well as begging mom and dad for spare change, would barely make a dent in meeting Operation Migration’s needs. The students quickly identified oil companies as having two sources for helping the Whooping cranes: fuel and money. Now you know the purpose of the students’ letters.  

The box also contains a chain of paper cranes symbolizing the miles of the migration route. The students have faith, and truly believe that your company will help Operation Migration. Before you throw the box into the pile of the myriad of other funding requests that must cross your company’s desks, I challenge you to take just five minutes to read the letters. Then please take another five minutes to go to and read about this small, dedicated group of human beings who become "Whoopers" for nine months each year. Their devotion to establishing a migrating flock of Whooping cranes in the eastern United States is especially evident in their poignant stories contained in the section "In the Field." Read the September 17 story for an exceptionally compelling account of the perils the Whooping cranes faced just days ago. Continue reading to the entry for September 6th to see just how difficult raising funds has been this year.  

If the students have not provided enough reasons why you should help fund this venture, and you have questions about Operation Migration’s work, I suggest that you use the "Contact us" section of the website. The Operation Migration staff is always ready and willing to answer questions! I am sure Joe Duff’s phone number (the leader of the team) would become personally available to you very quickly if you asked!! 

Again, please take a bit of time to read the heartfelt requests of a group of students trying to help change the world for the better. My students will be anxiously awaiting your answer!  

Lori Trout

Below is an excerpt from Jefferson County Public Schools' Monday Memo, the weekly newsletter for theJCPS staff in Louisville, Kentucky. The entire newsletter is also available to the public here.

A school hallway poster encourages other students to get involved. Trout’s students operated a booth at the Kennedy Montessori Elementary Fall Festival on Fri., Oct. 27, to recruit the help of fellow students and parents.
Lori Trout holds an origami crane that her students created during their campaign to protect the migrating birds.

Group effort taking flight

How long does it take to transform a fourth grader into a citizen of the world? It took Kennedy Montessori Elementary teacher Lori Trout about four days.

Since mid-September, Trout’s students have written persuasive letters; delivered speeches to other classes; taught origami to fellow students; and studied bird migration, geography, and weather patterns. The class is closely following Operation Migration, a nonprofit agency that uses ultra-light aircraft to assist birds with southern migration.

The idea for the project began on Mon., Sept. 11, when Trout’s students read and discussed Andrea Patel’s book On That Day, which challenges students to find hope and courage from a tragedy. Students began brainstorming about what they could do to help put the world back together.

By the end of that week, Trout’s students developed a campaign to study and support whooping cranes. They delved into research about the birds, and each student chose to monitor the migration of an individual bird, which was possible through Operation Migration’s Web site.

Unable to write their own checks, students began a campaign to encourage donations. Students decided to draw pictures and write letters to solicit funds from ExxonMobil Corporation. View the letters from Trout and her students at

Exxon has not yet responded, but the letters attracted the attention of a California woman, who donated $500 for the class project. Another donor who saw the students’ letters responded with a $200 donation, which sponsors one mile of the migration. Students continue to brainstorm about making a movie that can be distributed to elected officials or about placing an advertisement on a blimp.
“Students have this energy, and they are thinking long-term,” Trout says. “By doing things together, they can make a difference. They’re making their parents aware, and other students are getting excited and writing letters too.”

Sample of the Letters from the Kids


Photos from John F. Kennedy Montessori School


Craniac Kids in Action - Indiana

Demonstrating the capabilities of young minds, Y-press is an Indianapolis-based periodical bureau bringing youthful perspective to various news-stories. In November of 2006 the Y-Press staff joined the growing ranks of Craniac Kids when several writers experienced first hand the wonders of a fly-over. They shared their experiences in a January column in the Indianapolis star (an excerpt is below).

Future reporters Laura Mangan, 12 and Meera Patel, 15 were fortunate enough to experience the Muscatatuck flyover on November 18th of the 2006 migration. After the initial flyover, they also got a chance to watch a crane roundup. 

The publishing of this column benefits OM by sharing our story with adults, but more importantly brings it to young readers and future Craniac Kids. Congratulations to everyone at Y-Press!

A flock of 18 white birds glided through the cold, blue sky of southern Indiana in the early morning, guided by three small planes disguised as mama and papa birds.

Their stop during the 73-day trip from Necedah, Wis., to Dunnellon, Fla., in mid-November was part of an extraordinary effort by Operation Migration to save endangered whooping cranes by establishing a wild flock of migrating birds.

Teachers and students from all around the country are incorporating the study of whooping cranes into their lesson plans, and some are raising money for the effort.

Dylan Lear, a fourth-grader at John F. Kennedy Montessori School in Louisville, said, "The whooping crane projects made me like nature more than I used to, because we're actually saving endangered animals." Other students from the Kennedy Montessori School and three Y-Press members were among about 200 people who gathered in Indiana in November to watch the whooping cranes continue their migration south.

