OurEcho Challenge Program Launch

Philippe Cousteau, Jr.’s EarthEcho International Invites YouthNationwide to Tackle Species Decline with the OurEcho Challenge!

--New STEM Challenge for Middle Schoolers Includes a Trip to Washington, DC, for 10 Finalists and a $10,000 Project Grant for the WinningTeam --

Washington, DC (January 27, 2020) From the majestic blue whale to the hard working honeybee, the complex web of life we call biodiversity touches every inch of our planet, including our own backyards.  And now, more than ever, this life sustaining variety needs our help.  

EarthEcho International, the global nonprofit founded on the belief that youth have the power to change our planet, is launching the OurEcho Challenge, a new competition designed to engage young problem solvers in understanding, respecting and protecting the important diversity of species essential to life. Teams of middle school students, guided by an educator or mentor, are challenged to address the decline in biodiversity by identifying threats to natural resources in their communities and developing an innovative solution. The competition is made possible through support of Aramco Americas. The call for submissions is now open at www.ourechochallenge.org.  

“The OurEcho Challenge inspires and empowers a new generation of young leaders to address one of our most serious environmental threats – the global decline of biodiversity,” said Philippe Cousteau, Jr., founder of EarthEcho International. “The Challenge helps students turn their passion for science, discovery, and a love of nature into action that supports the diverse native species and habitats that exist in their own communities.”

“This program is a reflection of our company’s continued commitment to educational initiatives that engage youth. It brings together young people to identify, examine, and propose solutions in support of healthy ecosystems—plants, animals, wildlife—contributing to a healthy sustainable planet,” said Mohammad S. Alshammari, President & Chief Executive Officer, Aramco Americas.  

The OurEcho Challenge equips U.S. middle school students to tackle the decline in biodiversity by identifying threats and subsequent solutions affecting natural resources at a community level. This spring, EarthEcho will select 10 finalist teams to compete for three project grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 to turn their ideas into reality. The 10 finalist teams will travel to Washington, DC this summer to present their entries for final judging during EarthEcho’s annual Youth Leadership Summit.

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 

·      BRAINSTORM & PROPOSE a solution in the form of a process or prototype to help repair or maintain biodiversity in their communities

·       SUBMIT a narrative entry at www.ourechochallenge.org describing the proposed process or prototype


Why Biodiversity?

The future of our planet depends on healthy ecosystems with thriving and diverse wildlife populations. Finding a balance that supports biodiversity as human populations continue to grow is critical in creating a sustainable future. 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 inNorth 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 OurEchoChallenge, 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/.