Conserve Wildlife Blog

Going ‘wild’ online: CWF awards scholarships to talented high schoolers for social media outreach

July 18th, 2017

by Genevieve Tarino

(From Left) CWF Executive Director David Wheeler, Claire Ang of Marine Academy for Science & Technology, CWF Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio, 1st Place Winner Ethan Chang, 3rd Place Winner Olivia Gemarro, Honorable Mention Nina Colagiovanni, Honorable Mention Sarina Schmidt, Maria Spina of PSEG Foundation and Russell Furnari of PSEG Services Corporation

Hundreds of high school students from across the state competed in Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s “Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest”, engaging more than 23,000 people on social media with messages of wildlife protection. Of the entrants, three select winners earned scholarship funds.

“Today’s high schoolers grow up with an inherent expertise with technology and multimedia, yet it is far too easy for them to grow disconnected from the stunning nature and wildlife all around us. This contest utilizes their talents for technology to engage thousands of people across New Jersey and beyond with the wonders of wildlife – and a reminder for all of us to balance our lives by getting outdoors as well as online,” said David Wheeler, Executive Director of the nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

Thanks to the generosity of corporate sponsor PSEG, Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s third annual multimedia contest focused on social media, giving students the opportunity to submit an original social media campaign showing why wildlife is important to protect and preserve in New Jersey and beyond. Winners were recognized this summer at a ceremony at PSE&G headquarters in Newark.

In addition to the student winners, CWF recognized Claire Ang, a marine science teacher from the Marine Academy for Science and Technology. Ms. Ang’s exceptional leadership engaged her high school in the contest, raising awareness about species protection.

Fifteen-year old Ethan Chang from Woodbridge High School won first place, while second and third place winners were Caitlyn Drace from Woodbridge High School and Olivia Gemarro from the Marine Academy of Science and Technology. In addition, Sarina Schmidt of Manchester Township High School and Nina Colagiovanni of Point Pleasant Beach High School were recognized for their wildlife videos. Each of the honorees plan to pursue wildlife conservation in various ways.

All three winners were awarded a gift bag, scholarships, and a special invitation to an eco-tour at Sedge Islands. Off the coast of Barnegat Bay, winners will have the unique opportunity to spend the day fishing, clamming, and wildlife watching.

Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio said, “The Species on the Edge 2.0 contest capitalizes on high school students’ expertise with social media platforms and provides them with the opportunity to showcase their talents, creativity, and their love for nature. This year’s contest allows high school students to advocate for wildlife conservation and to help raise awareness on social media about the importance of preserving and protecting wildlife.”

PSEG’s commitment to environmental stewardship made the contest possible by supporting funding for the scholarships. PSEG is a leader in conservation and restoration projects, including efforts to increase numbers of pollinators in the state.

The video submissions for Species on the Edge 2.0 can be viewed here.

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