Meet team Viridis
All-girls team is runner-up The Earth Prize Caribbean winners
Brianna Harris

THE all-girls team from Kingston, Jamaica, who are sixth-form students at Campion College, emerged as the runner-up of the 2022 inaugural competition of The Earth Prize for their prototype software to reduce food waste.

The project required the students to undertake research and development for innovation aimed to "solve the unthinkable" and to apply original methods towards solving community environmental problems.

Team Viridis, young ambassadors of their school's Green Generation Club, shares their experiences, brainstorming ideas, inspirations and challenges, outlook and growth, and finally words of advice to future entrants as foundation contenders in The Earth Prize.

Rachel Armstrong

Rachel Armstrong

I had presented the idea of entering the competition to the girls after hearing about it through our school's Green Generation Club. More or less, we were all immediately on board.

The brainstorming process was exhaustive. After consulting The Earth Prize's website and other resources, we made a comprehensive list of all possible ideas, their pros and their cons. Ultimately, it was that pros and cons list/process that contributed to the concretising of an idea.

It is difficult to recall an experience on the journey that did not test my resolve. Most prominent however, was the day on which our stage one submission was due. I made the choice to stay home from school (as we were online, I would still be able to attend my classes) in order to complete the submission, access the website (our school's Internet blocked it and it was due by 4 pm) and upload our material.

I was most inspired by my identity as an island dweller. Living in Jamaica I have experienced first-hand, many of the preliminary effects of climate change such as rising sea levels (as our beaches get smaller each year) etc. Thus, I was motivated to change the unfortunate trajectory our environment seems to be taking.

While we worked exceedingly hard, for me, there was no point where I could have fathomed the rewards that were to come. As Campionites, I feel I (and perhaps all the girls) have developed an attitude towards work marked by perfectionism, leading to the idea that our submission could always be better, always be improved etc.

Being an 'all girls team' in my opinion did not grant us 'favour' with the Earth Prize but instead was beneficial in a different way. Our status as an only female team empowered us intrinsically to want to put our best feet forward.

I think all parties involved, us, our friends, our family, our school, were surprised by our placement. However, what was even more shocking was the fruitful relationship with The Earth Prize, driven by a mutual love for the environment, that blossomed as a result.

I would highly encourage other students to enter future iterations of The Earth Prize.

My advice to such students, intent upon entering the competition, would be to take intellectual risks. The Earth Prize has proven themselves to value innovative, creative students, interested in never before investigated problems and solutions.

The benefit I most look forward to as a result of my experience with The Earth Prize is our place in the community of forward-thinkers they aims to build. Our fellow contestants were as, if not more, passionate, driven and innovative than ourselves and thus charting a new trajectory for the future of the environment alongside them is something I look forward to.

Ashley West

Ashley West

Entering the competition was actually a very easy decision for us to make. Fortunately, we were already a friend group and had come together initially to support each other in our endeavours. We had heard about The Earth Prize from our school's green generation club and we all thought that this was a perfect opportunity for us to showcase our talents and do right by our environment.

The brainstorming portion of our project took a little time as we decided to come up with our own ideas and then decide on the best one. Funny enough, food waste was not always our initial idea, however, when we began to factor in practicality and importance, it became the winner. The real factor that put it over the top, was that this issue lacked prevalence within our community and we realized the importance of the need to spread awareness.

Throughout our journey, we were required to create multiple video submissions basically "selling" why exactly our solution was the best solution. Automatically, our imaginations run wild with what we want to do. However, the period of staying out until late hours filming, learning lines, constantly travelling to multiple different locations to get the right shots took a toll on me. It would have had to be the moment which definitely showed my patience and commitment to the project.

What inspired me most throughout this journey were the opportunities that it opened up to me. I have now been able to connect to a whole new world of people that can assist me in networking and building my relationships with others also interested in this topic.

The moment I felt we had a real chance at being chosen as a finalist was when we had our team interviews. The energy and compatibility we had with the interviewers was impeccable and I just knew that we were on the right track to greater things.

I think being an 'all-girls team' definitely helped us get more recognized and also helped us work better together as we really understood each other.

Personally, I strongly believed that we had a real shot, so it was not a total surprise to me that we had come runner up. In regards to our friends and family, it was definitely a surprise although they had genuine faith in us and supported us. The school was incredibly supportive and gave us our recognition as deserved and proudly acknowledged our accomplishment.

