Students are our changemakers. The next generation is our future. Action is our collective hope.
Throughout October 2022, our 12th annual global initiative activated thousands of passionate, purpose-driven participants from more than 775 schools in 48 states and 70 nations. All of the contributions, time, energy, heart, dedication and growth are seen and honored by us, schools and the world!
The PGC 2022 Finalists are 14 outstanding young leaders from six countries — the United States, Mexico, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Australia, and Denmark — selected from the international pool of thousands of PGC participants based on points, depth and breadth of engagement, challenge wins, quality of work, a final exam, and video recap of their 30-day journey in October. Congratulations on stellar work and outstanding commitment to PGC, health, communities, and world.
For the four days of the PGC Finals, we gathered in San Francisco, CA to celebrate, collaborate, and champion the Project Green Challenge 2022 Finalists. For the next five months (from November 2022 to April 2023), Finalists ideated, developed, and implemented innovative, feasible, high-impact Climate Action Projects (CAPs). CAPs take a solutions-based approach to a real world challenge on campus or in a community. Students then presented the measurable impact of completed CAPs at the PGC Finals — Part 2 in April 2023. Read more about the PGC Finalists and CAPs below, and view their video presentations here.
Turning Green is honored to announce the Project Green Challenge 2022 Winners, as we commend the work of every single one our Finalists and Participants past, present and future. The PGC 2022 Champion is Elma Jashim and Team Belmont Eco Club from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. “Project Green Challenge has been transformative in so many ways, because it has empowered me to not bow down in the face of daunting challenges. Our project tackled a systemic issue in the medical system and environmental injustice, an issue that affects communities already underserved in medicine. Affecting change in this field can be challenging, but PGC gave us the tools, knowledge, platform, and connections to do the impossible and bring our vision to life in medical education. We are so excited to see the impact of our curriculum on medicine over time!” says Elma.
PGC 2022 Second Place goes to Angely Rose and Team Trio Eco Wizards from Liger Leadership Academy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. “My takeaway from this journey is that any individual on this Earth can make a difference, if given the right tools and support. All of the Finalists remind me each and every day that youth in our generation are a powerful force for change. I see us sharing a genuine passion, firm vision for impact, and committed dedication to make our dreams to change the world come true. I hold this community very dear, as our collective activism pushes me to become the best version of myself each day. The Project Green Challenge family inspires me to be better for our planet,” says Angely.
Third Place for PGC 2022 is awarded to Tahlia Martignago from University of Technology Sydney in Sydney, Australia. “Project Green Challenge has been an incredible opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and realize my own potential. It has been so inspiring to be connected to such like-minded individuals. Our collective passion and motivation for a better future gives me so much hope for our world. This is just the beginning!” says Tahlia.
Congratulations to all of the 2022 PGC Finalists!
PGC 2022 Finalists
Jensen Coonradt, East High School, Oswego, Illinois
A junior attending Oswego East High School, Jensen hopes to fight climate change in their Illinois community. Jensen has been a lifelong environmentalist, participating in cleanups, promoting recycling, and joining school ecology teams. Jensen is also President of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) group they founded and the leader of the school’s political action club. Before Project Green Challenge, Jensen never realized how their passions for environmentalism, STEM, and politics could align to expand impact. Thanks to Project Green Challenge, Jensen has worked with elected officials and environmental organizations to create change in the community. Jensen is currently working with the Sierra Club to implement recycling at school and organized events like a guest speaker from the Green Party to discuss environmental activism with students. Jensen is also working with the STEM competition group to create inventions to help the environment, including developing an intelligent recycling bin that awards students points for recycling to receive rewards. This will encourage students to recycle when the bins are implemented in the cafeteria.
PGC is Inspirational, Impactful, Visionary, Innovative, Learning.
Corinne Fox, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa
Corinne is from Saint Louis, Missouri and a first-year student at Grinnell College. She hasn’t declared a major yet, but plans to go into a STEM field. She loves running and currently participates in the cross country team at Grinnell. Her experiences running in nature helped spark her interest in sustainability, alongside her love of birds. She has been inspired by relatives and friends to grow native plants to benefit species like monarch butterflies, and plans to learn more about conservation methods in the future. Corinne initially joined Project Green simply to educate herself on environmental issues, but found the challenges very engaging and enjoyed using her creativity and art to make a difference.
PGC is Intense, Educational, Inspiring, Creative, Encouraging.
Mahfuzul Islam, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Mahfuzul is a 23-year old student of environmental science at Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh. He is very passionate about environmental problems and sustainable solutions. Mahfuzul is also a theater artist who likes to perform and direct theatrical productions. In the future, Mahfuzul wants to be an environmental scientist and activist. He will work to reduce pollution and provide a clean, safe, beautiful environment for future generations with the help of science, technology, and the power of knowledge.
