Disney Conservation Fund awards grants to global conservation projects and celebrates cast members who help make it possible

This year, the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) is thrilled to be awarding grants to 60 nonprofit organizations that are leading critical efforts to create a healthier home for people and wildlife.

These projects represent collaborative work between scientists, educators and communities around the world to conserve and restore habitats, control and reduce threats to wildlife, teach children about nature, and promote ecotourism and livelihoods. sustainable that help people and animals.

The fund is proud to support a new cohort of amazing projects this year and we also want to express our gratitude to the members of the Disney cast who help make DCF grants possible. For the past 50 years, the cast members at Walt Disney World Resort have taken on new adventures, brought to life fantastic stories, and made dreams come true in all shapes and sizes … but did you know that they have also helped distribute more than $ 120 million in DCF grants to protect more than 1,000 species in 120 countries around the world?

Every day, members of the merchandise and food and beverage stalls at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park and other select locations at Walt Disney World Resort, as well as on board Disney Cruise Line boats and some Disney Vacation Club resorts, make magic growing customers’ passion for wildlife and their power to help the Disney Conservation Fund protect animals worldwide.

In addition, nearly 100 members of the Disney site cast from around the world, from veterinarians to animal caregivers, scientists to chefs and educators to communications specialists, form committees that review proposals from nonprofit organizations. for-profit seeking funding for their conservation programs. These cast members volunteer to review applications, discuss the merits of each project, and provide recommendations for awarding available funding.

The DCF received a record number of funding applications in 2021 from worthy organizations leading major conservation work. The diverse background and extensive experience of these dedicated cast members is critical to understanding and evaluating which proposed projects have the greatest impact on conservation and the ability to help create a brighter future for wildlife, people and habitats.

We are pleased to present some of our cast members who have continually offered their time and talent to support the Disney Conservation Fund and critical projects around the world:

Meet: Eduardo Valdez, director of operations of the Animal Nutrition Center

Member of the Central / South American Committee, 5 years

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being a Disney Conservation Fund reviewer?

A: Every year for the past five years, I look forward to seeing which projects have the potential to receive DCF support. The variety of conservation problems and conservation needs are immense and increasing each year in the Central and South American region and around the world. DCF has been a powerful catalyst for improving wildlife conservation in the region; many of the projects we supported have had huge and positive results for conservation. I am pleased to see that the funds support the Re: wild, Jambatu and Amaru Amphibian Conservation Center “Empowered Communities Saving Harlequin Toads” project this year because community involvement is critical to its success. project and will benefit toads, habitats and people. . As Walt Disney said, “conservation is not just the business of a few people. It’s an issue that worries us all. “

Karen Pellot

Meet: Karen Pellot, responsible for the guest experience: merchandise

Disney’s Animal Kingdom merchandise, 11 years old

Q: What motivates you to support the Disney Conservation Fund?

A: I am motivated by the many passionate and dedicated casts in my area that make it their daily goal to share information about the Disney Conservation Fund with guests. They make every commitment memorable and inspire our customers to help make a difference. I find it fun to take the cast on different experiences, whether they are volunteers, helping with the supervision of the purple martin singing birds, beach cleaning or a conversation with an Animal Keeper. Exposing the cast in ways that can affect the future of conservation inspires them and helps them become great advocates for the DCF program. This is the legacy I want to leave behind; cast members who inspire others to make a difference.

Mary Lueder

Meet: Mary Lueder, animal caregiver

Europe, Middle East, committee member of Australia, 6 years

Q: Which project makes you most excited to see support this year?

A: Conservation has been important to me for a long time. I love supporting promising projects and seeing the review process has been a great learning experience. This year I am very excited about the “Red Rewilding Australia’s Red Center” project. Many species in Australia are endangered and facing challenges, and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy is creating a massive, predator-free habitat where endangered native wildlife can be safely reintroduced. They are dealing with conservation issues on a large scale and I can’t wait to see the results.

Sierra Pelizza

Meet: Sierra Pelizza, the Disney Animal Kingdom educational guide

Disney’s Animal Kingdom, 4 years

Q: What motivates you to support the Disney Conservation Fund?

A: I love the major programs that support and raise awareness about the Disney Conservation Fund because I can be the source of inspiration for animal conservation. Sometimes I get to be there the first time guests see an African elephant or a white rhino in person, and I will be their first conservation connection. I love sharing my passion for these animals with guests and knowing, supporting amazing projects like the work of Save the Elephants in Kenya to prevent conflicts between elephants and humans by using bees as a deterrent natural against elephants making crop attacks.

Dawn Keeney

Meet: Dawn Keeney, Merchandise Host

23 years at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, 31 years at Walt Disney World

Q: What motivates you to support the Disney Conservation Fund?

A: What drives me is to keep alive the legacies of Walt and my father. My father instilled in me a love for nature and Walt was always my hero. And, of course, the animals and the planet. By educating people about the importance of nature, we can come together and make a difference. Everyone who visits us at Disney’s Animal Kingdom gets to know a little more about what we do for wildlife.

Chef Gary Jones

Meet: Chef Gary Jones, culinary environment specialist

Member of the Maritime Committee, 1 year

Q: Why did you become a DCF reviewer?

A: I think there is a connection between the great work of DCF, the project concessionaires and the goal of our operations teams to serve 100% seafood with environmentally responsible resources in our national locations by 2022. The chefs play a important role in providing magic and surprise delights the moments with sustainable seafood. The Disney Conservation Fund supports projects that help keep our ocean ecosystems in balance, so our chefs can prepare wild-caught seafood and enjoy it from present and future guests. This year I am very excited about a project by the China Blue Sustainability Institute to protect the Chinese white dolphin. With two of our theme parks in China, it’s important to support projects that increase public access to conservation knowledge. Disney chefs in China are also focused on supporting vibrant ecosystems that can provide excellent seafood to their guests.

Bethany Dauner

Meet: Bethany Dauner, head of education

Member of the North American Committee, 3 years

Q: Which project makes you most excited to see support this year?

A: I love seeing projects that support pollinator conservation, such as this year’s community program for the conservation of scientific monarchs led by the National Wildlife Federation, especially when it comes to exciting children and students for the impact they can have on their backyards. The little things that run the world need assistance and attention, and we can have a direct impact on this conservation problem from home.

These are just a few of the many members of the Disney cast who are the magical and authentic heart of the Disney Conservation Fund, and we, and communities and wildlife around the world, are very grateful for your dedication.

For a complete list of the most recent DCF grant recipients, visit disney.com/conservation.

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