We asked you to nominate deserving students for a Nat Geo Teen Service Award—young people making a big impact in their communities or on the planet—and nearly 300 entries flooded in. The service contributions of our nominees were truly inspiring, with initiatives that ranged from building libraries for underfunded girls’ schools in the developing world to using mass couponing to stock local food pantries.
Deserving middle school or high school students ages 13 or older were eligible for the Nat Geo Teen Service Award. The grand-prize winner travels on a National Geographic Student Expeditions community service trip.
To be nominated, students had to be enrolled in grades 7 through 12, and residing in the United States at the time of submission. Nominators obtained student permission before entering a teen for the awards program. To nominate a student, they simply filled out our entry form, including a statement describing their nominee’s service-related accomplishments, the impact of his or her work, and why they thought the student is an exceptional community leader. Our panel of judges evaluated each entry according to the following criteria:
- The extent to which the nominee has made a positive impact on the community and/or planet (60%)
- The nominee’s demonstrated passion for, and commitment to, their community service initiatives (20%)
- The strength of the nominator’s case for why the nominee is deserving of the award (20%)
The judges selected 16 finalists, each of whom were asked to submit a parental release form within three business days indicating agreement to the contest’s official rules. Finalists then wrote a short essay on the importance of community service and what inspires them to give back, as well as the name and contact information for two references familiar with their service accomplishments.
The grand prize was a National Geographic Student Expeditions trip in summer 2017, plus a $500 scholarship toward college savings. A second and third place winner each received a $500 scholarship toward college savings, plus a long-sleeve National Geographic pullover.
For more information, check out our contest rules.