This 10-Year-Old's Goal Is to Save America's National Parks

When Robbie Bond realized public lands were threatened, he started speaking up

By Sam Schipani

August 30, 2018

Robbie Bond, the founder of Kids Speak for Parks, plays near Lake Tahoe.

Robbie Bond, the founder of Kids Speak for Parks, plays near Lake Tahoe. | Photo by Jamie Kingham

In April 2017, Robbie Bond and his parents were on a family vacation when they heard the news: President Trump had signed an executive order mandating the review of 27 national monuments for the purpose of downsizing or eliminating some. The Bonds had planned to visit some national parks using the Every Kid in a Park pass later that year. After hearing about the review, Robbie decided he needed to do something about it. The then-nine-year-old launched the website Kids Speak for Parks to show children around the country how amazing public lands are, to expose the threats that parks face from oil and gas exploration, and to help organize against the monument reductions.

Don't let Zinke kick a bunch of fourth-graders out of national parks and monuments

"The more you spread the word about what's happening to our national monuments, the more people will be able to protect them," Robbie says.

Over the next six months, Robbie saw more than a dozen national monuments and parks. His parents recorded videos of him exploring, talking to local officials, and making friends with other young visitors. "Kids can appreciate the monuments more than adults because they're kind of like a playground," Robbie explains.

Robbie has also collected over 5,000 signatures in support of parks, spoken at local schools, and attended BLM public scoping meetings. Last September, Robbie traveled to Washington, D.C., where he met with Interior Department officials and representatives from his home state of Hawaii—just in time to celebrate his 10th birthday.

For now, Robbie has put his travels on hold for school, but he is working on the pilot for a documentary series and partnering with Google Expeditions to create virtual reality "field trips" to the national monuments. In June, he was the only child to participate in the Children and Nature Network's International Leadership Summit, where he brainstormed with other grassroots leaders on how to give children equitable access to parks.

Robbie has a message for children who want to join his mission: "Make your voice heard. I think it's best to have kids' voices. If the monuments were to be destroyed, it would have a bigger impact on kids."

This article appeared in the September/October 2018 edition with the headline "A Monumental Effort."