The health of our planet is in our hands. Now, our most ambitious problem solvers are joining forces as The Earthshot Prize teams up with the Slingshot Challenge, a global youth initiative supported by the National Geographic Society and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
Through this exciting new partnership, budding scientists, environmental advocates, and climate stewards will come together from around the world to seek solutions to protect our planet. The collaboration will connect Earthshot Prize Finalists with Slingshot Challenge alumni to provide mentorship opportunities and guide youth in thinking about next steps for implementing their solutions.
Launched in 2023, the Slingshot Challenge asked young people between the ages of 13-18 to create a one-minute video in English or Spanish outlining an innovative solution to an environmental issue they’re passionate about. Videos must address one of five challenges, aligned with the five challenges of the Earthshot Prize: Protect and Restore Nature; Clean Our Air; Revive Our Oceans; Build a Waste-Free World; and Fix Our Climate.
During its inaugural year, the National Geographic Society received more than 1,800 submissions from nearly 3,000 youth across 80 countries. The Slingshot Challenge selection panellist of experts were deeply impressed by the passion, creativity, and ingenuity from all the submissions received and the overwhelming response from youth around the world who are passionate about making a positive impact on our planet.
The five award recipients were announced in May during a live virtual awards ceremony where participants streamed in from around the world. Award recipients were invited to the National Geographic Society’s Explorers Festival at its Base Camp HQ in Washington, D.C. While at Base Camp, this inspiring group joined forces with other like-minded youth while also meeting with Explorers from around the world who encouraged and inspired them to continue building upon the ideas they developed for the Slingshot Challenge.
One awardee, in particular, was able to meet a lifelong hero during his time at Explorer’s Festival. Inspired by the work of National Geographic Explorer and Photo Ark Founder Joel Sartore, award recipient Soren Goldsmith’s project focused on protecting nature through photography and storytelling. By placing the cameras deep in conservation properties, he reveals the unseen animals that live in his town with the hope to inspire his community to help care and preserve the forest. Goldsmith had the opportunity to meet Sartore and discuss their work together in a collaborative discussion.
“The opportunity to meet Joel Sartore meant the world to me,” said Goldsmith. “That week was the best week of my entire life. I don’t say that lightly. It was the coolest thing I have ever done and I will never forget it for the rest of my life.”
Award recipient Kayla Ling connected with Explorer Agustina Besada, a sustainability entrepreneur and advocate of plastic pollution prevention at the Festival. Ling’s project, #NoWasteNation, created a platform for creative waste reducers to unite through social media.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know Nat Geo and Nat Geo Explorers because it’s an inspirational brand and the people part of the organization are doing such amazing things,” said Ling. “I’m beyond grateful and it’s been an awesome opportunity.”
The 2024 Slingshot Challenge is open for submissions through February 1, 2024. Visit www.slingshotchallenge.org to learn more.