Climate Migrants
Honorable Mention



2020 High School Winners

2020 Improving Climate Resiliency


By: Tripp Myers, Hunter Hamer and Owen Kleis

Gilman School
Baltimore, Maryland


Lead producer, Tripp, and his co-producers, Owen and Hunter, are seniors at the Gilman School in Towson, Maryland. The contest was an assignment in their Environmental Sustainability elective course. His teacher assigned the groups, so the teammates did not know each other well before the project. But that did not stop the group from diving right in. “I actually didn’t realize it was a real contest” he mused, remembering how he did not realize it was a competition until later.

The team considered microfinance, but chose to focus on climate migrants because it was something none of them had heard much about. He said his team was aware of the broader connection between population and climate change emissions, but was not aware of the magnitude of climate-caused displacement – both now and projections for the future. “I’ve talked to my family about the project a lot and most people didn’t know about this issue, climate migrants, and that they lack refugee status and they are basically in no-mans-land,” he said. To help the team “get more interesting research,” his team emailed Dr. Nina Hall, Assistant Professor of International Studies at John Hopkins University. She was previously a policy officer in New Zealand’s government. (In 2017, New Zealand was one of the first countries planning to pioneer and create an “experimental humanitarian visa” category for Pacific Islanders displaced by climate change).

This is the first film he has made and it’s his first award for a project, previously having “dabbled in Movie Maker, but it wasn’t anything groundbreaking,” he said. For this project, his team “kept it simple” and used a screen recording device. He said the most difficult part of the process was trying to find a way to make their stand out from other videos, and approach the issue of climate resiliency from a less-looked at topic. For future participants, he advises being extra efficient with the 60-second time limit. “Don’t spend 10 seconds with just pictures and waste those 10 seconds. Get to the point quickly, but also, don’t speed through everything and try to cover too much” he said.

He said he’s not sure how the team will split the prize money, saying that since they weren’t expecting to win, it is a pleasant surprise! In school, Tripp plays baseball, which he’s done “since he could practically walk.” He will attend John Hopkins University in the fall, and play outfield and first base on the university team. He’s considering majoring in international relations or economics. As for his teammates, “Hunter is big into soccer” he said, and “Owen is into theater and acting.” He said the Environmental Sustainability class they all took was a big influence on the team, due to the many new things they learned. “I’ve changed the way I’m being, like reducing meat intake” he said. After taking the class, Tripp said he could see environmental sustainability issues definitely being part of his future path.