Cato was recently part of a 5 person team that won the worldwide tier of the San Diego Zoo and US State Department’s conservation hackathon!

Their project, Conscious Consumer, is a Chrome browser extension that flags terms related to conservation issues. The idea is to help educate the consumer, and help steer them towards purchasing more environmentally friendly products. For example, if viewing a product on an ecommerce site that contains “palm oil” in the ingredients list or description, the Chrome extension would pop up a notification to alert the consumer that palm oil might be an issue for conservation efforts. A link is then provided for more information on that ingredient, with the possibility of recommended alternate products.

By the end of the hackathon weekend, the team had a functioning product (with a few key terms) created, and available on the Google Chrome web store. They also had a functioning website for Conscious Consumer, which can be viewed here. With only a few key terms completed, Conscious Consumer is a work in progress.

To view their presentation slide deck on Google Drive, visit this link.

The US State Department sent the Conscious Consumer team to the Bogotá, Colombia conservation hackathon this year to act as mentors. Cato also went on to function as a mentor for the 2019 San Diego Zoo hackathon.

Cato has become very passionate about conservation and environmentalism, and loves participating in projects like this one. She has specifically developed an interest in sound ecology, and using sound to aid conservation efforts. She’s currently developing some projects in this field of interest, and would love to participate in any project ideas along these lines that people may have!