PGC is Phenomenal, Inspiring, Immersive, Enriching, Joyful.
Rania Mansour, North High School, Torrance, California
Rania is currently a junior at North High School in Torrance, California. She is passionate about native plant species as well as preventing industrial pollution, and hopes to pursue horticulture and/or chemistry in college. At school, she is a leader in Ecology Club, Women’s Empowerment Club, and French Club. As co-activity director of Ecology Club, she is currently working with students on restoring a Torrance local’s lawn to emphasize water conservation. It has been an extensive process, but she is glad to see a number of students involved in something they otherwise wouldn’t have been. She enjoys watching movies, gardening, and language-learning – with a current emphasis on French and Turkish – in her free time.
PGC is Innovative, Unity, Enthralling, Realization, Effective.
Tahlia Martignago, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Tahlia is a first-year Australian student studying Environmental Science at the University of Technology, Sydney. For Tahlia, the diverse impacts of climate change mean that there is no one solution and that activism, therefore, can take numerous forms. Her passion for scientific pursuit and communication is her chosen method of activism, where she has developed research on the medical impacts of increased carbon dioxide emissions that won a grand award at the International Science and Engineering Fair in 2022. She hopes to develop research on the intricacies of our ecosystems and help to create solutions that will enable a more holistic relationship and balance of power between humans and nature. Tahlia strongly believes that the most powerful tool in climate activism is effective communication, and would like to pursue her development of communication further in the future. Tahlia is an active individual, competing in gymnastics for many years where she is now heavily involved as a coach and judge. In her spare time, she enjoys seeing family and friends, reading and baking.
PGC is Powerful, Inspiring, Passion, Dedication, Reflective.
Ashley Xu, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
Ashley is a college freshman at UT Austin in Texas. She is majoring in Architecture/Architectural Engineering and is very passionate about sustainability and affordable housing. She is really interested in environmental justice and changing the lifestyle of low-income families. She hopes to one day start her own company.
PGC is Hardworking, Dedicated, Enlightening, Open-minded, Challenging.
Valentín Cárdenas Alcocer, Team Altea, Universidad Anáhuac Mayab, Mérida, Mexico
Valentín is motivated, dedicated, and inspired around environmental awareness, and a member of Team Altea. He is pursuing an Environmental Engineering degree at the Anáhuac Mayab University in Mérida, Yucatán, but originally from Valladolid, a town known as magical for its tourist attractions and cultural importance. He was inspired to start a climate awareness initiative during high school, after being surprised by the amount of organic waste he generated cooking daily at home. He wondered what he could do with leftovers and discovered a solution in composting. Valentín researched, read, watched videos and taught himself to compost because he was passionate about solving a problem he encountered. Thus began a journey that led him to a career focused on waste management and pollutant remediation. Valentín believes that community action stems from education, and is determined to educate people with a holistic approach to sustainability. During Project Green Challenge, his field of vision widened, as he observed new problems that he too would like to solve. Valentín is determined to undertake a Climate Action Project that generates positive impact.
PGC is Competence, Perseverance, Learning, Inspiration, Wonderful.
Elma Jashim, Belmont Eco Club, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee
Elma is a senior at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, studying biology with a minor in chemistry. She is proud to represent Belmont Eco Club, where she is President, after participating in Project Green Challenge with her teammates and fellow organization leaders Linnea Lyons, Abigail Marianetti and Lauren Merrill. They are environmental science, biology, and political science students with hopes of incorporating environmentalism into their futures. As an aspiring physician, Elma hopes to serve urban underserved communities through medicine and integrate environmental justice research and advocacy into her practice to best meet the needs of those who experience adverse health effects due to environmental racism. Elma and her teammates entered Project Green Challenge to learn about the environment and actionable steps they can take to make a difference, and got those and more out of the experience.
PGC is Insightful, Challenging, Empowering, Thought-Provoking, Enjoyable.
Ema Svobodová, Team Burrito, University of Aalborg, Aalborg, Denmark
Ema is a second-year bachelor’s degree student at the Aalborg Universitet, Denmark studying Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, and member of Team Burrito. She was born on International Women’s Day in 2003 in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic and grew up in a heavy industry area of a post-communistic country. When she was twelve, she was admitted to an international project between the Czech Republic and Germany, allowing her to study in a foreign country for six years on a full scholarship. Her hometown inspired her to seek a better way to reimagine heavy industry with Green Chemistry, so she was naturally drawn to the subject of her studies. She is actively seeking sustainability in both her everyday life and future career path. Her hobbies include cooking sustainably, playing the guitar, singing, traveling and reading books. She loves her pet fish named Alpha. Project Green Challenge was an eye-opening journey for her and a great way of educating herself and those who surround her.
