How Awareness Really Catches Fire

The phone is ringing and a friend is excited to tell me there’s a discussion about frogs right now on WNYC radio. Robin Moore, the author and photographer of “In Search of Lost Frogs,” is being interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show (The Conservation Efforts Trying to Keep Frogs From Going Extinct). At the same moment, a Jersey City colleague is emailing me about the same thing and writes that she’s left a comment about Frogs Are Green and our kids frog art project on WNYC’s website.

During the interview they discuss many of the issues that frogs face today, including the deadly Chytrid Fungus and climate change. One caller asks about the drought situation in California and its toll on frogs. They also talk about how many frog species have gone extinct in the wild and at the same time new species are being discovered, as close as New York. They also talk about how important the medical research is as they test the poisonous skin of dart frogs.

dart frog by devin edmonds

Dart Frog courtesy of Devin Edmonds

Almost every day, Facebook friends post on my timeline or the Frogs Are Green page, or Tweet at us about frogs and/or the environment.

I’m sharing this because it was six years ago this May that I founded Frogs Are Green, and so many people laughed at this cause. They’d say, “Frogs? … Who’s going to care about frogs?”

I’m happy to tell you that in six years we have reached over a million people. Each month we have 13,000 visitors who look at more than 32,000 pages, which gives us an amazing bounce rate of 1.8 %. Yes, that is not a misprint, we have a 1.8% bounce rate. These stats have been holding steady for years and are again on the rise.

We didn’t used to post on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn (groups) and Twitter every day, but in 2014 we made a commitment to do so and reach more people than ever.

As the above story shows, our mission is working. Awareness really begins to catch fire when others know you so well that they support and advance your campaign goals without hesitation.

It all comes from zeroing in on a niche and being consistent by sharing every day. By being “top of mind” on a particular thing that’s so different, so unique, they just see frogs and think of Frogs Are Green.

10 Tips for building your nonprofit’s awareness and following

  • Make sure that your website (the nucleus of your online presence) is 100% on target in expressing your mission and goals. On your homepage be brief and entice, don’t overwhelm with too many calls to action. Make sure your brand and mission are crystal clear. Be sure you are blogging and/or adding new, valuable content consistently.
  • Be sure when you blog, post, or tweet, you are adding an appropriate and eye-catching photo that will prompt others to share it, not just “like” it.
  • Be sure you are using #hashtags but don’t go crazy with them, lest no one will see or read your post… (I see this a lot on Instagram; so many hashtags I can’t find the message!)
  • Don’t try to sell all the time with posts/tweets about buying products, classes or donating to your cause. Once in a while is all right, but you will really build your audience by sharing significant information. As they move around your website reading articles they will come to respect your efforts and just may click that donate button on their own.
  • Your “competition” organization is your friend. Remember, you are both trying to help others, save wildlife and the environment, and so those that follow those other organizations may follow you too! Be kind and retweet.
  • If you are planning to boost or advertise, make sure you are being selective about the information and target audience. Do your homework and know where your target is, both online or offline.
  • Remember that your target audience can be in many different places. Be sure to review your Google Analytics each week and identify if what you are doing is working. For example, if you are spending most of your social media time on Facebook but when you look at your stats you have more people visiting your site from Twitter, you should tweet more often than you are!
  • People consume content in many different ways, so be sure you are creating video for YouTube, audio for Podcasting, Powerpoint (for Slideshare or LinkedIn), photo galleries on Flickr, Pinterest and Facebook, blog posts that can embed these other media files, graphic images, and more… (and then share across social sites).
  • When you have new media to share, don’t post on every social site at the same time and then not post for a week until the next post. Schedule different places each day so your content is circulating all the time.
  • Be sure to alert the local media about events and other important news so that they can write about you. If you don’t tell them yourself, how do you expect them to know? Publicity helps awareness and begets more publicity.

