Every year, people who know and love Ecology Project International (EPI) await the announcement of the next round of EPI Alumni Leadership Award winners. The EPI Alumni Leadership Awards recognize outstanding individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in environmental conservation and activism, providing funds and mentorship for the winners to complete conservation projects of their design. In 2024, we received a record-number of applications! That said, the five winners from across the Americas blew us away with their creativity, passion, and solutions to environmental issues worldwide. Meet the EPI Alumni Leaders of 2024!
Building Bridges Between Ecosystems
Gabriella is a film student at the University of California Santa Cruz with a deep love for wildlife. Her EPI Galapagos experience profoundly influenced her interest in the environment and in wildlife conservation.
Gabriella's project will involve the production of a film advocating for wildlife crossings on roadways, a vital measure to combat habitat fragmentation and minimize harm to the planet.
Through her films and activism, Gabriella aims to raise awareness and inspire a world where humans and the natural world coexist peacefully.
"My EPI course got me thinking about all of the ways in which our behavior, infrastructure, and pollution impact the environment, and what we can do to mitigate it. Habitat fragmentation is a huge consequence of our society, and I believe wildlife crossings are an important step in reducing human harm on the planet."
Sustainability in Reusable Menstrual Solutions
Anna, a member of the Moscow High School Environmental Club and co-president of the Moscow PERIOD Club, is ready to bridge the gap between the two groups by finding a solution to single-use plastic period products. Her three Yellowstone Ecology courses opened her eyes to local environmental threats while giving her the confidence to apply for an EPI Alumni Leadership Award.
"The purpose of this project is to spread more awareness about sustainability through reusable menstrual products and give those in poverty the ability to access them. In the process, this project will degrade period stigma and involve club members."
Arath discovered his passion for the environment as a local EPI Mexico student, leading him to pursue a career in environmental sciences. His project has multiple components, including waste reduction, the creation of sustainable infrastructure, and community environmental education. By taking non-recyclable materials and converting them into eco-bricks, Arath plans to create functional and beautiful structures to improve urban areas around his town of La Paz.
"This project represents a transformative window into meaningful action in environmental conservation. Its innovative approach, aimed at redefining the conventional notion of waste, drives a paradigm shift in the community and becomes a platform to inspire others to take action and rethink their relationship with waste."
Garbage Art & Community Clean-Ups
Maddie's love for animals started at a young age, leading her to volunteer at wildlife centers and pursue studies in biological and ecological sciences. Her EPI field research in Yellowstone reinforced her passion for wildlife and ecology. Maddie's Garbage Art project includes a series of Bay Area community clean-ups, collecting plastic waste that she will transform into educational art projects!
"I hope my project will have two important impacts. First, I would like to help remove plastic waste from local, sensitive habitats. Second, I hope to help educate the public about pollution issues using art and community outreach."
Community Seed Bank
Margarita, a senior in Copey de Dota, Costa Rica, found her calling with EPI Costa Rica. Her experience at Pacuare Reserve ignited her desire to transform ideas into actions, leading her to establish a Community Seed Bank for local farmers. She hopes the Seed Bank will reduce farmers' reliance on harsh pesticides and genetically modified seeds. Winning the award opens doors for Margarita to continue making a difference and providing tools for others to contribute to environmental conservation.
"I hope I can create a system where the farmers will learn the importance of producing without damaging the land and the environment. I want to give tools, both physical and educational, to all the farmers in Copey to make my town and all the products they grow environmentally friendly."
Thank You Zarri-Rooney Family!
Congratulations to Gabriella, Anna, Arath, Maddie, and Margarita for their outstanding achievements and contributions to environmental leadership. Your dedication is inspiring, and we look forward to witnessing the positive impact of your ongoing efforts in the field of conservation! Stay tuned for updates on each winner’s project progression throughout the year!
The Alumni Leadership Awards are made possible by the generosity of the Zarri-Rooney Family. Want to support more students and teachers in their conservation leadership? Chat with our Alumni Program Coordinator, Sierra, for information on how you can help more young people make a big difference. Contact: email@example.com.