|DeKalb teen writes his ticket to Galapagos Islands with green essay|
|Written by Joshua Smith|
For many students, writing essays can be tedious, especially at the end of the school year when you’re on the verge of summer break.
But that wasn’t the case for 14-year-old Brandon Fountain, who heard about radio talk show host Frank Ski’s essay contest, and promptly got to work.
Fountain was one of 11 students who won an all-expense paid trip to the Galapagos Islands in South America.
As a Frank Ski Planet Green Essay winner, Fountain and the other students took the trip July 21 – 29 to study the marine ecosystems, and visit the research laboratories of the late scientist, Charles Darwin.
The mission of the Frank Ski Kids Foundation is to “expose kids to their future through science, technology, athletics, and the arts.”
“Going to the Galapagos with this foundation was so special because the government of Ecuador is considering closing off the islands to tourists because it is ecologically fragile right now, endangering several of the islands’ extremely rare species that are found nowhere else in the world,” said Fountain, a rising 10th grader at Marist High School in Atlanta. “An opportunity like this may never again be presented in my lifetime. Where else can you see iguanas crossing the road daily when you wake up in the morning?”
Contestants were asked to write a 500-word essay in which they were the President of the United States addressing the country on environmental issues.
After the essays were submitted, a group of 20 Metro Atlanta students were chosen as finalists to read their essays in front of an assembly at the Georgia Aquarium.
Fountain, who has a 4.0 GPA, really shined with his essay, “Global Warning: America’s Problem and Our Solution.” To solve the problem, he suggested several things such as recycling and preserving natural resources.
Fountain made not only his mom, Miriam Fountain, proud, but the DeKalb 100 Black Men, an organization that has mentored him since sixth grade through its signature program called The Leadership Academy.
“Brandon made us all so proud because he delivered his message with such confidence.
He really educated everyone who was in attendance that night,” said Mae D. Jones, executive director of the 100 Black Men of DeKalb.
Jones said she and mentors of The 100 Black Men of DeKalb have watched Fountain expand his horizons through various educational opportunities that afforded him the chance to travel in the U.S. and abroad for the past three summers.
“I’ve been to Japan and Ghana, West Africa,” said Fountain, who this summer spent three weeks studying particle physics at Stanford University in San Francisco on a scholarship.
Fountain said the highlight of the trip to the Galapagos Islands was visiting the Charles Darwin Preservation Center and seeing giant tortoises the size of full-grown men.
The Galapagos Islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species, once studied by Charles Darwin.
His observations and collections from the islands contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
As part of the Frank Ski program, Fountain also had the chance to do something else he has never done: swim with the sharks at the Georgia Aquarian.