Washington, D.C. (June 14, 2021) – Meet the inspiring youth working to protect native wildlife and habitats. EarthEcho International, the global nonprofit dedicated to building a youth movement to protect and restore our ocean planet, today announced the three middle school teams selected as the grand prize winners of the OurEcho Challenge. The winning teams were part of a STEM competition designed to engage young problem solvers in protecting the diversity of species and ecosystems that make life on earth possible. The competition is made possible through the support of Aramco Americas.

“All of the finalist teams for this year’s OurEcho Challenge demonstrated vision and creativity in targeting local biodiversity challenges. We cannot wait to see what these emerging environmental champions do in the future,” said EarthEcho founder Philippe Cousteau. “Our grand prize winners presented projects that impressed our panel of judges with their clear view of how everyday science and out-of-the-box thinking can provide viable solutions to a range of ecosystem challenges.”

“We congratulate all the winners of the OurEcho Challenge,” said Nabeel I. AlAfaleg, Aramco Americas President & CEO.  “They represent a new generation of leaders dedicated to solving environmental challenges – beginning with those in their own backyard.  Aramco is pleased to support environmental initiatives like this one and is joining with its partners to inspire young people to get involved.”  

The OurEcho Challenge supports three grand prize winners that were selected from 10 finalist teams competing for $5,000, $2,000, and $1,000 grants to further the work of their projects to protect and restore biodiversity. The OurEcho Challenge equips U.S. middle school students, guided by an educator or mentor, to tackle the decline in biodiversity by identifying threats and proposing solutions to protect natural resources in their communities. 

The OurEcho Challenge winning teams are as follows:

$5,000 Grand Prize Winner 

TEAM ALGAE BIOFILTRATION is researching how growing beneficial algae can outcompete the harmful algal blooms in both salt and freshwater environments using the campus pond at Windermere Prep in Central Florida as a representative ecosystem.

Windermere Preparatory School, Windermere, FL

Team - Sofia Marrero, Margarita Guzman, Brandon Doggett

Mentor - Ashley Hollern

$2,000 Grand Prize Winner 

TEAM HABITAT HOTELS is restoring the native habitats in the Aurora, IL area by removing invasive plant species and replacing those with native, pollinator-friendly plants.

Bednarcik Junior High School, Aurora, IL

Team - Prabhav Parna, Denel Phinn, Lydia Gerety

Mentor - Amy Truemper

$1,000 Grand Prize Winner 

TEAM SPRINGTAILS is addressing the decline of insect species, specifically pollinators, through habitat enhancement, increased native vegetation, the adoption of organic practices, and observations at the bank of the Mystic River, MA. 

Door 55 School, Medford, MA
Team - Aranya Karighattam

Mentor - Kavita Karighattam 

Team Algae Biofiltration, Team Habitat Hotels, and Team Springtails were selected after presenting their projects virtually to a panel of judges and members of the public on June 11, 2021, during a Facebook Live event.  A panel of judges—comprised of youth, environmental and corporate leaders, engineers, scientists, and educators—reviewed presentations from 10 finalist teams and selected the three grand prize winners based on their projects’ inspiration, scientific rigor, feasibility, and how well the team communicated.

For more information and updates about the OurEcho Challenge, visit or  follow EarthEcho International on Facebook:  Twitter: and Instagram:

For more information about EarthEcho International, visit

For more information about program sponsor Aramco Americas, visit