Frogs Are Green was fortunate to interview Robin Moore on a podcast also. Listen here >> Robin Moore


If You Can Make It Here: New frog species discovered in NYC

Last week’s discovery of a new frog species in New York City was one of our favorite recent amphibian news stories. The story was picked up by newspapers both across the country and worldwide, from the BBC to the News Pakistan. We especially liked the story, not only because we are both native New Yorkers, born within an hour’s drive of where this frog was discovered, but also because it was discovered by a scientist from New Jersey (our adopted state.)

So here’s the story, as reported by the New York Times and New Jersey Newsroom.com:

While doing research in Staten Island (one of New York City’s boroughs) in 2009, Jeremy A. Feinberg, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolution at Rutgers University, heard an unusual frog call.  Instead of the “long snore” or “rapid chuckle” he would normally expect from a  leopard frog, he heard instead a short, repetitive croak. Feinberg suspected this frog might be a new species. He teamed up with Cathy Newman, a geneticist completing a master’s degree in genetics at the University of Alabama, to test the frog’s DNA.

Jeremy Feinberg

Newman compared this frog’s DNA with the DNA of southern and northern leopard frogs, which range widely north and south of New York City. These frogs look quite similar to each other, but the results indicated that this frog’s lineage was genetically distinct.

Newly discovered leopard frog in NYC. Photo by Brian Curry, Rutgers University

Feinberg believes this leopard frog once inhabited Manhattan and the other boroughs. He has found specimens in the Meadowlands and the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, as well as in Putnam and Orange Counties in New York. Some frogs were also collected in central Connecticut.

What’s unusual about this finding is that new frog species are usually found in the remote rainforests of Indonesia and similar places, and not within the shadow of one of the world’s most densely populated urban areas.

The New York Times has asked readers to come up with a name for this new frog. They have listed some attributes of this frog to give you inspiration for a name, including the fact that the geographic center of the frog’s range is Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

How about The Green Bomber? After all, there are Yankee fans all over the tri-state area.

More information about the discovery:

The findings are to be published in an issue of the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, but are currently available online. Much of the genetic analysis was performed in Professor  H. Bradley Shaffer’s laboratory at the University of California at Davis, where he worked until recently.

Photo of Jeremy Feinberg, courtesy of New Jersey Newsroom.com


World's Smallest Frog Discovered

Researchers have discovered two species of what may be the world’s smallest frog species. As described in the journal PloS ONE, these new species of mini, terrestrial frogs were found on the island of New Guinea, and represent not only the smallest known frog but possibly also the smallest known vertebrate species (animal with a backbone).  Both new species are members of the recently described genus Paedophryne, the four species of which are among the ten smallest known frog species. They attain an average body size of only 7.7 mm (range 7.0–8.0 mm), less than the size of an M&M.

Photo courtesy Louisiana State University/PloS ONE

The researchers believe that the frogs have evolved their teeny size in a unique ecological niche: the leaf litter of tropical forests that remains moist year round. The frogs eat even tinier creatures (mites etc) that most other frogs don’t exploit. They are well camouflaged among leaves on the forest floor, and have evolved calls resembling those of insects.

According to the researchers, other places in the world that also feature dense, moist leaf litter tend to possess such small frog species, indicating that amphibians are well placed to occupy this ecological niche.

Before the Paedophrynes were found, the title of “world’s smallest frog” was bestowed on the Brazilian gold frog (Brachycephalus didactylus) and its slightly larger Cuban relative, the Monte Iberia Eleuth (Eleutherodactylus iberia). They both measure less than 1cm long.

For more information:

Rittmeyer EN , Allison A , Gründler MC , Thompson DK , Austin CC , 2012 Ecological Guild Evolution and the Discovery of the World’s Smallest Vertebrate. PLoS ONE


The Painted Hula: A Frog Hits Prime Time

The amphibian crisis is an environmental issue that hasn’t really hit the mainstream yet. Most people we talk to are surprised to hear that an entire class of animals is in deep trouble, with one-third of amphibian species facing extinction. So we were very happy when Rachel Maddow did a piece two weeks ago on her show about the newly discovered Hula painted frog (Discoglossus nigriventer) (see video below).

painted hula frog from Y Net News

Painted Hula Frog from Y Net News Website

Here’s the story of the hula painted frog, from Conservation International’s website:

The frog was discovered in Israel’s Lake Hula, one of the world’s oldest documented lakes, which provided fertile hunting and fishing grounds for humans for tens of thousands of years.

