Collage of headshots introducing the Fall 2020 Young Explorers

Our Fall 2020 Young Explorers Prove There Is Always Reason For Hope

The challenges facing our planet often seem daunting, but a growing community of young people are taking a stand. They have limitless potential to make an impact, with the imagination and drive to develop solutions to problems within their communities and beyond. These changemakers know that age is simply a number, a number that does not reflect their ability to work collectively to address some of our planet’s most pressing issues. The National Geographic Society is inspired by the energy and ambition young people are bringing to the table, and we’re thrilled to announce our Fall 2020 National Geographic Young Explorers. These are the driven optimists who strive to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. 

This year’s cohort is truly impressive: 24 people from around the globe, between 17 and 25 years old, who are on the frontlines of the most complex and urgent issues of our time. They’re addressing topics such as ocean and biodiversity conservation, food insecurity, plastic pollution, and the impacts of drought and water scarcity. They’re promoting safe, inclusive learning environments, and ensuring all children have access to quality education. They’re encouraging storytelling among youth, empowering them to be proud of their heritage and experiences. They’re paving new ways for young scientists with innovative solutions to combat environmental and health issues. They are leading movements—mentoring impact-driven women to create change and providing the next generation with training and resources to tackle climate change. 

Join us in celebrating our Fall 2020 Young Explorers.

These Young Explorers bring fresh perspectives and limitless energy to their passions. “We are connected with a drive from within,” said Ara Kusuma, an advocate for improving accessibility to quality education. “To make today better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today.” 

This is the mentality of #GenGeo, a global community of young people with empathy, tenacity, passion, and an insatiable drive to seek solutions that will build a sustainable future and thriving planet. This is the generation helping to drive progress and mobilize their peers to make a difference in their communities. They are not only advocating for a seat at the table, but they’re asking for even more chairs to be added for young people. At National Geographic, we’re proud to offer them that seat. We’re thrilled to invest in their vision, fund their projects, foster connections, and amplify their work.

Our Fall 2020 National Geographic Young Explorers represent 15 countries, and despite their diverse backgrounds and ideas, they share what urban farmer Chander Payne calls the ‘it’ factor: “The passion, the authenticity, the special sauce that inspires others and creates these ripple effects of change,” he explains. 

But they acknowledge that they can’t do it alone; there is power in collaboration and connectivity. Movements are driven by the support of like-minded individuals and only when each contributes their respective pieces can we solve the puzzle. When young people combine entrepreneurial spirit with unbridled optimism, nothing is impossible. Together they are unstoppable. 

“Young people have the courage to tell the truth,” says photographer Markus Martinez Burman. “It is in our shared empathy and energy that we find unity and strength.” 

If you are interested in joining this group of diverse young voices and contributing your innovative ideas to help drive transformative change, visit NatGeo.org/GenGeo. Learn more about our Young Explorers—including our spring 2020 and fall 2019 class, contribute to the #GenGeo conversation, and discover how you can become a part of this bold and audacious community of changemakers.  

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