I would absolutely recommend and encourage other students to enter future competitions. It is an incredible initiative that allows students to develop very valuable skills.

My best advice is, be as open minded as possible. You are working in a team with the same people for months on end, disagreements are bound to arise. It is best to keep an open mind to new ideas, to criticism and to also be able to show some compassion. Stick together and trust each other and you will definitely succeed.

This experience has taught me how to excel by working in a team. The Earth Prize is also an immensely impressive achievement therefore it would benefit me by broadening my opportunities. It was a tedious but enjoyable experience and it taught me patience, responsibility and determination which I consider to be very important qualities that will be used in my future. They have granted us so much support that I know, if I choose to pursue an environmental course of study, I can always turn to them.

Brianna Harris

Brianna Harris

Forming the team was no challenge for us, seeing that we have all been friends throughout most of high school. I found the decision to enter rather exciting since it gave me the opportunity to produce something original alongside my three more than capable teammates.

After many pros and cons lists, finalising on tackling food waste was easily our best choice. I believe that what inspired us the most was the opportunity to benefit the environment and Jamaican citizens directly through this solution.

Balancing school and socialising with the demands of this competition was undoubtedly a struggle. The late nights, early mornings and other unexpected obstacles surely tested each of us and just how committed we were to the project.

My inspiration actually stemmed from The Earth Prize competition itself. Being a part of a global environmental competition during its very first running was truly an eyeopener to what can become of something as simple as an idea. The passion and effort put into this organisation, to me, mirrors the passion and effort our team required to succeed.

Truthfully, throughout most of this journey our end-results felt unpredictable. Being an all-girls team from Jamaica mixed in with the vast number of teams from all over the world made predicting our performance difficult. However, I believe we shone the most in our presentations and interviews where we could display both our character and knowledge.

While I do not believe being an all-girls team served us any benefit, it did serve as motivation to perform exceptionally. Not only can the success be empowering to the team as a whole, but to other girls who want to follow a similar path.

I believe the team, along with our friends and family, all found our placement surprising considering the level of competition. All of us were greeted with pride and support from our peers after being awarded the runner-up. Our principal and school administration were extremely proud of our accomplishments and grateful for the contribution we are making to the school.

I would wholeheartedly recommend that other students enter future The Earth Prize competitions. Not only did it grant us opportunities and skills, but we have also been shown so much love and support by the organisation during this journey. It is a great chance to contribute to your planet while building new bonds.

My most valuable piece of advice would be to have faith and take risks. There is never a guarantee that you will place, but confidence and passion in one’s work is distinguishable. Even if it feels risky, take on what you believe in and stand behind it.

I feel assured that this experience has built on a set of life skills necessary for my near future career-wise and socially. Skills such as teamwork, time management and adaptability will serve as benefit to all four of us very soon as we begin university in a year. Becoming part of The Earth Prize family also allows us to have contact with and be surrounded by other innovative minds working towards the goal of a sustainable environment.

Jordanne Whittick

Jordanne Whittick

The decision to enter was exceedingly easy to make considering we were already a group of close friends with a common interest, the environment.

We brainstormed a number of ideas but food waste was the first and only idea we all equally agreed on and felt passionate about. At the end of the day the decision was a no brainer.

Balancing the fast approaching The Earth Prize deadlines with my equally as pressing school deadlines was certainly a feat. I'm sure we all had moments where we doubted our ability to commit to the competition.

I was driven by the idea of achieving a common goal and being able to make an impact with some of my closest friends.

In all honesty being chosen as finalists was completely unexpected. Though we knew we had a good idea, the concept of being chosen out of all the applicants worldwide was unfathomable to me.

Being an all-girls team helped in the sense that we were all on the same wavelengths so to speak and did not have to worry about contending with stereotypes within our team. Additionally I believe it helped because it provided representation in a science competition, which are typically male-dominated, hopefully giving other girls the confidence to do the same.

The award was most definitely a surprise for myself, as well as my friends and family but we all knew the team was capable. The school was proud of the team.

I 100 per cent encourage students to enter The Earth Prize competition. It was an amazing experience that created a number of opportunities we never anticipated.

The best advice I can give if you do decide to enter is to give it your all. Just do your utmost best with every submission and balance your time wisely.

This experience has helped me hone a number of skills such as time management and the ability to work in a team, but I think the biggest advantage has been the opportunities created. We have been recognised by our country and globally and have been provided with access to mentors in our field among other incredible benefits.

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