WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The stunning diversity of animal and plant life that covers our planet is essential to a prosperous and sustainable future. Our complex web of life is facing a myriad of threats that scientists report could result in the extinction of 1 million species, many in just decades. The magnitude of such a loss requires a new generation of environmental champions to take on the challenge.

EarthEcho International, the global nonprofit founded on the belief that youth have the power to change our planet, is accepting submissions for the 2021 OurEcho Challenge beginning February 17.  The STEM competition is designed to engage young problem solvers in studying, respecting and protecting the diversity of species and ecosystems that make life on earth possible. Teams of middle school students, guided by a teacher or mentor, are challenged to address the decline in biodiversity by identifying threats to natural resources in their communities and developing innovative solutions. The competition is made possible through the support of Aramco Americas. To learn more, please visit www.ourechochallenge.org.  

“During last year’s inaugural OurEcho Challenge we were blown away by the ingenuity, passion and determination of young leaders ready, willing and able to take on the growing global decline of biodiversity,” said Philippe Cousteau, Jr., founder of EarthEcho International. “The Challenge provides students with a platform to turn their love of nature into a plan of action to support the diverse native species and habitats that exist in their own communities and to inspire others to do the same.”

This spring, EarthEcho will select 10 finalist teams to compete for three project grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to turn their ideas into reality.  Student teams submitting entries will:

  • EXPLORE natural resources in their community and region with the help of the free online student and educator resources at www.OurEchoChallenge.org;
  • IDENTIFY threats to local ecosystems and biodiversity in their community;
  • SOLVE the problem with a process or prototype to help repair or maintain biodiversity in their community; and
  • SHARE a narrative entry at www.ourechochallenge.org describing the proposed solution on or before April 22, 2021.

“We are pleased to again support the OurEcho Challenge and its role in inspiring the next generation to apply their creativity and talent to finding environmental solutions,” said Nabeel I. AlAfaleg, president & CEO of Aramco Americas.  “As a company committed to engineering and innovation, we look forward to supporting the competition and seeing great ideas become reality.”

The 10 finalist teams will have from May 7 – June 4 to draft a final presentation and/or prototype of the projects. The teams will prepare a recorded presentation that will be presented to a panel of expert judges. Each team, and their mentor, will join EarthEcho International virtually on June 11, 2021 to present their ideas to restore and protect local biodiversity. The top three teams will be awarded grants to turn their projects into a reality.

The Importance of Biodiversity

Native animal and plant species are declining at an alarming rate. The future of our planet and humankind depends on healthy ecosystems with thriving and diverse wildlife populations. Recent studies underscore the need for innovative solutions and action now:

  • 1 million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction.
  • 75% of the land environment and some 66% of the marine environment have been “significantly altered by human actions.”
  • Up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss.
  • Since 1970, 50% of the world’s wildlife has vanished, including 3 billion birds in North America alone.
    *Sources: 2019 United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment, 2016 World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report, and 2019 AAAS report led by Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

For more information and updates about the OurEcho Challenge, visit www.OurEchoChallenge.org or  follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/earthecho  Twitter: www.twitter.com/earthecho and Instagram: www.instagram.com/earthecho/.

For more information about EarthEcho International, visit www.earthecho.org.

For more information about program sponsor Aramco, visit https://americas.aramco.com/.  

SOURCE EarthEcho International

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