A project that combines branding, outreach and a commercial to raise awareness of the plight of the Ecuadorian rainforest was the winning proposal in this year’s Global Enterprise Challenge at McPherson College. A proposal by Jaden Hilgers, a junior from Wichita, was selected from a field of six entries and earned Hilgers a week-long learning tour in Ecuador.
The McPherson College Global Enterprise Challenge is a competition that encourages students to address significant global issues through entrepreneurial thinking. This year’s competition challenged students to take on the issue of globalization, specifically in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. The students were asked to plan a project that would help give voice to the marginalized populations that depend on the rainforest for a variety of resources.
McPherson College worked with The New Community Project, an organization that fights for social and environmental justice through education and empowerment, to provide a platform of this year’s challenge. The winning student project could become a tangible product used by The New Community Project to share the Ecuadorian people’s story.
Hilgers proposal includes a print campaign that incorporates a brand and logo for email and letterhead as well as a plan for church outreach to raise awareness of issues surrounding the rainforest. The proposal also includes a commercial that Hilgers will film while in Ecuador.
“This year’s challenge gives students an opportunity to be the voice of this marginalized ecosystem and those marginalized people that depend on it in a way that inspires real change,” Dustin Wilgers, associate professor of biology at McPherson College, said. “The opinions of these people are not considered during decisions about their land and without a voice in society, marginalized groups, like the tribes that live in the Ecuadorian rainforest, lack the ability to stand up for the injustices posed against them.”
The competition encouraged students to use a variety of different types of media or approaches when developing their proposals. Anything from video, artwork, photography, playwriting, to essays was accepted.
The project is a perfect fit for Hilgers, who is majoring in graphic design, studio art/photography, and philosophy and religion.
“This will definitely be new territory for me,” Hilgers said. “I have the skill set, but have not used it in this way before. I am looking forward to the opportunity to grow my skills in portraiture and telling the stories behind the photos.”
As the winner of this year’s challenge, Hilgers, will accompany the McPherson College travel experience class on a learning tour with The New Community Project to the Amazon rainforest in May.