Teens from all over North America are doing their part to help the environment -- and the polar bears.
They gathered Friday at the San Diego Zoo's Polar Bear Exhibit to be honored for their conservation efforts. Groups from Louisville, Ky.; Portland, Ore.; Pittsburgh; and Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada, competed in Project Polar Bear, creating and carrying out projects to decrease carbon emissions in their communities.
"We only have a few years to get on this problem and if we don't we'll be talking about these creatures in the past tense, which is just horrible," said finalist Emily Carlson with the Portland Zoo Team. "We really want to make an impact and help make people aware."
Teenagers like these are the people that will drive the solution to the problem facing polar bears, said President of Polar Bears International, Robert Buchanan. "The judges boiled it down to a set of four finalists who then came here to the San Diego Zoo."
The first place prize was awarded to the two-person team from the Louisville Zoo. They won a trip to Canada to see polar bears in the wild. Second place went to the Winnipeg team, who was made up of three sisters. The other two teams also won prizes for their remarkable efforts.
"Now we get to go actually see the wild polar bears," said Emily Goldstein, with the winning Louisville Zoo Team. "It's such a crazy, wonderful, amazing impact when you see a bear face to face."
The Polar Bear Project started with more than 30 entries from groups all over the U.S. and Canada. To read the Project Polar Bear finalists' blogs and to learn ways to reduce your carbon emissions, visit Polar Bear International.