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NWRA and National Tigers for Tigers Coalition Join Forces to Help Tiger University Mascots Conserve Wild Tigers

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Over the past year, the National Wildlife Refuge Association has been mentoring an inspiring group of college students who are passionate about tigers – the ones that serve as mascots at their schools and the wild ones that are in serious decline, with fewer than 3,200 in existence outside of zoos. These students created Tigers for Tigers (T4T), a network of college students from across the United States whose schools boast the tiger as their mascot. Their purpose is to improve the status of tigers, both captive and wild. With NWRA’s support through a new outreach campaign, they’ve created the National Tigers for Tigers Coalition to raise awareness among students and tiger fans at the nation’s 50+ tiger mascot schools about the plight of these majestic animals.

Sean Carnell is NWRA’s Spirit Campaign Coordinator and the coordinator for the National Tigers for Tigers coalition. Check out his blog post to get the full story about this incredible outreach campaign:

Students of Tigers for Tigers ask Senator Tim Scott to support the Multinational Species Conservation Fund and re-authorization of the Save Vansihing Species Stamp in Washington DC. | Carrah Lingo
Students of Tigers for Tigers ask Senator Tim Scott to support the Multinational Species Conservation Fund and re-authorization of the Save Vansihing Species Stamp in Washington DC. | Carrah Lingo

I’m a Clemson Tiger. If you know anything about Clemson University, you know what that means. I’m crazy about my tigers! And by the time I graduated this past May with a B.S. in biological sciences and a minor in wildlife and fisheries biology, I had also fallen in love with my mascot’s namesake – real tigers in the wild.

During my time at Clemson, I was president of the university’s Tigers for Tigers Club, and in April, we organized the first National Tigers for Tigers Summit to bring together students from tiger mascot schools to discuss ways to make a difference for tiger conservation. We were fortunate to have NWRA president David Houghton attend the summit as a guest speaker. He talked about how T4T could really build a new constituency for tiger conservation, and what we could do to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to conserve tiger habitat.

The summit really got me excited, and it made me realize that Clemson was not alone in our passion for tigers, so we founded the National Tigers for Tigers Coalition so students from other tiger universities could join our effort to build a tiger conservation movement. It’s truly gratifying to be able to share our experiences and opportunities with other students who want to make meaningful change.

In Washington, D.C. Tigers for Tigers also met with USFWS staff to discuss ways to collaborate and support the Save Vanishing Species Stamp. | Carrah Lingo
In Washington, D.C. Tigers for Tigers also met with USFWS staff to discuss ways to collaborate and support the Save Vanishing Species Stamp. | Carrah Lingo

Without my experience in Tigers for Tigers, I would most likely be sitting at home as a recent college graduate wondering what I wanted to do in life. Instead, I have found my passion, matured as a young adult and I know that Tigers for Tigers is making an impact on the world.

Things have really taken off since graduation. In June, NWRA invited the students from the Tigers for Tigers Coalition to Washington, DC to speak with our representatives in Congress about funding tiger conservation efforts and reauthorizing U.S. Postal Service’s Save Vanishing Species Stamp. A lot of the staff we talked with knew exactly where we were coming from, since they were from tiger schools, too. If you’re a tiger, you want to protect the tiger. After all, it is our mascot! We even created a short documentary about our trip.

While we were in DC, David also introduced us to Krishna Roy and other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff that inspired us to promote the Save Vanishing Species Stamp on our campuses. Some of the proceeds from the stamp are donated to tiger conservation, so it was a perfect fit for T4T. We took on the Save Vanishing Species Stamp, and T4T clubs are actively promoting it on their campuses. In fact, Clemson University T4T developed a Public Service Announcement that reaches more than 80,000 football fans via an in-stadium jumbo-tron on an on-going basis.

Clemson Tigers for Tigers jumbo-tron asset, displayed at the Clemson vs. Georgia home football game. | Carrah Lingo
Clemson Tigers for Tigers jumbo-tron asset, displayed at the Clemson vs. Georgia home football game. | Carrah Lingo

I’m excited about what’s next: the 2nd Annual Tigers for Tigers Summit at the University of Missouri on April 4th-6th, recruiting more tiger mascot schools and developing more initiatives for T4T clubs. And we’re even thinking about how we can engage professional sports teams named after the tiger.

NWRA has been our biggest supporter since the formation of the National Tigers for Tigers Coalition, and we are incredibly grateful for their support. To learn more information about the National Tigers for Tigers Coalition, visit www.t4tcoalition.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For Sean Carnell’s full bio, please click here.

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/2013/11/nwra-and-national-tigers-for-tigers-coalition-join-forces-to-help-tiger-university-mascots-conserve-wild-tigers/