The week's good news: June 18, 2020
It wasn't all bad!
Teenagers create 13-mile 'Bee Byway' to save native bees
Joshua Nichols and Luke Marston are using their STEM skills to save the declining bee population. Bees are important insects, supporting their local ecosystems by providing food and habitats for other species. Nichols and Marston, both 14, are members of the award-winning robotics team Ruling Robot Falcons, based in Newport News, Virginia. Using a geographic information system, Nichols and Marston plotted a 13-mile "Bee Byway," identifying dozens of sites across Newport News where they, along with volunteers, could plant native and bee-friendly plants. With this pollinator corridor, bees are protected from isolation, improving their chances of survival. During the pandemic, Nichols and Marston have delivered plants to more than 60 homeowners to keep the Bee Byway project rolling along, and over the summer, they hope to host a scavenger hunt at Bee Byway sites to help educate the community about bees and ways to save them.
Adorable baby pygmy hippo makes debut at San Diego Zoo
Akobi, the first pygmy hippo successfully born at the San Diego Zoo in more than three decades, made his public debut this week, two months after his birth. His name is Yoruba for "firstborn," a fitting name as he is his mother Mabel's first calf. Pygmy hippos live in the forests of West Africa, and there are fewer than 3,000 left in the wild. That's why Akobi's caretaker, Leanne Klinski, is so thrilled by his birth. "The fact that we got to this day is a huge, huge, huge thing and we're really excited," she told the San Diego Union-Tribune. Breeding pygmy hippos isn't easy, and they are keeping a close eye on Akobi to make sure he is healthy. So far, everything looks great — Akobi, who weighs 40 pounds, is eating regularly and Mabel's "motherly instincts have been right spot on," Klinski said.
Virginia librarian uses drones to drop books off at students' front doors
School librarian Kelly Passek is using the latest technology to deliver books directly to her students. Passek works for the Montgomery County Public Schools in Virginia, and wanted to find a way to ensure kids still had access to books during the pandemic. She's had packages delivered to her house via Wing drone, and thought this same service could be used to drop books off at students' homes. Her superintendent agreed to try a pilot program, and since last week, students have been able to go online and request books to check out, with more than 150,000 titles to choose from. Passek packs them in special boxes, and leaves the rest up to Wing. "Our libraries are essential and unique parts of our community and it is extremely important for our students to continue to have access to the resources that are here in our libraries in order to guarantee their success," Passek said.
Minnesota woman helps clean the streets during her runs
Laurie Hanson is known as the Trash Lady of Ramsey, a nickname she takes in stride. Hanson lives in Ramsey, Minnesota, and started running when her daughter Jessica was deployed to Afghanistan. When Jessica returned home, they ran a 5K together, and soon, Hanson was running 10Ks and half-marathons. In 2019, she finished two marathons, but with coronavirus canceling her races this year, she needed to find something else to motivate her. When the snow melted in March, Hanson noticed how much garbage was on the streets. She began bringing trash bags with her on runs, filling them up on her way home. Hanson started documenting each trek, and since March 23, has collected more than 141 bags of trash while covering 110 miles. Hanson told the Star Tribune several people have shared that she's inspired them to pick up trash during their runs. "I feel like I'm helping out the environment and like I've done something worthwhile," she said.
Customer keeps Florida cafe afloat by ordering 100 sandwiches a day for hospital workers
On the last day Bill's Cafe in Naples, Florida, was open before having to close down due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the restaurant's regulars handed owner Bill Salley two envelopes. Each one contained money, with some earmarked for Salley and the rest for his employees. "It was so nice and kind of him," Salley told WINK News, but it wasn't enough to help his restaurant survive. A week later, the customer called him with a question. "He tells me, 'Bill, would you be interested in sending 100 sandwiches a day across the street to Naples Community Hospital?'" Salley said. "Before he even finished, I said, 'I'm in.'" The customer, who asked to remain anonymous, gave Salley about $40,000 during the time he was closed. This not only benefited Salley and his employees, but also the hospital workers, who enjoyed their free sandwiches.