PGC is Captivating, Exciting, Sustainable, Just, Future.
Yael Ochoa, Green Gurus, Pine Crest School, Miami, Florida
Yael is a high school junior at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and member of Team Green Gurus. She has always had a passion for educating others and the environmental impacts of climate change. Prior to joining Project Green Challenge, Yael already knew a lot about eating organic and sustainability, but through this 30-day challenge has learned that there is much more to it! She joined PGC with her two teammates Sophia and Devin because she knew it would help them to learn and make a greater impact in their community.
PGC is Eye-Opening, Motivational, Teamwork, Informative, Inspiring.
Skye Hamilton, Team Hewitt 2024, The Hewitt School, New York, New York
Skye is a junior at The Hewitt School in New York City, and member of Team Hewitt 2024 with Maya Tylis, Isabelle Kless, and Olivia Gee. Skye has been an active participant and leader in her school sustainability and environmental clubs, actions, and programs since middle school and is now the co-head of the upper school earth committee. She is also one of the leading members of The Hewitt School’s sustainability council, a selected group of students who work with all members of the community and advance sustainability in school through data collection and action plans. She has a passion for being outdoors and taking advantage of nature whenever she gets the opportunity. Skye joined Project Green Challenge to develop a greater understanding of the impacts of climate change. From the PGC experience, she has learned that she can apply sustainability to all aspects of life and has learned to transform her knowledge into action.
PGC is Informative, Impactful, Inspiring, Innovative, Substantial.
Rachel Lee, Team Significant Figures, Jericho High School, Jericho, New York
Rachel is a 16-year-old sophomore at Jericho High School in Long Island, New York and member of Team Significant Figures. Rachel has a strong passion for biology and enjoys her science research class. She joined Project Green Challenge along with teammates Sophia Tarasenko, Natalie Tehrani and Samaira Tripathi to take part in an activity benefiting the environment. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys running, playing volleyball, reading and spending time with friends and family. She and her teammates are passionate teenagers who want to raise awareness while taking action to help with environmental issues. As the grade representative of her sophomore class, Rachel will do her best to educate students about the environment while working to make Jericho High School more eco-friendly!
PGC is Insightful, Factual, Advantageous, Collaborative, Fun.
Angely Rose, Trio Eco Wizards, Liger Leadership Academy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Angely Rose is a 12th-grade student at the Liger Leadership Academy located in Cambodia. She is passionate about leading environmental youth projects to inspire many to join the climate action movement. Her Climate Action Project is to organize a large-scale Cambodia Climate Youth Conference with environmental workshops in order to equip youth with necessary skills and knowledge to tackle climate change and other environmental issues pervading their communities. With specific interest in pollution from the fashion industry, she co-wrote a research paper on this topic that was awarded first-place in the environmental science senior category at the 16th Annual Cambodia STEM Festival, Cambodia. Angely hopes to study public policy and international relations to work towards implementing meaningful environmental sustainability projects across nations in the future.
PGC is Transformative, Enlightening, Dedication, Collaboration, Reflective.
Matthew Taboni, Team UB Green, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
Matthew (he/him) is a second year JD/MBA student at the University at Buffalo and member of Team UB Green. Actively involved in his campus and local community, he continues to leave a positive impact through his work as the President and Founder of the University at Buffalo chapter of the Food Recovery Network, Zero Waste Graduate Student Assistant at the Office of Sustainability, and founder of UB’s Food Pantry Blue Table. Matthew has a passion for food justice, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship and is propelled to leave a meaningful impact on the world, Matthew wants to continue to deepen his understanding of justice work being done in the greater Buffalo area.
PGC is Educational, Inspirational, Impactful, Empowering.
PGC 2022: Climate Action Projects
Jensen Coonradt: Seeds of Hope
Seeds of Hope fosters individual environmental activism by placing seeds in the hands of students and other community members. Seed libraries located in high school and public libraries provide native plant seeds for free to the public, already with great success. The goal of this CAP is to inspire others to help improve the environment and offer the education and tools with which to do so. Full summary here.
Tahlia Martignago: Letters from Jess
The book ‘Letters from Jess’ centers around an Indigenous and non-Indigenous child who become friends, learning together about how climate change affects them. This book introduces children to the disparities in physical, spiritual and emotional impacts, and how attitudes toward environmentalism are subsequently different. A complimentary resource for teachers covers the book’s concepts along with activities to develop student advocacy skills. Full summary here.
