PGC 2020

Project Green Challenge 2020 was like no other, which is fitting for a year like no other.

The PGC 2020 Finalists excelled in the 10th Annual 30-day global challenge throughout October 2020 — and continued to ideate, develop, adapt and successfully implement Climate Action Projects against a background of unprecedented times in 2021. The brilliant students we have the privilege to work with inspire us to do more for our communities and Earth — living proof of what it means to ‘be the change.’ Read about the massive impact of these 14 young people with projects and changemaker trajectories that have only just begun, ranging from climate literacy to cleanups, community gardens to exploring the outdoors, composting to local ethical biz, educating kids to energy efficiency, pollinators to cafeterias, upcycling to solar, workshops to entire courses. Click on Finalist names below to watch video presentations from the PGC Finals Part 2, learn and be inspired.

PGC 2020 Finalists

Brielle Taubenblatt
Junior, Winston Churchill High School, Potomac, MD
Brielle is a junior at Winston Churchill High School in Maryland. She has always had an interest in science, volunteering at a kids’ hands-on science museum, participating in the Catching a Wave Planetary Wave Project, and receiving the Girls in Technology STEM Education Experience Scholarship. In her free time, she likes to hike, cook, read books, and learn languages, currently studying Spanish and American Sign Language. Project Green Challenge taught Brielle how to act on her passion for the environment, pushing her out of her comfort zone to further change actions, reduce impact, recognize global impacts, speak up on issues, and now inspire even younger leaders around positive change and sustainable living through climate education.
Five words to describe PGC: educational, impactful, unique, transformative, inspiring

Cami Child
Junior, Granada Hills Charter School, Granada Hills, CA
Cami is a junior at Granada Hills Charter High School. In ninth grade, she began to explore the problems that humans cause in nature and the ways the planet is becoming sick because of those actions, going vegan after discovering the negative effects of the meat and dairy industry on the environment, health and welfare. She has participated in clubs, her school’s Envirothon team to apply science to real-life management and conservation, and now Project Green Challenge to learn more about environmentalism, consciously shift behavior, limit waste, especially food waste, and take part in impactful actions for the good of the planet, while influencing family and friends to do the same.
Five words to describe PGC: informative, empowering, shocking, influential, exciting

Elise Gard
Junior, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Elise is a junior at the University of Kansas and Environmental Studies major, minoring in both Spanish and Social Justice. She is really passionate about the environment, working with a school garden project called Growing Food Growing Health for seven years and at Monarch Watch, which promotes the preservation of pollinators throughout the United States. In her free time, she loves cooking, making art, and admiring her house plants. She entered Project Green Challenge trying to be eco-conscious, but not really knowing how to do so. Now, she looks for ways to do everything more sustainably and doesn’t want to stop learning or making change in her community and seeks to craft a career around environmental justice and working toward a safe, sustainable future.
Five words to describe PGC: life-changing, motivational, profound, memorable

Ethan Bledsoe
Junior, West Lafayette Jr/Sr High School, West Lafayette, IN
Ethan is a junior at West Lafayette Jr/Sr High School in Indiana. He is passionate about fighting the climate crisis and has dedicated nearly all of his young life to solving it, starting local initiatives like West Lafayette Climate Strikes, West Lafayette Students for Climate Action, and the statewide campaign Confront the Climate Crisis. Through his work as a climate activist, he has seen first-hand the interconnected climate injustices his and other communities face. A transformational Project Green Challenge journey opened his eyes to numerous different areas of sustainability, the importance of community involvement and sharing in all work, as well as his ability to utilize both STEM and creative skills in ongoing advocacy, career pursuits and development of his PGC climate action project, the Climate Resiliency Coalition. CRC would help communities around the world prepare for the incoming climate crisis and protect their most vulnerable people, which is a clear priority for Ethan.
Five words to describe PGC: inspiring, motivational, impactful, transformational, eye-opening

Harmonie Ramsden
Junior, Princeton High School, Princeton, NJ
Harmonie became involved in climate activism in sixth grade and has participated in many facets of ecological preservation ever since. She serves on the leadership boards of New Jersey Student Climate Advocates, New Jersey Youth for Climate Action, and Students for International Divestment. Harmonie is also the New Jersey and LGBTQ+ High Schoolers for Biden Co-Lead, as well as a leader in Princeton High School’s yearbook and Students Demand Action clubs. Someday, Harmonie hopes to double major in Journalism and International Affairs, studying in a big city somewhere around the world. PGC has motivated Harmonie to focus on the many intersectional aspects of climate change and integrate the issues meaningfully into daily thought processes, driving powerful change beyond the too common surface-level solutions that don’t mitigate the crisis or place focus where it is needed.
Five words to describe PGC: enlightenment, justice, collaboration, changemaker, sustainable

