Press Release

From Promoting Ocean Literacy in Cameroon’s Schools to Documenting North America’s Wildlife, the National Geographic Society’s 2024 Young Explorers Are Changing the World

The Society awards the next generation of Explorers who are using their voices and talents to implement innovative solutions in their communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 15, 2024) — To address the most critical issues facing our planet, the National Geographic Society recognizes the importance of supporting and celebrating young people who are developing and implementing innovative solutions. Today, the Society is announcing its 2024 Young Explorers — 15 emerging leaders ranging from 18-25 years old who are working across areas including ocean, land, wildlife, planetary health, and human histories and cultures.

“Investing in our youth is instrumental in helping us solve the urgent issues of our time,” said Alex Moen, chief explorer engagement officer at the National Geographic Society. “From tackling climate change and protecting wildlife to amplifying community knowledge and experiences, the 2024 Young Explorers join the National Geographic Explorer community — receiving funding, and finding connections and community with like-minded peers. We are proud to recognize and invest in these awardees on their journey as they help us build a thriving planet.”

Through the Society’s Young Explorer Program, each recipient receives a monetary award, as well as unique training, mentoring and networking opportunities, and access to additional project funding. The awardees are selected through a competitive, multi-tiered nomination and application process. From scientific innovation and conservation to education, community engagement, and storytelling, the Society invests in Young Explorers who tackle a wide range of issues. The Young Explorers in this cohort are pursuing a range of efforts, including protecting threatened ecosystems through photographic storytelling, fostering a culture of tolerance and acceptance towards the LGBTQIA+ community, advocating for sustainable energy solutions, amplifying the voices and stories of local communities experiencing the worst impacts of climate change, and empowering fishing communities to implement multi-faceted sustainability solutions for marine life and people.

The 2024 Young Explorers are:

  • Abdul Na-eem Muniru, 23, of Ghana, a researcher and advocate helping thousands of people across West Africa understand the significance of marine conservation.
  • Arghadeep Das, 24, of India, a researcher and aspiring policymaker amplifying the stories of communities experiencing the worst impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.
  • Cameron Oglesby, 25, of the U.S., an environmental justice advocate, oral historian, and award-winning journalist dedicated to re-centering the voices, narratives, and knowledge of historically disinvested communities.
  • Dahlia Jamous, 23, of Canada, founder and community leader of an effort driving the conservation and restoration of ocean resources in the Marmara region of Turkey.
  • Forbah Sandra Ngwemetoh, 24, of Cameroon, an environmental educator bringing ocean literacy into schools and inspiring Cameroon’s next generation of marine conservationists.
  • Joshua Anak Belayan, 26, of Brunei, a climate leader advocating the essential role of Indigenous people and underrepresented groups in ecosystem conservation and climate initiatives.
  • Joyce Molly Teko, 24, of Uganda, an entomologist working with her local community to establish a sustainable honey bee keeping project that benefits people and pollinators.
  • Latamai Katoa, 19, of New Zealand, a photographer using storytelling to foster a culture of tolerance, acceptance, and empathy, particularly towards the Pasifika LGBTQIA+ youth community.
  • Luis Paladines, 24, of Ecuador, a marine conservationist building partnerships between artisanal fishermen and scientists to expand what is known about threatened marine species in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Flori López Atz, 22, of Guatemala, a social and environmental activist, leader and human rights defender passionate about addressing climate change and its impact on communities.
  • Maria Hashmi, 23, of Pakistan, a science communicator and founder of a first-of-its-kind outdoor immersive experience in a region lacking access to nature education.
  • Rami Al Najada, 23, of Jordan, a sustainable energy researcher promoting the use of locally produced, environmentally-friendly ways to address water scarcity and energy insecurity.
  • Rohit Giri, 26, of Nepal, a photographer and herpetofauna researcher using public education to confront negative sentiment towards snakes and contribute to their conservation.
  • Soren Goldsmith, 19, of the U.S., a conservation photographer and storyteller highlighting New England's elusive wildlife and urban ecosystems to promote policies that protect them.
  • Vihaan Mathur, 19, of the U.S., founder of a youth-driven organization combating climate change through education, research, journalism and lobbying.

These 15 new award recipients join the Society’s growing community of Young Explorers who are united by a common thread: to take action and inspire transformative change. Within the National Geographic network, previously selected Young Explorers have served as judges for the Slingshot Challenge, spoken on stage about their work at National Geographic’s annual Explorers Festival and participated in NEWF (Nature, Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers) Congress' signature event that honors wildlife visual storytellers. Young Explorers have continued to be active in their communities, including Richard Turere, a conservationist, inventor and 2020 Young Explorer, who developed the Lion Lights system as a solution to deter lions and other predators from attacking livestock in his pastoral Maasai community. In 2022, he published his children's book and was also named the winner of the 2023 European Young Inventor Award. Brigitta Gunawan, an ocean-climate advocate and 2023 Young Explorer, strives to connect communities through science, education and storytelling. In March 2024, she received the Global Citizen Youth Leaders Award at 19 years old. River Claure, a visual artist, photographer and 2021 Young Explorer, focuses on cultural juxtapositions and investigating identities marked by territory. In 2021, he was awarded the PhotoVogue Scholarship (Italy) for his project “Warawar Wawa” and has been named one of the photographers “Ones to Watch” by the British Journal of Photography.

Select Quotes from 2024 Young Explorers:

“As a bee conservationist and scientific researcher, I've witnessed firsthand the delicate balance of nature and the critical role that bees play in pollinating plants, which in turn supports the entire ecosystem and human food supply,” said Young Explorer Joyce Molly Teko. “My passion for bee conservation and biodiversity stems from a deep appreciation for the intricate interconnections within ecosystems and the essential role that bees play within them.”

“My work aims to illuminate and allow people to see beauty in others. By being able to understand who we all are and the intricacies of humanity, we can build tolerance, acceptance and most importantly empathy,” said Young Explorer Latamai Katoa. “The National Geographic Society is protecting the wonder of the world and this is how we continue to do that.”

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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 www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.