CINCINNATI — What do some Mt. Lookout 4th graders, cookie dough and endangered Asian elephants have in common? Mix them all together in a bowl, and you can bake up a whole lot of caring.
‘The baker girls,’ as they’re known, have experience. They have written proof in the form of a thank you note from the Cincinnati Zoo which reads: “Thank you so much for the bake sale proceeds – the manatees eat a lot of lettuce and kale. Keep up with the great fundraising work.”
Young Marguerite Jackson took that mission to heart – and took the idea to four other girls in Mrs. Baker’s 4th grade class at Summit Country Day.
Individually they’re known as Lucy, Mabel, Anne Marie and Ava – but collectively, they’re ‘The Baker Girls.’
After serving up the sweet stuff to raise funds for the manatees in the past – on this go ‘round, they had a bigger target in mind: the biggest land animal on the planet, in fact, the elephant.
“When we looked into it and saw elephants were getting a new enclosure, we wanted to help them,” Maribel Hartmann said.
“We did a bake sale – sold brownies, cupcakes and cake pops,” Lucy Viveros said.
“It felt great – a lot of people donated money for the animals,” Anne Marie Misrich said.
All told, the four girls raised $908.
“It makes me feel good,” Marguerite Jackson said. “I thought maybe two or $300, but that’s a lot more.”
“It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Ava Boyer said.
That led to a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a chance to meet the great ladies of the elephant exhibit up close: Mai Thai, Jati and Schottzie.
And the pachyderms were just as pleased to be introduced to the young ladies as the 4th graders were to meet the tusked titans.
Zoo leaders made sure to thank The Baker Girls personally.
“When we found out what y’all did, I told the team, and they were very excited about what you did,” elephant manager Cecil Jackson, Jr. said.
That means the zoo has about a thousand dollars to put towards the $150 million it’s working to raise.
“These girls stepped up; the Baker Girls get it done,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard.
The elephants will get way more room in the zoo’s ‘Home to Roam’ campaign – which should also allow them to add to the herd.
“Not all zoos will have elephants – go big or go home – keep in areas big enough to breed, have them in a multi-generational herd – so this is a big commitment,” Maynard said.
The hope is for people to understand these great animals they share the planet with are worthy of protection. It's a mission The Baker Girls are proud to be a part of, proving there’s no such thing as too young to make a difference.
Maynard and Jackson, Jr. said they want more people to come to the zoo and be inspired to help. Both men said what the girls did on a local level really contributes to the global conservation campaign.