In the early 1950s, the lake and surrounding marshes were drained as a way of tackling malaria. But the costs for doing this were high. Among other environmental problems, draining the lake led to the near extinction of an entire ecosystem and the unique endemic fauna of the lake, including the Hula painted frog. Ironically, species such as the painted frog feed on mosquitoes that carry malaria.

Concern over the draining of Hula grew among the people of Israel, leading to the formation of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and a movement to reflood the Hula Valley. It took 40 years for the protesters’ voices to be heard, but in the mid 1990s, parts of the valley were reflooded.

While much of the ecosystem was restored, not all species re-appeared and it was believed to be too late for the Hula painted frog; the species was declared extinct in 1996 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The frog became a poignant symbol for extinction in Israel.

Only three adult Hula painted frogs had ever been found. Two of these were collected into captivity in the 1940s, but the larger one ate the smaller one, leaving just one specimen to remember the species by.

The enigmatic frog was selected as one of the “top ten” species during the Search for Lost Frogs last year, highlighting the global importance of this species. It was lost but not forgotten.

Recently, however, Nature and Parks Authority warden Yoram Malka was conducting his routine patrol of the Hula Nature Reserve when something jumped from under him. He lunged after it and caught it: he was holding in his hand the first Hula painted frog seen since the 1950s.

To quote the CI site:

This rediscovery is the icing on the cake of what is a major victory for conservation in Israel: the restoration of a rare and valuable ecosystem. Because Israel has given the Hula Valley a second chance to thrive, the Hula frog has gone from being a symbol of extinction to a symbol of resilience.

Mazel tov, Dr. Moore! And thanks, Rachel, for reporting the story.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Is it a Frog or a Cat?: Newly Discovered Amphibians in India

At Frogs Are Green, we always enjoy the stories of newly discovered frog species and the re-discovery of frog species thought to be extinct. These stories counterbalance some of the less optimistic news stories about amphibians these days.

Recently in India, twelve new frog species were discovered, and three species were rediscovered. Scientists with Global Wildlife Conservation, led by biologist Sathyabhama Das Biju of the University of Delhi, spent years searching at night in the forests of Western Ghats, in Kerala, listening for frog calls.

Wayanad Night Frog India

Wayand Night Frog. Photo by Sathyabhama Das Biju/Global Wildlife Conservation from NationalGeographic.com

Some of the newly discovered frogs include:

The Meowing Night Frog (Nyctibatrachus poocha): Its croak sounds more like a cat than a frog.

The Jog’s Night Frog (Nyctibatrachus jog): Both males and females look after the eggs.

The Wayanad Night Frog (Nyctibatrachus grandis): It grows to about the size of a baseball and leaps from rock to rock.

The Coorg night frog (Nyctibatrachus sanctipalustris): This frog was described 91 years ago and was thought to be extinct, but has now been rediscovered.

The discoveries were published in the latest issue of international taxonomy journal Zootaxa, bringing the known number of frog species in India to 336.

Many of the newly found frogs in India are rare and are living in just a single area and so are especially vulnerable and will need rigorous protection. But most conservation in India is focused on the two most charismatic animals – the elephant and the tiger. According to Dr. Biju, there is little interest in amphibians, not much funding, and frog research is not easy.

In some parts of India, however, frogs are revered. They symbolize rain and prosperity and the end of a drought. We hope that these amazing amphibians are similarly revered and get the protection they need.

To see a slideshow of the frogs on Huffington Post, click here.

Thank you to Frogs Are Green friend Dana Breaux Kennedy for pointing us to the article about the newly discovered frogs in India.