City has Turtle Crossing Signs Thanks to 2nd Grader's letter to Mayor

A child from Indiana found out how to make a difference and helped save some turtles.


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Jack Wietbrock loves turtles and what 8-year old boy doesn't. Now his love for the reptiles has led to the first Turtle Crossing sign in West Lafayette Indiana.

The city is home to Purdue University and overlooks the Wabash River. It also has many ponds and lagoons, and Cherry Lane Road is surrounded by small ponds. Turtles regularly cross the busy road as they go from pond to pond.

Not every turtle makes it across safely. Seeing turtles that had been hit by cars really made Jack unhappy according to his mom Michelle Wietbrock.

"About the third time it happened, there was a baby with one of them and we helped the baby cross the road," Wietbrock told Good Morning America. "Once I got back in the card my son said, 'I wonder if we should write a letter to the mayor.' I said, 'OK, sure!'"

That night, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, the second grader wrote a letter to West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis that said: “Dear Mayor Dennis, There are turtles crossing the road and they need our help. Can you please put up a turtle crossing sign? Thank you.

Jack even included a drawing that showed a stopped car and a person carrying a turtle. He captioned it , "We saved a baby turtle."

A few weeks later, Jack received a reply to his letter. Mayor Dennis said that he was moved by the boy's compassion for the turtles and since the city's parks department has a machine that can make custom signs, Dennis commissioned the first "Turtle X-ing" sign for the city, according to GMA.

The mayor also wrote that the sign was going to be presented at the next city Board of Works meeting and invited Jack and his brother to attend.

Dennis said at the presentation, "The great thing about West Lafayette is we embrace the unique and, in some cases, the odd. So, we felt, 'You know what, there's something we can do here that's going to be kind of cool and celebrates Jack's initiative on making us aware of a problem.'"

Jack, who was asked to say a few words at the presentation said, "I just want to say I care about the whole Earth and everyone on it. That's all."

Wietbrock tweeted a photo of Jack and his little brother Teddy, 4, next to one of the signs writing, "This happened today and I couldn’t be more proud!"

Two turtle crossing signs went up on Cherry Lane Road the next day. Wietbrock told GMA that the photo and story is being picked up by news outlets. She said, "we hope it encourages people to make a difference."

One little boy's compassion and love for animals – and turtles – led to a city's action. This should inspire us to speak up about conservation in a big way. If we all lend our voices, we can save our endangered species, even the small pond turtles.

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