FREEPORT — Maine middle and high school students are invited to produce short videos promoting their visions for the future of Maine’s environment. The audiences for the videos will be state public and private leaders.

The statewide environmental challenge to students, “Paradise Found: The Search for Maine’s Environmental Visionaries,” is being coordinated by Meridian Stories, working with the Maine Audubon Society and Wolfe’s Neck Farm.

Meridian Stories, headquartered in Freeport, is a nonprofit organization that offers media competitions to schools. Middle and high school students are being asked to produce one- to two-minute videos about their goals and ideas for Maine’s environment.

“This project is designed as a form of activism,” Brett Pierce, Executive Director of Meridian Stories, said in a press release. “The goal is to give voice to Maine students’ collective vision, and truly impact what tomorrow looks like for our state.”

Students are to pick one of seven prompts and make a video:

Maine state bird. The chickadee is the state bird of Maine, but also the state bird of Massachusetts. Is is time for Maine to get a new state bird?

Protecting land. Thousands of acres in Maine are protected from development for public benefit. The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands is working to preserve more open space, but lacks the resources. Is there a place in Maine you feel most deserves protection above others?

“The Bold Coast.” Maine’s coast is one of the state’s most widely recognized assets, yet it is threatened by warming sea temperatures, polluted runoff, invasive species and ocean acidification. Pick a threat that is your priority concern and create a public service announcement that warns what will happen in 50 years if nothing is done.

“Dear Mr. President.” Proponents of a Maine’s Woods National Park want to turn 3.2 million acres of northern Maine into a federal parkland. The recent announcement of a possible presidential designation of the woods as a national monument — and not a national park — would allow President Obama to bypass Congress. State your position, for or against.

Water. Maine’s fresh water faces increasing demand from global corporations, pumping our aquifers and shipping water out of state. How would you propose to balance protecting Maine water and meeting a global thirst?

Local food. More young farmers are growing food in Maine, but still lack affordable land and markets and a way to process meat and poultry. If you had $1 million to help farmers, what would you do?

Heading a nonprofit. You’re a candidate to become the next president of the Maine Audubon, The Nature Conservancy or Wolfe’s Neck Farm. Research each organization, then choose one to lead, spelling out whether your focus would be improving fish passage, urban farming, pesticide management or fighting invasive species.

Entries will be posted on the Meridian Stories website in a graphically designed digital map of Maine, which visitors can click on to see and hear what Maine youth are saying.

The top 10 visionaries will be chosen by a panel of educators and environmental and media professionals. Cash prizes of $100 will be awarded. The top 10 visionaries will be announced in May.

After the competition, every Maine legislator will be sent a link to a live map showing where participating students attend school and watch the videos.

For more information and to register, go to www.MeridianStories.com.

The deadline for students to register is Feb. 15. Deadline for submissions is April 15.


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