EcoHearth Society

EcoHearth aims to create a safer environment for wildlife by restoring natural habitats, conserving resources, and educating the public.

Photo of Kelly Hong
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Please confirm you meet the following criteria

  • We have submitted the supplemental form linked in the description above
  • We are aged between 14 - 20 as of February 11, 2021
  • We live in the United States or its territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa)
  • We are not employed by, or directly related (parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
  • We have been working on this project for at least three months
  • We consent to Ashoka and/or GM featuring our work on their website, social media, and in other materials regarding this Challenge using the information in our application
  • We confirm we have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: Twitter: Instagram: YouTube:

Date You Started Your Project


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Industrialization has pushed animals out of their homes, and the abundance of resources has also caused many to be more wasteful, leading to more landfills and wasted opportunities. Furthermore, environmental change is often overlooked. As environmental activists, we would like to emphasize the the environment's role in the lives of all so that carbon footprints can be reduced and so that the negative effects of industrialization can be reduced.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We are aiming to solve this issue by involving members of the community to engage, collecting materials and supplies, organizing nesting events where volunteers and team members can build nests to be put out for the spring, and overall educating the public through social media and other public events (online or in-person). Our primary goal is to construct nests for birds and place them in parks or people’s backyards. By starting small with something little like making nests for birds, we’re taking the first step towards a healthier environment. After growing our project from making nests, we are planning to expand our horizons even more by incorporating other activities like gardening, nature-appreciation activities, and educational videos for the public. Our mission to help birds comes from our love for and research on ornithology, and these birds also serve as a symbol of hope — hope that our little contributions to help the birds will eventually evolve into a much bigger and lasting impact on the environment as a whole.

3. Please tell us how you are using science, technology, engineering or math to address your environmental challenge.

Using science, technology, engineering, and math, we are working on maximizing our efforts in as many areas/ways as we can while making sure to keep sustainability as our primary focus but also not to spread ourselves too thin. We plan on using technology as a platform to educate more people about the disastrous effects of climate change and advocate for more eco-friendly lifestyles. As students who are rather adept with technology, we are going to explore different and creative ways to spread our cause, like utilizing online interactives to demonstrate the effects of climate change and uploading videos that show how everyday people can positively impact our environment. We incorporated engineering into our project as we tested around with different nest-making tactics and materials to develop a design that ensured safety, quality, and eco-friendliness for birds and squirrels. Going into the future, we want to record data that we can analyze to properly improve our cause as well as how we respond to the problem of climate change. We will use mathematical skills to ensure proper understanding of this data as well as to determine how to best calculate pricing and distribute funding.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

The spark that inspired us began with me [Kelly]. As a Science Olympiad member, I was assigned to read about bird species but was overwhelmed by the amount of habitat losses, window collisions, and pesticides that endangered many of these species. So, I decided to call upon Grace and Emiley to initiate this cause. Grace cares deeply for nature and animals; she spent many hours volunteering at a zoo before the pandemic. On the other hand, Emiley is always enthusiastic to help others, whether it be people or animals. She has spent many hours volunteering at hospitals and is keen on researching ways to contribute to a healthier environment. Our combined research/experiences thus motivated us to create EcoHearth. We believe that if we can educate and inform others of the tiny ways they can contribute, then we can, step by step, create a more eco-friendly and sustainable environment.

5. Video (Keep it simple, your phone on selfie-mode is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

Hello, we're EcoHearth Society! We are working on making a difference in our local community and are finding ways to reach out to more organizations for collaborative work. We are also expanding our campaign by recruiting volunteers! In addition, all members of our community can readily participate either through nest-building with us or by dropping off grass/branches they may have gathered. In doing so, we're recycling materials that would otherwise go to waste.

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

After rigorous research about ornithology and prevention of habitat loss, we started planning a nesting project; with the help of online tutorials, we eventually developed our own method of creating nests through trial and error. The creation of our website was also crucial in spreading detailed information. In addition, we have contacted other groups and organizations in hopes of utilizing multiple platforms to make our project more accessible to people of different age groups and communities.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

While most projects focus on overall sustainability and resources, ours is a hands-on experience that physically helps animals sustainably. In addition, participation is very flexible and accessible; it includes, but is not limited to integrating eco-friendly habits, dropping off yard waste, and being a social media organizer. We want people to realize that they don’t have to go to extreme lengths to make a difference; we encourage starting out with the small things. As Admiral McRaven once said, “If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made.

In the past few months, since learning about this opportunity, we’ve been gradually expanding our horizons. Even before this challenge, we looked at different ways we could help the local bird population. First, we set up a website to educate friends and family about this topic since it’s something we’re all personally invested in. We are also working to officially publish our nesting project as soon as we can! Already, we have reached out to different people and groups about this idea, and quite a few people have shown interest in either supporting or participating in our idea and goal. For example, we recently reached out to the president of the DuPage Birding Club, Steve Constantelos, who was willing to give us advice and things to consider as we continue to develop and spread our mission to a greater community.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We want to involve the Knoch Knolls Nature Center of Naperville, IL and our local school districts so that we would be able to gather the adolescent community to make an impact. In terms of campaigning and distribution, our team intends to communicate with others via social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. As the project progresses and more people get involved, we intend to create membership for those who participate in the program in order to encourage others to make an environmental impact and draw their friends in as well. With more people on board, we will then be able to commit to more campaigns such as promoting gardening with native plants and reducing the number of window collisions.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

We first spread our idea to friends by offering a new perspective on just how many animals have to suffer due to manmade hazards. However, with just simple actions and words, we were able to guide them into taking their first little step towards mindfulness and environmental sustainability. Our success was a perfect testament to our motto, “spreading change, one little step at a time,” and we are continuing to expand our outreach to have a similar impact on a wider community.

11. How would you partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

Since one of our goals is to expand our cause to incorporate a broader range of environmental efforts, we would be very open to collaborate with others. Ultimately, we want to make a difference, whether it be changing the public’s mindset or getting more volunteers to save animals’ habitats, so we would collaborate with others in a way for both of our causes to have lasting impacts. Together we can explore innovative and new ways to involve the public and advocate for our cause.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

We’ve begun the first steps of informing the public about our cause using our personalized website, which includes several features that offer a wide variety of easy-access engagement for anyone who is interested. For example, we have an accessible contact page for anyone interested in helping out or learning more about our project. We will also use creative marketing techniques and our social media platforms to spread our cause and get more genuine involvement from the public.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

14. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you? You’ll be able to select only one option.

  • Monitoring Impact

Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?

  • No

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine
  • Recommended by others
  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or General Motors, who was it?

I [Kelly] heard about the challenge from my sibling, who found the challenge through the website.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Hiya Shah

I applaud you for taking initiative to reach out to local nature organizations and protecting bird species. I love how you are starting local but have a clear goal for the future of your initiative. All the best!

Photo of Kelly Hong

Thanks Hiya!