Brandi Morland, English/Language Arts teacher shows the book where she learned about Turere’s invention.

Brandi Moreland, eighth grade English/Language Arts teacher at Lufkin Middle School, was fascinated by a story in one of the textbooks that taught about a young man from Kenya who used a series of flashing lights to deter lions from eating the tribes’ livelihood during the dark hours of the night. Fast forward three years and 23-year-old Kenyan inventor Richard Turere was standing in full Maasai tribe garb in front of eighth grade students in the Lufkin Middle School cafeteria talking about his invention Lion Lights and the possibility of reaching your dreams.

Richard Turere grew up as a Maasai cattle herder in Kenya. He invented Lion Lights at the age of 12 to protect his family’s cows outside Nairobi National Park from lions. He even tore apart his mom’s radio to find out how it works. He is recognized as Kenya’s youngest patent inventor. In 2020 he became a Young Natgeo explorer, and he was a finalist at Future for Nature awards in 2021.

“I looked him up on Facebook,” said Moreland. “He friended me and after conversing back and forth, he came to Lufkin.”

Moreland talked to the coordinators of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, to see if they could help arrange for Turere to come to Lufkin. His message aligned perfectly with the mission of the GEAR UP grant.

“Always start small,” Turere said. “People may not always be with you. The resources may not be on your side, but if you start and work yourself up, things will come with time.”

Another point he made was that if you have passion, you’re always going to find a way to teach yourself to work it out and you can achieve everything.

The students enjoyed a Q&A session after his presentation where they asked him questions about his invention Lion Lights and about how long it took to write his new children’s book Lion Lights: My Invention that Made Peace with Lions.

Turere is a graduate of The African Leadership University where he studied Global Challenges with a focus on Wildlife Conservation.

He ended with the message that there is no existence without coexistence. Whether that’s a boy solving a problem in the Kenyan farmland to coexist with lions or a teacher searching for a young inventor using Facebook to come inspire her students across the globe. We are all in this together.

Brandi Moreland and Richard Turere

Photos by: SHEILA ADAMS/Lufkin ISD