Lea Kyle, UB Green Team: Greening the East Side of Buffalo
To address the disproportionate effects of climate change facing the East Side of Buffalo, this CAP will transform an empty lot with flower beds, a quiet reflection and reading area, produce raised beds, a rain barrel, and a free community library for East Community High School. The space will serve as a community refuge from concrete and sun, as well as an outdoor classroom for students to learn about gardening and receive community service hours. Full summary here.
Corinne Fox: Biodiversity in the Grinnell Community
A seed-swapping event handed out native prairie seeds widely, attracting community members and gardeners, while encouraging people to bring biodiversity to their home gardens and local ecosystems to benefit the entire region. The CAP’s student and public education explores ways to increase biodiversity, including limiting bird collisions with windows, and why these practices are important. Full summary here.
Ema Svobodová, Team Burrito: The Story of Served
The app, the Story of Served, aims to reduce food waste in households, get people to reflect on their habits and think consciously about the amount of food they waste, and build strong healthy neighborhood communities that also fight loneliness. Even in Denmark, a country with one of the highest food security rates worldwide, approximately 1,214,000 tons of food ends up in trash cans each year — and this CAP will directly combat that. Full summary here.
Angely Rose, Team Trio Eco Wizards: Cambodia Youth Climate Change Conference
The Cambodia Youth Climate Change Conference (CYCCC) was created by youth for youth. 116 participants — including students, experts, and press from approximately 26 institutions and schools — attended CYCC on April 1st at LSi Business School. Of the 15 teams CYCCC supported with weekly workshops, mentoring, and optional funding, 9 teams successfully implemented their project and presented to judges from environmental youth organizations. 3 teams won the championship and 2 teams received honorary awards. Full summary here.
Rachel Lee, Team Significant Figures: A Sustainable Garden Project
To alleviate the large issue of waste at school, this CAP introduced new specific garbage cans to use for waste and began growing plants in both yards and the greenhouse. These plants will then be incorporated into a newly created Agricultural-Business course that will start next year, where students will learn about agriculture using what is grown on campus. Full summary here.
Mahfuzul Islam: Detection of a potential heat island in Dhaka city, its causes, and mitigation measures
Heat islands are a major concern in urban areas. It is the phenomenon where heat gets trapped in a certain place due to a city’s geography, topography and structures, and raises the temperature. Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and one of the most crowded, densely populated cities in the world. As it is situated in a subtropical region, the extra heat is a serious issue for citizens. This CAP seeks to detect, find the causes of, and mitigate the growing problem. Full summary here.
Valentín Cárdenas Alcocer, Team Altea: Project LU’UM
LU’UM is a project that recovers the cultural identity and knowledge of the Mayan people, seeking to solve problems from nature while adapting to new technologies and challenges. With the aim of creating a community interested in environmental action from both a social and economic point of view, this CAP’s educational programs and workshops focus on self-sufficiency, sustainability, cultivation and more. Full summary here.
Skye Hamilton, Team Hewitt 2024: Zero Carbon Fashion Footprint
In order to achieve the goal of a zero-carbon fashion footprint at school, the CAP first focused on creating a sustainable sweater for school uniforms. Next, a thrift sale offers the community a chance to become involved by donating and purchasing gently used clothing. These projects will reduce The Hewitt School’s fashion footprint, as students and community members become educated on the topic of fast fashion. Full summary here
Ashley Xu: Waste in Architecture
A pilot program to reduce waste in the Architecture program at the University of Texas, Austin began with the creation of a social media page dedicated to stirring up a conversation around waste in architecture, specifically at architecture colleges. In addition, this CAP seeks to increase the usage of the Materials Exchange program, find a way to negotiate prices for materials, and ultimately create less waste. Full summary here.
Yael Ochoa, Team Green Gurus: Recycling vs Reality
Students lack knowledge about recycling and the administration lacks concern about the issue — and this CAP holds the school accountable for failing to recycle. By surveying students, teachers and administration, gaps have been identified and action steps are being developed to raise awareness about the importance of recycling, including via video segments on the school’s news broadcast platform by the end of the school year. Full summary here.
Elma Jashim, Team Belmont Eco Club: Integrating Environmental Justice into Medical Education
This CAP addresses the lack of environmental justice teachings in medical education. Environmental injustices are one of the strongest social health determinants, with minority populations disproportionately facing impacts on their health as a result. Given the worsening reality of climate change, it is likely that environmental injustices will continue to exacerbate, and it is imperative that future doctors are equipped to handle this in clinical practice. By collaborating with curriculum development faculty at the Frist College of Medicine at Belmont University, an environmental justice curriculum will be designed and implemented into their medical school program. Full summary here.