HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While the federal government shutdown continues, a special young man is doing more than his fair share to pick up the slack at national parks while politicians continue to bicker.
Robbie Bond has accomplished more by the sixth grade than a lot of people do their entire lives.
His mission to be a National Park Protector started in April of 2018 when the Trump administration threatened to shrink the park system. Now that the government is shut down, he’s ramping up his efforts even more.
During his recent trip to the Big Island, Robbie saw first hand how the government shutdown is hurting our park system - one of the many YouTube videos documenting his journey show the young man picking up trash left by visitors.
“People have just piled it up, shoved all of the bottles into the recycling bin, left some of the floor and that is crazy. It really shouldn’t be like that. Since the National Park Service employees have been furloughed, there is nobody here to clean up after all this rubbish,” said Bond.
Robbie also helped the Hawaii Wildlife Fund pull more than 3 tons of derelict fishing nets and other garbage from the park.
"These places are so beautiful and people need to stand up and protect these places, especially because during the shutdown, no one is really there to protect them," he added.
Robbie's traveled all over the country and to Washington D.C. to meet with leaders. He's even lobbied for a bill to grant all fourth graders in America a free pass to visit our National Parks.
Supporting Robbie but never pushing him are two extremely proud parents Robin and Michelle Bond.
"In his words he wanted to create an army of fourth graders to combat what the administration is doing to the national parks. I think he gets it: that just because he is a child doesn't mean he doesn't have a voice," said his father Robin.
Robbie might not be able to stop the shutdown, but he raises a good point: while the parks aren't properly staffed, they should be closed.
"It would be crazy having the Smithsonian museums open but no one to protect the artifacts - it's just the same with the national parks. I just think that people should care more for these places," said Robbie.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has enough private support to keep their doors open until Jan. 9. On Oahu, the Pacific Historic Parks have found enough funding to make it until Jan. 11.