By Madison Lemelin, Rainforest Trust

Frogs are 10-year-old Justin Sather’s favorite animal. His fascination with the species began with a blanket he had as a baby, and has blossomed from there. Now, Justin’s love for frogs has led him on a mission to protect the planet.

In kindergarten, Justin learned that nearly one third of frog species are on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water and habitat destruction. He discovered that scientists consider frogs an indicator species–a species whose condition provides information on the overall state of an ecosystem.

“Frogs breathe and drink through their skin so they are sensitive to their environment,” said Justin. “So when they suffer it tells us the world needs our help.”

This knowledge empowered Justin, he wanted to save his favorite species and his planet. With help and encouragement from his mom, Sheri, he set an ambitious goal: to be a critical part of the “30×30” initiative and help conserve 30% of the planet by 2030, for the frogs and beyond. “It all started from an idea that turned into an incredible mother-son journey of learning to be brave and staying determined, to create a world Justin envisions for himself and his generation,” said Sheri.

Last year, Justin joined the Youth Council of Reserva Youth Land Trust, an international group of young people that is leading an initiative to create the world’s first entirely youth funded, 244-acre nature reserve in Ecuador’s threatened Chocó cloud forest in partnership with Rainforest Trust. In celebration of his birthday, Justin raised the $730 necessary to purchase one acre of land for the project, which was matched by the Rainforest Trust SAVESChallenge to pay for a second acre.

Justin has recently started collaborating with a herpetologist who is teaching him about all the many frogs within the Chocó, including one of his new favorite species, the Glass Frog.

In the future, Justin hopes to continue using frogs to educate his peers about the beauties of the natural world and inspire them to help him save it. “I want to learn why other kids like nature and inspire them to want to protect it too,” said Justin. “When they get older they will already know how to take care of the planet. We are the future generation.”