Kat Nguyen
Senior, Carlmont High School, Belmont, CA
Kat is a senior at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California. Since her freshman year, she’s been involved in the school Green Team and has now been elected Co-President, establishing a tri-bin system and spreading awareness about environmental issues. She also is involved in Girl Scouts, plays the varsity tennis and dive teams, and enjoys yoga, bullet journaling, and calligraphy in her spare time. Every single day of Project Green Challenge had a lasting imprint in developing Kat’s conscious mindset and providing new ideas and hope, which she will take forward with optimism, eco action, proactivity and collaborative spirit to spark change and address the climate crisis, especially as it affects the most marginalized communities.
Five words to describe PGC: unforgettable, empowering, productive, impactful, transformative

Nicole Cifuentes
Senior, Glenelg High School, Glenelg, MD
Nicole is a senior at Glenelg High School in Maryland and president of the environmental club. She is super involved in band and loves science, hoping to have a career in biology or environmental science. Project Green Challenge was the perfect ‘crash course’ on all things environment for Nicole, making her feel like she was part of something bigger, learning new things, applying those learnings, becoming more sustainable, getting comfortable leading and educating others. She now believes in herself and unique ability to make a difference among family, friends, classmates and the world.
Five words to describe PGC: eye-opening, meaningful, challenging, remarkable, informative

Paulina Elizalde
Freshman, Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Paulina is a freshman at Universidad de las Américas Puebla in Mexico, majoring in Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering. She is in love with her country and all of the different natural areas spread through its territory. Sadly, this natural beauty is endangered by social and political problems, insecurity, corruption, and authority abuse. Paulina has transformed throughout Project Green Challenge, learning so much about the environment and gaining a deeper understanding of how to apply knowledge to enact positive change for nature and communities, especially indigenous peoples across her country. In her free time, she likes to read, play the violin and ukulele, sing, dance, do musical theatre, and exercise. She is a passionate person who rarely gives up, works hard for her dreams and is in constant search of knowledge and adventure.
Five words to describe PGC: life-changing, humbling, ineffable, inspirational, motivational

Samantha Lee
Junior, Arroyo High School, San Lorenzo, CA
Samantha is a 16-year old Chinese-American born in San Francisco and raised in San Leandro. She is a junior at Arroyo High School, where she is vice president and co-founder of the environmental club. Outside of school, she has been playing piano for 9 years and interns at a Bay Area nonprofit to educate others about domestic violence and social justice issues, especially in the Asian Pacific Islander community. In her free time, she likes to play around in Photoshop, draw, read, explore the Bay with friends, and try new foods! Project Green Challenge strengthened Samantha’s understanding of climate issues, shifted her perspective of how intertwined the environment is with everything in life, connected her with global mission-aligned peers, and made her more confident in her ability to pass on knowledge to others as an aware, involved, vocal changemaker.
Five words to describe PGC: marathon, empowering, interconnected, energizing, illuminating

Team Climate Crew 2020: Angela Zhu, Lily Li, Kevin Zhu, Naann Shao
Sophomores and Juniors, Jericho High School, Jericho, NY
Climate Crew 2020 is a team composed of four high school students in Long Island, New York. Angela, Lily, Kevin and Naann met through science research and have become much closer through Project Green Challenge. Angela is a junior who loves to travel to beautiful natural locations and explore various cultures and languages. Even during the pandemic, you can find Angela and her family on hikes, walking the beach, and taking late night strolls with their puppy. Lily, also a junior, is a Chinese-Canadian who moved to the United States from Ontario freshman year. She is passionate about social justice and using science, technology, and coding to create a positive impact on the world. In her free time, Lily loves to rock climb, read historical fiction, and attempt to care for her two struggling houseplants. Naann is a sophomore who loves to spend her time listening to music in the rain while pursuing one of her numerous hobbies, such as drawing, writing, reading, working for various nonprofit organizations or baking. She’s continuously inspired by the natural scenery around her, from the smallest mushroom to distant clouds. Kevin is a sophomore passionate about science research, music and writing. He often spends his time writing poetry, jamming on the piano, and working on various projects in hopes of creating something of meaning to the world. PGC has been a springboard for these young leaders to create substantial changes for a more sustainable society, pushing themselves to fight for climate action and making significant contributions to the environmental movement, unafraid to use their newfound knowledge and voice to advocate for nature, for delicate ecosystems, for vulnerable communities, for what is right.
Five words to describe PGC: eye-opening, invigorating, inspirational, educational, life-changing

