The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has received a $100,000 grant to support conservation studies on the effects of climate change on Arctic wildlife, thanks to kids who participated in Disney’s “Friends for Change: Project Green.”

During the month of August, kids voted online for their favorite environmental causes through the Disney initiative, which also calls on young people to adopt more eco-friendly practices such as recycling and reducing their daily energy consumption. Through “Friends for Change,” the participants chose how more than $1 million in funds would be distributed to environmental projects over the next year. WCS and four other organizations received funding for climate-related projects as part of the first round of voting.

Since 2003, WCS scientists have studied the many species of migratory birds that nest in the coastal plain of Arctic Alaska. In their work to assess how current oil development affects nesting birds, partners have included federal scientists and oil company scientists. WCS researchers have discovered that birds are breeding earlier than before on their Arctic nesting grounds, an effect of the changing climate. Other species such as polar bears have been impacted by global warming as well. WCS researchers discovered this the hard way last year, when a visit from a landlocked polar bear forced a field crew to desert their camp. This phenomenon is a direct result of disappearing sea ice, a critical part of the bears’ habitat.

“We’re flattered that young people are helping to fund our Arctic wildlife conservation work,” said Dr. Steve Zack, Coordinator of WCS’s Pacific Northwest and Alaska Program. “The $100,000 grant will go a long way in supporting our WCS team and their activities in studying Arctic wildlife and how changing climate may impact these species.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society has a long history of conservation work in Alaska. WCS’s first field studies were surveys of fur seals in Alaska’s coastal waters and of mammals such as moose, mountain sheep, and bears in both Alaska and British Columbia. In 1956, Dr. George Schaller helped conduct research on the wildlife of Alaska’s Brooks Range, an effort that led to the creation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1960.

Read the press release: Kids Help Fund Research on Climate Change and Arctic Wildlife through Disney’s Friends for Change: Project Green