They gathered at a gravel parking lot at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge around 7 a.m., well-equipped with cameras. The preserve is about an hour's drive south of Indianapolis in Seymour.

A distant hum could be heard about 8:20 a.m., coming from behind tall trees. Everyone turned toward that area and focused their cameras.

Fifteen minutes later, people exclaimed, "There they are!" They pointed at the ultra-light planes as they circled and then coaxed the birds to follow. The large, white birds gracefully flapped their wings in a slow steady beat. They disappeared into the shining sun within 30 seconds.

Alan Belth, a sixth-grader from Pinnacle School in Bloomington, was thrilled by the experience. "I had a lot of fun because I'd never seen whooping cranes before, and I thought it was really cool."

After the cranes were no longer visible, most of the crowd at Muscatatuck began to pack up their cameras and drive away.  

After 15 minutes, the cranes suddenly reappeared far in the sky. They approached closer and closer, finally flying directly overhead, with the planes scrambling to get the birds back in formation.

Without warning, the birds had decided to scatter. The pilots had to come up with a strategy quickly to get the young cranes back in line heading south.

As parents would treat their children, the pilots did not leave anyone behind. They flew in wide circles in the blue sky and performed what they called a "crane roundup" to persuade the impulsive youngsters to follow them. It was almost like the planes were teaching the birds the game of follow-the-leader.

For the complete story, please visit Y-Press

Craniac Kids in Action - Vermont

Ms Dobson’s 3rd grade students in Alburgh, Vermont have been following the Whooping Crane migration for several years. They have incorporated the project into all aspects of their lives in the classroom, science, social studies, writing, technology, art (see the whooping cranes hanging above their heads in the photo below), social behaviors (bullying, as a few of the cranes do) and now music!

Mr. Jon Gailmor, a world renowned musician (and fellow Vermonter) spent a week with the children at the Alburgh School in northern Vermont as a visiting artist, singing with them, writing with them, and creating a beautiful CD filled with songs created by the children.

He let the children in each class choose their topic, and Ms. Dobson’s class voted hands down to write a song about the Whooping Cranes! Living on the shores of beautiful Lake Champlain, which is a part of the eastern flyway for migratory birds, the children are quite familiar with the sounds of migrating geese twice a year, and they were thrilled when our local newspaper reported a sighting of Whooping Crane #309 at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in central Vermont.

Please take a minute to download the file (mp3 1.8 mb) and enjoy the sounds of fifteen 3rd graders and the wonderful Mr. Jon Gailmor singing their ballad - The Wondering, Wandering Waltz! Follow the link to his very own website as well to enjoy his talents even further at

Craniac Kids in Action - Florida

Art for the Sky in Leon County, GA - Gilchrist Elementary School, Whooping Crane Project

Above images courtesy of: Lou Kellenberger Photography, Tallahassee, FL

Overall image courtesy of

For 5 years Ms. Burke at Curtis PS and Palm Harbor Middle School in Florida has had her classes follow Operation Migration's progress. At each school, she has created Wildlife Action Teams with great success. In 2007 more than 800 students brought home information about OM to their parents, and the Action Teams have worked hard to put together a wonderful contribution.

Congratulations on the hard work, and thank you to everyone at Curtis and Palm Harbour 

Craniac Kids in Action - Illinois

Margaret Mead once said 嶥r doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.튉 When we look at the support we堲eceived from schoolchildren across North America , these words could not ring truer. 

OM received a package today from Ms. Peraino and her class in Illinois. The children had been following our work, and were trying to deal with the losses in February. To remember the class of 2006 they decided to raise funds and spread awareness of the project. Led by Ms. Peraino this class of intrepid 4th graders organized and ran a charity garage sale, and shared their story with the local newspaper. 

OM would truely like to thank Ms. Peraino͊ class for their work to help save the Whooping crane. This future generation of Craniacs has spread the word of conservationism and educated a few more people about the plight of the crane. Congratulations!

The OM team would like to send out a special thank you to Abby Studnicka and her daughters, Nadia and Eve, in Illinois. Together they have spent many hours folding and stringing together 1,300 origami cranes in efforts to raise funds and awareness for Operation Migration - with a little help from their community they have already raised more than $2500! Not enough can be said about the gratitude OM feels for everyone that has contributed to our cause over the past 6 weeks. Grassroots support and tireless efforts from people like Abby and Nadia have shown us just how important our work is to all the Craniacs out there.

Nadia and Eve holding their "Youth Conservationists of the Year" awards from the Illinois Audubon Society. Photo courtesy of the Chillicothe Independent, Chillicothe IL.

Nadia at their booth at the local Krogers Supermarket. Nadia and her sister Eve hard at work folding cranes.

One of the strings of 18 cranes they put together.

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