Team Four Leaf Clovers: Hanson Xuan, Wenhao Ren, Chloe Zhang, Ashwin Narayanan
Sophomores, Jericho High School, Jericho, NY
Hanson is a sophomore at Jericho High School and representative of Team Four Leaf Clovers. Originally from China, Hanson has lived in New York for most of his life. He is passionate about climate action and fighting climate change, pushing himself beyond what he thought possible and coming to own his identity as a climate activist throughout Project Green Challenge. PGC changed his perception of the world, realizing how much every action matters and gaining the range of knowledge to actively change himself, others and communities to advance climate solutions. As an advocate, his climate action project will help to educate others on the urgent importance of environmental action through a variety of approaches for maximum reach and influence.
Five words to describe PGC: change, enlightenment, enjoyable, effortful, rewarding

Team Greecofriendly: Mrinmayee Warode, Rahul Sindhani
Seniors, Marathwada University, Aurangabad, India
Mrinmayee is a college senior studying chemical technology in India, representing Team Greecofriendly. She is a proactive student leader engaged in various activities around sustainability, who has not only become eco-conscious throughout Project Green Challenge, but also now understands the importance of influencing others to adopt those principles in day to day life. She sees the urgency in protecting the planet and values the health of every organism, ready to take a stand, cast a vote and make a difference for climate justice and a safe, sustainable future.
Five words to describe PGC: adventure, knowledge, mitigation, involvement, implementation

Team Green Gang Colombia: Ivana Flores, Shambhavi Gupta, Mariana Hincapie
Sophomores, Colegio Nueva Granada, Bogota, Colombia
Green Gang is a group composed of Ivana Flores from Honduras, Shambhavi Gupta from India and Mariana Hincapie from Colombia, students from different parts of the world coming together to try to make a change in their communities through a school organization and Project Green Challenge. Dancing, playing tennis, reading, horseback riding, spending time with our families, and having contact with nature keep them going. Before PGC, they wanted to effect change, but did not know how to do it and felt like the “moment of changing the world” would never arrive — because they had to finish school, go to college, and, only with a degree, could then change the world. But they knew that would be too late, so decided to invest time now in advocacy. PGC not only transformed their lives, but has provided lifelong motivation to find solutions, teach others, create projects and fight for the world and collective future.
Five words to describe PGC: informing, exciting, thankful, ambitious, proud

Team Rua Uni: Néstor Villegas Alarcon, Milagros Rojas Lock, Alberto Rodríguez Bautista, José Hinostroza Gonzales
Third and Fourth Years, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, Lima, Peru
Néstor is a civil engineering student at the National University of Engineering in Lima, Peru. He is oriented toward environmental justice, raising awareness about the environment, volunteering and critical problems that affect us and the planet. He loves to train in martial arts, play soccer and be in nature above all. Milagros is an environmental engineering student, passionate about environmental education and always participating in various environmental causes. She likes to travel, sing, dance and swim in the ocean, her favorite place. Alberto is a fourth year mechatronics engineering student and coordinates many activities to promote environmental conservation. José is a junior and leads the environmental volunteering group RUA Perú UNI. After PGC, the team knows that even though the earth is facing many pressing issues, solutions to change behavior, industry and policy are within reach. They are focused on environmental education to promote critical thinking and sustainable practices among agents of change at the university and beyond.
Five words to describe PGC: demanding, innovative, continuous learning, enjoyable, teamwork

Team SAHS ECC: Addie Foote, Claire Abbott
Juniors, Stillwater High School, Stillwater, MN
Addie and Claire are juniors at Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota. Passionate about the environment, they enjoy being outdoors, hike, bike, kayak and co-founded an environmental conservation club at the start of this year before strengthening their commitment throughout Project Green Challenge. PGC changed their lives and flipped the perspectives they hold on themselves, their community, the world, climate change and human rights issues. Planning to later enter the STEM field, including biology and environmental sciences, the high school students plan to implement an on-site solar energy and efficient technology project at their school and throughout the district, using and sharing newfound information to challenge conventional thought and systems.
Five words to describe PGC: motivational, transformative, rewarding, enlightening, relevant

Team Swag Only Certified Freaks: Quincie Bump, Samara Rodgers, Judith Martinez, Nathaniel Cabrera
Seniors, Olympian High School, Chula Vista, CA
SOCF are a group of four teens from California who are students at Olympian High School. The diverse team consists of bold, innovative changemakers who are passionate about helping others and making a difference. Samara is an amazing artist who flexed her creative muscle throughout the entire challenge by bringing emotions to life in powerful visuals. Judith is an inspiring and motivating teammate with an incredible work ethic that keeps all grounded. Nathaniel is a charismatic leader with a wonderful sense of humor and talent for visual aesthetics. Quincie is the face of the organization and team, as well as a great reflection of some of their best qualities. Together, they make up SOCF, youth activists, changemakers, founders of the Students 4 Sustainability Project, and most important of all, a loving group of friends. Their combination of conviction, curiosity, honesty, and a little Gen Z humor has allowed them to proudly spread a message of creating a sustainable world through climate justice to anyone and everyone.
Five words to describe PGC: inspirational, educational, insightful, powerful, empowering

PGC 2020: Climate Action Projects

Updates on CAPs from November 2020 through April 2021.

