Everyone needs to take part in making the future more sustainable, especially our future leaders.

In this spirit, nearly 100 students from two Indianapolis middle schools learned the critical role biodiversity plays in sustainability during a visit to the 2023 Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The event also allowed the students to witness and gain inspiration as teams from universities and high schools across the Americas prepared ultra-energy efficient vehicles to compete in the Shell Eco-marathon.

“My 7th grader who attends Stonybrook Middle School attended a school field trip to IMS a couple weeks ago and was very excited about his experience,” said Erika Jordan. “It is normally very difficult to get Daireon to express his interest and pleasure in activities, but he had many great things to say. He is now interested in biodiversity.”

Indy NXT driver and conservationist, Matteo Nannini kicked off each day with an inspiring presentation about the importance of sustainability. Nannini is leading the way in bringing sustainability to motorsports. Conscious of the impact racing has on the environment, he has committed to planting trees each time he races through his partnership with the Green Planet initiative to bring social and environmental benefits through agroforestry projects to reduced carbon emissions.

Representatives from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and the Wildlife Habitat Council led the students through a biodiversity education program and scavenger hunt where they were challenged to identify 10 native and non-native plants on the grounds of the Speedway.

“Ensuring kids know there are multiple avenues to engage in biodiversity conservation will help prepare them to be leading environmental stewards,” said Joey Mendolia, Business and Biodiversity Consultant at WHC. “It was a privilege to discuss various aspects of biodiversity with these smart and engaged kids at the 2023 Shell Eco-marathon.”

“It’s a great first step when our students and our youth understand that biodiversity is important,” said Ethan Olson, Senior Director of Native Landscapes at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. “It’s also a necessity for them to understand why biodiversity is important and how to build and support diverse ecosystems.”

“This diversity in native plants builds overall diversity of life and creates healthy, functional, and resilient ecosystems that keep our planet alive and well,” Olson said.

The students got another preview of how they can get involved with sustainability as they toured the Shell Eco-marathon Americas, which was taking place at the IMS track, to watch the teams prepare some of the world’s most energy efficient vehicles for the competition.