TESI’s team of undergraduate environmental communicators — Ellen Bausback, Mindjina Courage, Riley Gonzalez and Ayla Babanikos have been named finalists in the 2021 ArcGis StoryMaps Challenge for Restoring Our Ocean.

storymap challenge finalist graphicTheir project, “By Saving the Sea Cows, We’re Saving Ourselves,” tells the story of how recent manatee deaths paint a bigger picture for the future of Florida’s environment.

This year’s contest challenged high school and college students to use the Esri StoryMaps platform to develop an original story that:

  • Highlights changemakers in ocean conservation.
  • Addresses global warming, pollution, habitat protection, over-harvesting or poaching, local waterway management, or effects on water quality.
  • Creates unique visualizations of threats to the ocean.
  • Amplifies the seven Ocean Literacy principles.
  • Addresses United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: To conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas, and marine resources.

The team worked together to conduct interviews, develop graphics, collect video, produce maps and write this important story. The 18 contest finalists from around the globe will now head to a team of judges who will select first, second and third place winners in the high school and college categories.

Ellen Bausback, a UF senior studying journalism and environmental science, helped coordinate and lead the project.

“I’m so glad we were able to highlight the numerous threats facing Florida manatees through our project, and it’s been an honor to work with the team to create a compelling narrative and design that we are proud of.”

Vote for 2021 People’s Choice Award

This year, the contest is also recognizing a People’s Choice Award, which will be selected based on the number of votes cast for a particular project. Check out all the finalists and vote for your favorite by:

  1. Visit bit.ly/storymapvote.
  2. Click your favorite story.
  3. Click the “upvote” box.
  4. Sign in by creating a free Esri account, or if you’re affiliated with UF, use your GatorLink (select “Your ArcGIS organization’s URL” and enter “ufl” when prompted).
  5. After you sign in, your vote should be recorded!


Learn more about TESI’s Environmental Communicators Internship program. If you have any questions about the program or contest, please contact Sadie Mills (smills@floridamuseum.ufl.edu) or Rebecca Burton (rlburton@floridamuseum.ufl.edu).