Brielle Taubenblatt

Kids for Climate Action empowers kids to make a difference as high school students educate 3rd–5th graders about climate. Weekly Zoom lessons range from games to videos, crafts to discussions on biodiversity, carbon footprint, soil, food waste and more themes inspired by PGC. Student, teacher and parent feedback is strong.


Cami Child

Community Compost implements composting at community gardens to enrich soil and draw down carbon, decreasing food waste and emissions. They organize a growing volunteer base to clear space, chip organic material, set up collection bins with signs, and overcome eco and logistical challenges to build layered piles.


Climate Crew 2020 (Angela Zhu, Lily Li, Kevin Zhu, Naann Shao)

EdEco motivates people of all ages to explore local trails and parks to connect with nature and join the climate action movement. They install signs at parks and trails with QR codes to access infographics, maps, blogs and interactive visual guides on environmental issues, community impact, and indigenous populations. 


Elise Gard PGC 2020 Honorable Mention 

Elise designed, received approval and led students to construct a 500 square foot garden at her former high school. They created swales and paths, covered ground in compost and built layered beds to capture carbon, forming a strong foundation for ongoing work days, garden planning and permaculture education with experts. 


Ethan Bledsoe PGC 2020 Third Place

Climate Kidz is a climate literacy campaign, focusing on mitigation and resilience. They pass legislation around the climate emergency, create youth opportunities in city gov and educate kids on food insecurity via multimedia platforms, advocacy initiatives, and equitable libraries, expanding scale and scope across Indiana.


Team Four Leaf Clovers (Wenhao Ren, Hanson Xuan, Chloe Zhang, Ashwin Narayanan)

Project Green Light focuses on cutting energy use for a smaller carbon footprint, replacing outdated lighting fixtures for efficiency, and growing outreach to facilitate community awareness. Sustainable development is the goal, where schools and cities transition purchasing and educational events inspire action for positive impact.


Team Green Gang Colombia (Ivana Flores, Shambhavi Gupta, Mariana Hincapie)

Ecoville builds and disseminates concise, interesting, replicable, widely accessible eco education activities in Colombia. High school students engage in fun, high impact, community-minded activities — each with quotes, facts and resources with strong cultural connection for maximum relevance and interest with target audiences.


Harmonie Ramsden

Princeton Youth Climate Impact Week invigorates knowledge-sharing, civic participation, and community around the urgent environmental movement among diverse students. They hosted an in-person/virtual 10- day festival with protests, readings, fundraisers, cleanups, more. Student leadership is now planning year 2.


Kat Nguyen

Circular Campus designs out waste and pollution, expanding sustainability education access to divert material from landfill, regenerate natural systems, and support pollinators. Conscious Cafeteria is inspired by Conscious Kitchen and other food programs. A Native Pollinator Garden builds community, educates on biodiversity, and offers an accessible space for students. The funded Hydroponics Herb Garden will soon supply the cafeteria.


Nicole Cifuentes

Vertical Victory Garden began with research, team-building and design, then material collection, construction and installation. Team members gathered, painted and assembled upcycled bottles atop a pallet, then placed at local Freetown Farm. Ongoing research, data collection and synthesis focus on solutions for an urban world.


Paulina Elizalde

Bee Project in Mexico uses a series of webinars, Q&As, documentary screenings and sustainability workshops to underscore the ecological importance of pollinators. Hundreds of students benefit from the knowledge, including indigenous children through meaningful student environmental club-foundation collaboration.


Team Rua Uni Lima (Néstor Villegas A, Milagros RL, Alberto RB, José HG) PGC 2020 Champion

Team Rua Uni implemented the first environmental education course at Peru’s National University of Engineering, building upon and sharing knowledge gained during PGC. The course name “Qumir Hawkay” means Green Habit in the native Quechua. With strategic allies, the leadership team outlined sessions on habits, resources, eating, zero waste, climate action. Sustainable practices, awareness and career connection rose dramatically, while meat consumption dropped, as students learned, achieved, collaborated and shared.


Team SAHS ECC (Addie Foote, Claire Abbott) PGC 2020 Second Place

Team SAHS increases awareness about solar and energy conservation. They distributed 1,250 energy efficiency kits, for estimated savings of 350 mwh and 2 million gallons of water each year. Their first video educated hundreds of students, 96% of whom made formal commitments to reduce usage. After advocating for solar to the superintendent with full cost analysis, they are now in the planning stages for school installation.


Samantha Lee

Venviro is an eco modification of Universal Basic Income (UBI) that provides students with allowances to spend at local businesses that commit to sustainable practices and eco education, fostering community, food literacy, and sustainability. With a diverse stakeholder group in place, the team is continuing business outreach, fundraising, promotion, participant applications and surveys, before distribution, engagement and monitoring.