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Local High School Student Wins Cash Prize in International Video Contest Joanna Gerr Takes First Place for Video on Deforestation

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and TechnologyJoanna Gerr, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, won first place and was awarded $1,000 for a video she created on deforestation for the “World of 7 Billion” international student video contest sponsored by Population Connection.

Joanna’s video “One Stump at a Time” was inspired by her Geosystems class, where she learned about how the Earth has been gradually shaped over millions of years, and how the relatively recent environmental problems we face today will impact the future. Joanna said she chose the topic of deforestation because there is a need for more awareness about this global issue.

“Deforestation seems to be overlooked- but we use its byproducts often: driving on roads that cut through dense thickets of trees and relying upon paper for printing out handouts and fliers, making disposable plates, and binding together books,” she said.

Joanna, who began animating videos when she was in eighth grade, is also a musician. She has played the piano for fourteen years and enjoys composing her own songs on the piano and using music software. At school, she is a publicist for the Assistive Technology club and Tournament Director for the Quizbowl team. Joanna will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall and plans to put her prize money towards her college fund.

About “World of 7 Billion”

Sixteen U.S. and one Belgian student earned the top spots in the “World of 7 Billion” video contest this year. The competition included nearly 2,000 video submissions from middle and high school students from 28 countries and 44 U.S. States and territories. The videos explored population growth as it relates to deforestation, public health, and water scarcity. Winners received cash prizes and their work was displayed online. “This contest creates an opportunity for youth to use videos to highlight some of the environmental and social threats facing our world,” said John Seager, President of Population Connection. “Every year, participating students from around the country and the world not only share this message but give us hope with their passion and creativity.” The contest was organized and promoted during the 2015-16 school year by Population Education, a program of Population Connection; submissions were due February 25, 2016. A panel of 47 judges— including college and high school educators, filmmakers, and professionals working in relevant fields— selected the finalists.
 For more information on the “World of 7 Billion” contest, visit  To view the winning videos and student bios, visit ###
Population Connection is the national grassroots population organization that educates young people and advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a level that can be sustained by Earth’s resources.

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