Detroit Zoo swears in new mayor of Amphibiville

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 17, 2021

 Blake Myers, 11, of Oxford, reads his winning essay during his swearing-in ceremony as the new mayor of Amphibiville, the 2-acre wetland village at the Detroit Zoo that is home to the National Amphibian Conservation Center, June 26.

Blake Myers, 11, of Oxford, reads his winning essay during his swearing-in ceremony as the new mayor of Amphibiville, the 2-acre wetland village at the Detroit Zoo that is home to the National Amphibian Conservation Center, June 26.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Ruth Marcec, director of the National Amphibian Conservation Center, discusses the accomplishments of the outgoing mayor of Amphibiville, Trinity Favazza, 14, of Shelby Township.

Ruth Marcec, director of the National Amphibian Conservation Center, discusses the accomplishments of the outgoing mayor of Amphibiville, Trinity Favazza, 14, of Shelby Township.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

ROYAL OAK — There’s a new mayor at the 2-acre wetland village at the Detroit Zoo known as Amphibiville.

On June 26, 11-year-old Blake Myers was sworn in to a two-year term as mayor of Amphibiville after winning a statewide essay contest that drew hundreds of applications from Michiganders ages 7-12. Amphibiville is home to the National Amphibian Conservation Center.

Perseverance, optimism and charisma are three traits that define Myers, an Oxford resident who will begin seventh grade this fall. He applied for the role when he was 7 but was not deterred when he did not secure the position the first time.

In his essay, which was limited to 100 words or less, Myers vowed to create a monthly newsletter called “The Amazing Amphibians,” organize a 5K benefiting the National Amphibian Conservation Center and educate the public on how to preserve habitats while creating new ones.

He signed off his essay by writing, “Have a frogtastic day!”

The National Amphibian Conservation Center is home to natural habitats for a diverse array of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians, highlighting the critical role they play in the environment.

Rachelle Spence, senior communications manager for the Detroit Zoological Society, said  more than 200 candidates applied for the position and the Detroit Zoological Society interviewed the top three candidates via Zoom.

“We just adored Blake’s charisma, his charm and his curiosity. He is so relatable,” Spence said. “Research shows that 1 in 3 amphibians is at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and pollution. We wanted a younger mayor to help spread the mission to younger generations.”

Spence said the position was created in 2000 when the National Amphibian Conservation Center opened.

Outgoing Amphibiville Mayor Trinity Favazza, 14, of Shelby Township, was present at Myers’ swearing-in ceremony. Favazza served an unprecedented two terms, and her love for amphibians led her to accrue a number of accolades, including the creation of a statewide Amphibian Conservation Awareness Week in 2018.

She also accepted a 2018 Presidential Environmental Youth Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

Myers said he loves all amphibians — although his favorite is the red-eyed tree frog — and he looks forward to cultivating new avenues for people of all ages to improve their lives and prevent the pollution of amphibians’ natural habitats.

“I’ve always been into frogs ever since I was 5,” he said. “There’s a specific pond that I like to go to that has a ton of frogs in Independence Oaks (County Park).”

He said he plans to include helpful tips on ways people can help frogs, as well as interesting facts about amphibians, in the newsletter, and he wanted to launch a 5K race because he enjoys competing in 5Ks and walking.

“I’m very excited to try to help be the voice for frogs and help improve their habitat and help stop the pollution of their habitat,” Myers said.

Martha Myers, Blake’s mom, said she was proud of her son’s perseverance, positive attitude and passion for amphibians, as well as his willingness to learn.

“He’s just a really caring individual and he’s very charismatic,” she said. “I think a lot of people he meets in his life and through this role are going to bond with him. This is a community effort too, because he’s got this vision, but with the help of a lot of other people, it’s going to happen.”

Blake’s name will be featured on a commemorative plaque at the National Amphibian Conservation Center during his tenure as mayor, his family will receive a free zoo membership and he also obtained a plush frog from the zoo at his swearing-in ceremony.

The Detroit Zoo is located at 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, west of Woodward Avenue.

For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.