Esri and National Geographic Society Announce Global Storytelling Challenge Winners

Awardees Showcase How Mapping Can Educate About Ocean Conservation

REDLANDS, Calif.—December 10, 2021— Esri, the global leader in location intelligence, and the National Geographic Society today announced the winners of the 2021 ArcGIS StoryMaps Challenge for Restoring Our Ocean. The challenge aims to bring new ideas and voices to global ocean conservation efforts while also training more young people in geospatial technology that can impact change.

High school students, college students, and young professionals aged 18–24 years were encouraged to create impactful stories about ocean health—including current threats to the ocean, and existing and potential solutions for its restoration—all using Esri technology. By participating in the challenge, these young people are also joining National Geographic’s growing #GenGeo movement—a global community of young people with a drive to seek solutions that build a sustainable future and a thriving planet.

The judges for the challenge selected first-, second-, and third-place winners in a high school track and a college and young professional track. Judges included Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist; Alex Tait, Geographer at the National Geographic Society; Sandra Turner, National Geographic Certified Educator and Global Climate Change Education Leader; Charlie Fitzpatrick, K–12 Education Manager at Esri; and Shelby O’Neil, National Geographic Young Explorer and Founder of the Jr Ocean Guardians.

The judges selected The Tale of Lost Fishing Gear—a story by Leah Fulton from Dalhousie University in Canada about how 20 percent of marine debris originates from discarded, lost, or abandoned fishing gear—as the first-place college and young professional winner. Healing the Scars of the Land, the second-place winner in the same category by Jesse Bridge of Australia, shows how tracking pollution on the Great Barrier Reef can help restore this vital ecosystem that bridges land and sea. And in third place, the judges chose Seagrass: A Struggling Ecosystem in a Unique Perspective by Tyler Copeland from the University of Central Florida in the United States for showing how drone technology can support the research and recovery of a vital yet lesser known marine resource for carbon sequestration.

The first-place winner in the high school and precollegiate track, Xiaoliuqiu, Sea Turtles, and Us by Aiden Lo from Taipei Fuhsing Private School in Taiwan, tells the story of an animal not only important to Taiwanese culture, but a crucial “keystone species” for the health of the ocean. The Treasures of the Deep story from  homeschool student Hannah Osborne, won second-place in the category, and reveals how the innovation of deep sea mining for greener energy sources may pose threats to endangered marine species. And An Altered Arctic, the third-place winner from Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo Academy in the United States, the third-place winner, shows through maps and imagery how Alaska’Inuit communities are being affected by climate change.

To view all the winning stories and to learn more about the 2021 ArcGIS StoryMaps Challenge for Restoring Our Ocean, visit


About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories, and content. To learn more, visit [] or follow us on Instagram []Twitter [] and Facebook[].

About Esri

Esri, the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping, helps customers unlock the full potential of data to improve operational and business results. Founded in 1969 in Redlands, California, USA, Esri software is deployed in more than 350,000 organizations globally and in over 200,000 institutions in the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, nonprofits, and universities. Esri has regional offices, international distributors, and partners providing local support in over 100 countries on six continents. With its pioneering commitment to geospatial information technology, Esri engineers the most innovative solutions for digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics. Visit us at

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