Ones to Watch: 13-Year-Old Kate Gilman Williams Proves Kids Can Save Animals

The young activist started her nonprofit on a mission to educate others about endangered species

By Britni Rachal
Photos courtesy of Great Migration Productions
Ones to Watch: Kate Gilman Williams

Proof that with some support and guidance, you are never too young to start making an impact and pursuing your passions, Kate Gilman Williams is setting an example for a generation of children, by educating others about endangered animals, and encouraging our youth to pursue advocacy. Williams, now age 13, founded Kids Can Save Animals when she was only 10 years old.

A trip to Africa with her family when she was seven years old, to be part of a three-week safari, inspired her to co-author a book with the game driver on the trip, Michelle Campbell.

“I got really lucky because she was the only girl game driver in the whole safari lodge,” says Williams. “We really connected because I’ve always had a passion for animals even before I went to Africa, and she taught me everything about them.”

A hard statistic to learn — that an elephant is killed for its tusks every 15 minutes — really struck Williams, who knew she wanted to do something to help. As a result, she and Campbell got started working on a 36-page book titled, “Let’s Go on Safari.”

Since launching her organization and co-authoring the book, Williams also is now in partnership with Microsoft for her website’s Club 15 videos, a spin-off of Microsoft’s Project 15. Designed to educate other kids, the videos serve as a podcast for kids to learn about what’s happening with various animals and the dangers surrounding their chances of everyday survival.

Music that’s downloadable for a cause is another more recent project Williams took on. She met singer-songwriter Jenn Hartmann Luck, who recorded a song about kids doing great things in the world. Titled “Kids Can Save Animals,” the song is available for download on Williams’ website, with 15% of proceeds donated to Re-wild, an organization founded by actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Advocacy has no age limit.

“Any time someone listens to the song, they can automatically make a difference,” says Williams. “My motto is advocacy has no age limit. You don’t have to wait until you become an adult because if we wait until we become adults, it’s going to be too late. We are going to lose elephants in less than 10 years, so we have to step up, now.”

Her favorite animal, cheetahs are part of Williams’ inspiration. Toward the end of her safari, she was able to see one — a very rare sight.

“She was chirping for her cubs, and it was the most amazing sight ever,” says Williams. “I was so excited, and it was so cool. It’s one of my best memories from the trip.”

A great experience, but certainly not the last time Williams would see a cheetah. Interactions to directly help animals are now part of Williams’ life. She recently helped place a tracking device on a cheetah to help monitor the endangered species’ safety and its care toward its cubs. She also assisted veterinarians to dehorn a rhinoceros, which helps it become less of a target for poachers.

Williams continues to grow Kids Can Save Animals. Future projects include expanding educational materials to include sea animals. She’s also a new Youth Ambassador for Born Free USA, an organization that works to help raise awareness for animals kept behind bars in captivity. Soon, she will work with them on a project involving elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Despite all these projects, at the end of the day, Williams is still very much a young teenager, who also prioritizes schoolwork with other activities.

“It’s hard to manage, but for Club 15 videos, I just figure out time outside of school after I’ve finished my homework to set up different interviews with people and find people who I think are interesting and that I want other kids to learn about,” says Williams. “It’s just kind of fun learning to balance schoolwork but also doing your extracurriculars.”

When she’s not busy with Kids Can Save Animals and school, Williams plays volleyball as part of a club team, and she has an acting coach in Los Angeles. She and her family split their time living both in Austin and California.

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