This past April, when 9-year-old Robbie Bond learned that one of his favorite places, the world’s largest protected marine area — the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii — was among 27 national monuments threatened by the Trump administration, the Honolulu fourth-grader did more than get angry. He took a stand.
Robbie, now 10 and homeschooled, decided to launch Kids Speak for Parks to inspire other young people to speak up and convince their families and neighbors to sign a petition to save America’s parks and monuments for future generations. Thus far, more than 2,000 signatures have been collected and Robbie has personally visited a dozen of the threatened monuments to draw awareness to his cause.
“I want to tell President Trump and his administration, ‘Hands off — our national treasures aren’t for sale,’ ” says Robbie, the only child of Robin Bond, 43, a commercial diver, and Michelle Bond, 47, a science teacher. “I feel like we’re going the wrong way. We want to protect these special areas for everyone, not open them up for mining and drilling and private business.”
Through photos, videos and updates posted on his website and Facebook page, Robbie hopes to show everyone the beauty of places such as Bears Ears National Monument, Canyons of the Ancients, Craters of the Moon and 24 other national monuments that Trump ordered the Interior and Commerce departments to put under review.
“These places are so incredible — I’ve loved every one that I’ve visited,” he tells PEOPLE. “Probably my favorite so far is the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument in Utah. It has a cool place called Singing Canyon with all of these holes like Swiss cheese. It’s amazing and it’s under threat now for coal mining. That really bothers me. We should be using solar panels and windmills instead of mining for more coal.”
Robbie has always been passionate about the natural world, according to his parents, who are checking some items off their own bucket lists while taking their son from one national monument to the next.
“This is a great opportunity for him to get a whole lot of life experiences that he otherwise wouldn’t be getting in school,” Robin tells PEOPLE. “People hear him talk and they’re reminded of what it’s like to be a kid and live in the moment. Kids appreciate things differently and aren’t burdened by outside influences. That comes across in everything that Robbie posts.”
Adds Michelle: “We’re so proud of Robbie because he is a leader and an inspiration to his peers and older generations, showing them the importance of becoming stewards for our public lands.”
Robbie’s efforts have earned the gratitude of numerous environmentalists and naturalists, including Yvon Chouinard, founder of the Patagonia outdoor clothing company.
“Over and over, I’ve seen great things accomplished by only one person, whether it was taking down a useless dam, cleaning up a toxic canal or taking down an evil government,” Chouinard tells PEOPLE. “Robbie Bond is on track to be one of those exceptional persons.”
“I wonder how many times Robbie has heard that he is a ‘leader of tomorrow,’ ” adds Adrienne Bermingham, national program coordinator for Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots global youth leadership program. “Well, Robbie isn’t waiting until tomorrow. You don’t have to be an adult to start standing up for what you believe in and calling upon others to join you. Robbie is standing tall as an example to others, young and old, that what you do makes a difference and there’s no better person to take on the issues that matter to you than you.”
Although Robbie dreams of becoming an astronaut one day and living on Mars, he says there is plenty to keep him busy on Earth for a while.
“I still haven’t been to Yellowstone and Yosemite,” he says. “My goal is to see all of our national parks and monuments, so it looks like I’ll be doing this for years to come.”