Bringing Kids and Animals Together in San Diego
The Jarrett Meeker Foundation is to provide programs related to wildlife, conservation, and the environment for children and young adults in San Diego County. The programs we support have a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of those we serve and help to improve the condition of our natural world.
The Jarrett Meeker Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in July 1987 in memory of 8-year-old Jarrett Meeker after his accidental death on April 27, 1987.
Since 1987, JMF has provided once-in-a-lifetime educational experiences to more than 100,000 children representing over 50 schools throughout San Diego County. Overall contributions to these programs total more than $500,000.
Our vision for the next 20 years is to continue to expand our support for wildlife and conservation-related educational programs, carefully choose programs that have a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of those we serve, and consequently improve the condition of the natural world.
Nicknamed the Little Zookeeper, Jarrett Meeker was an active, fun-loving third grader who loved nature and all living things. For Jarrett, frequent trips to the Zoo with family and friends were a part of life, a part he really enjoyed. His affection for nature was not limited to animals; he also had a genuine concern for people and, in particular, for other children who had less than he had. When he lost his life in a backyard accident in April 1987 at age eight, it wasn’t long before his parents, Judy and Keith Meeker, found a way to transfer their grief into something positive.
Judy and Keith were grateful that they were able to provide Jarrett with outdoor adventures. When they lost him, they were inspired by his love of nature and people to help disadvantaged kids experience and learn about wildlife as he did. They co-founded the Jarrett Meeker Foundation in July 1987, just three months after Jarrett’s death.
With the commitment and support of a few family friends, JMF set out with a mission to give deserving students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to attend the Zoo’s educational programs or even visit the Zoo, the chance to do so. Through its work, JMF has helped underprivileged and disadvantaged children learn about and experience the wonders of nature, animals, conservation and habitat preservation in Jarrett’s memory. The Foundation and the work that it does is Jarrett’s gift—his legacy.
What We Called Jarrett by Steven and Namir Shaba
Jarrett was our best friend. We met him four years ago. We lost him on April 27, 1987. Jarrett loved outdoors and nature with all its animals, creatures, sea animals, trees, lakes, hills, deserts, high fences and poles. School work was not his favorite thing because it was an indoor activity.
Many things we see and do remind us of him. Tall trees remind us of him climbing on them and swinging on the rope. For that we called him MONKEY. Swimming pools remind us of him swimming and diving for hours without getting tired. For that we called him DOLPHIN. Fishing reminds us of him because every time he went fishing he would catch a fish. For that we called him the GREAT FISHERMAN. A baseball game reminds us of him because every time we played the game he hit so many balls over the fence and we couldn’t find them. So we replaced real balls with newspaper balls. For that we called him THE BALL LOSER but GREAT HITTER. Animals and little creatures remind us of him because he taught us how to like and play with dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits that he had at home. For that we called him THE LITTLE ZOOKEEPER.
Girls weren’t one of his favorite things but he had to play with them because all of his neighbors were girls. At school and at home we scared the girls to get them away from us. Once we camped out in their yard and his sister, Jenny, joined us in the tent. We looked at each other, winked and said, “We hope rattlesnakes don’t come in and bite us.” That took care of her for the rest of the night.He liked calling people by their first names because he said first names were easier than last names and it sounded more friendly. We like his idea too. We shared a few secrets and we had great times together. For that we called him OUR BEST FRIEND. We are glad he was part of our lives. We will always remember the happy times we shared. Jarrett, what a FRIEND! What a guy!