Ian Somerhalder's determination to use his fame to make a difference for the world took him to Washington, D.C., last week, where the 32-year-old testified in front of Congress on behalf of the Multinational Species Coalition.

"In talking to people, and especially young people, all over the country, I have found time and time again that the issue of species conservation is a particularly resonant one," he said. "People are passionately attached to the creatures that have captured their attention and their imaginations since childhood, and they are invested in doing whatever is necessary to protect them."

Somerhalder made his statements in support of the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Reauthorization Act of 2011, which would renew protections for various animals like elephants, tigers and rhinoceroses. 

"This legislation initially enacted in 1990, is viewed globally a success story," he said. "With the U.S. leading the effort, governments around the world are able to begin investing in their ecosystems. From the Congo to Southern Sudan, we are finding that species conservation is paying off in terms of both the environment and local government action."

Last November, the "Vampire Diaries" actor launched The Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which seeks to educate youth on a global level to put the power of change into the hands of the younger generation.

"There's Generation X. There's Generation Y. This generation is Generation Extinction," he said. "This generation holds that in their hands — the responsibility of it, and the power to change it. They have the ability to make the changes for themselves and for their environment. It's pretty badass, if you think about how much they can do."

Check out Ian's testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources below.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Ian Somerhalder urges Congress to fund species conservation
'Vampire Diaries' actor testifies in support of the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Reauthorization Act of 2011.