Ecology Project International (EPI) is one of 25 organizations worldwide that will be sharing funding of more than $367,500 of funding from Project for Awesome. Project for Awesome, or P4A, was launched by the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, a Montana-based philanthropic organization. Both were created by authors & brothers Hank and John Green, perhaps best known for their YouTube channel, “Vlogbrothers,” where the two have communicated through video blogs for more than a decade.
Project for Awesome was launched in 2007 as a way for online creators and influencers to use their powers for good. Each December, the Green brothers and other online creators rally their community, known as Nerdfighters, to discuss, chat up, and donate to the fundraiser in order to “increase awesome,” and “decrease world suck.” Creators offer perks for donations from their followers—everything from a lifetime pass to Vidcon (now owned by Viacom) to pressed pennies (John hates pennies) to original artwork (particularly Hank’s infamous “hanklerfish").
The culmination of P4A is a zany two-day livestream hosted by the Green brothers, their staff, and friends, where watchers never know what is going to happen next. Will John blend up a pizza and drink it? Will Hank let friends draw on his face with a Sharpie? During the wacky antics on the livestream, the Nerdfighter community has the opportunity to help decide where some of the funds raised will go by voting on short videos submitted by or on behalf of nonprofit organizations.
Ecology Project International’s winning video featured local Costa Rican high school students improving sea turtle nesting habitat and protecting hatchlings. Backed by the lively and passionate music of the Costa Rican band, Passiflora, the video footage is from EPI’s Pacaure Reserve, one of the most important nesting beaches in the world for the endangered leatherback sea turtle.
EPI is honored to be among the 25 world-changing organizations honored by Project for Awesome, including four other environmentally-focused organizations: Earthjustice, Clean Air Task Force, The Arbor Day Foundation, and The Ocean Cleanup. Take a moment to learn more about the meaningful work these organizations are doing and consider spreading some P4A goodwill by sharing this with your own communities!
Earthjustice has more than 140 full-time lawyers on staff working—at no cost to their clients—to safeguard human health, conserve special places and wildlife, promote clean energy, and fight climate change. Earthjustice offers its services to a wide range of clients—from working with the American Lung Association to ensure transparency on smog readings from the EPA to helping small, grassroots community organizations like Chickaloon Native Village in Alaska fight against a new coal mine sited across from its elementary school.
The Clean Air Task Force’s mission is to “push the change in technologies and policies needed to get to a zero-emissions, high-energy planet at an affordable cost.” They are open-minded problem solvers, considering scientifically and objectively every possible solution to fulfill their mission. Their areas of research and policy recommendations include: advanced energy systems, advanced nuclear energy, bioenergy, decarbonized fossil energy, power plants, and super pollutants.
Most of us are familiar with the nearly fifty-year-old Arbor Day Foundation—the original tree-planting organization. Their conservation and education programs are well-established in the United States, with over 3,400 communities now as “Tree Cities”. Most recently, the foundation began a Community Tree Recovery program to reforest areas struck by natural disasters. The mission of the Arbor Day Foundation, to “inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees,” is deceptively simple, especially in light of the critical role trees play in uptaking carbon dioxide.
Lastly, Ocean Cleanup. We don’t know if Boyan Slat, its founder, was a nerdfighter when he proposed to skim the surface of the ocean to collect plastic refuse as a teenager in 2012, but his idea went viral. Seven years, and several prototypes later, Ocean Cleanup made their first dent in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, with the collection of 60 cubic meters of fishing nets and trash, and plans to remove 50% of the patch every five years. Their latest focus is transforming and repurposing the plastic waste into useable products.
EPI is proud to be part of this amazing short list of environmental organizations, and the even longer list of socially active organizations in the world honored by Project for Awesome. We are grateful to Hank and John Green for starting Project for Awesome, to all the Nerdfighters who make the event what it is, and to our own supporters, friends, alumni, and family whose votes helped EPI rise to the top!
EPI looks forward to being part of Project for Awesome next year, and plans to continue decreasing world suck for many more decades!
Heather McKee is a science communicator and educator working as the Content Creator at Ecology Project International. She has an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpreters. Most recently, she helped create the award-winning Wings Over Water NGSS-designed curriculum with the Montana Natural History Center.
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