Fort Lauderdale, FL
Growing up with the Everglades National Park as his backyard, David Baldwin, 18, grew fond of Florida ecology. At 14, he joined the Everglades Restoration Ambassadors, a nonprofit that removes nonnative plants. As an ambassador, he educates elementary school students about nonnative species using educational modules he developed.
The educational programs are based on Baldwin’s own research, which dates back to 2017 when he began conducting neuroscience research alongside members of the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. In his junior year of high school, he interned in a biogeochemistry lab at Florida Atlantic University, where he began studying the nonnative plant Caesar’s weed, including its ideal germination conditions and its spread across Florida. Based on his findings, he theorized land-management practices like hands-on removal and prescribed burns to help keep the weed in control.