These young photographers will help you rediscover nature

Through the lens of a camera, young people in Mexico, Canada and the United States reveal lines connecting people to the natural world.

This photo gallery showcases winners of the 2016 Youth Photo Challenge, presented by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. The commission, supported by the environmental agencies of Mexico, Canada and the United States, has promoted cross-border conservation as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

A panel of professional photographers selected nine contest winners, three from each country, from more than 600 photos of favorite landscapes.

What’s your favorite place to explore?

Canada – 2nd Place

Snowy path (© James Healey)
Dawson City, Yukon
“The photograph presented is taken on the frozen Yukon River, on which people depend during the winter for essential transportation,” James Healey, 22 years old, Dawson City, Yukon. (© James Healey)

Canada – 1st Place

Leaves and roots in forest (© Isabelle Fréchette)
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, Quebec
“The interlaced roots made me think of `obstacles’ but also how we are all interconnected. We must treat our Earth as we treat ourselves and each other — with respect,” Isabelle Fréchette, 16 years old, Saint Malo, Manitoba. (© Isabelle Fréchette)

 Mexico – 3rd Place (Tie)

People standing by boat in watery landscape (© Esmeralda Peña)
Mahahual, Quintana Roo
“Our reef (Chinchorro Bank) forms part of the world’s second-most important coral barrier. While the reefscape is outwardly beautiful, the coral below is dying. A significant amount of trash is also caught in the coral, causing marine species to die,” Esmeralda Peña, 26 years old, Mahahual, Quintana Roo. (© Esmeralda Peña)

Mexico – 3rd Place (Tie)

People walking across grassland (© Eduardo Alejandro Álvarez Ordóñez)
Reserva Ecológica El Uno, in Janos, Chihuahua
“A group of biologists loads mist nets to capture and study two grassland bird species, crucial to gauge the status of the ecosystem in Janos, Chihuahua,” Eduardo Alejandro Álvarez Ordóñez, 26 years old, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. (© Eduardo Alejandro Álvarez Ordóñez)

Mexico – 2nd Place

Sand dune (© Yetly León Álvarez)
Desierto de Samalayuca, Chihuahua
“The Chihuahuan Desert has a mystical quality not shared by other open sites; it is indomitable, knowing neither fragility nor gentleness and demands a respect comparable only to that of its counterpart, the sea; and a sea of golden dunes at dawn is hard to forget,” Yetly León Álvarez, 22 years old, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua (© Yetly León Álvarez)

Mexico – 1st Place

Sea lion on rocky shore (© Daniel Orrostieta)
Playas de Tijuana, Baja California
“We often overlook the importance of our surroundings and ignore what we’re destroying. The misuse of pollutants is causing irreparable losses to our marine world. We only have one, so let’s take care of it since it can’t be recycled,” Daniel Orrostieta, 18 years old, Tijuana, Baja California. (© Daniel Orrostieta)

U.S. – 3rd Place

Stream and mountains (© Chris Espinosa)
Glacier National Park, Montana
“The place in my photo is important to protect because it is one of the natural beauties of this world that some people forgot about during their day-to-day lives,” Chris Espinosa, 16 years old, Stewartville, Minnesota. (© Chris Espinosa)

U.S. – 2nd Place

Grassy field and colorful sky (© Nick Sarfaty-Jackson)
Whately, Massachusetts
“I am majoring in natural resources conservation and I try to convey the splendor and beauty of well-preserved landscapes through my photos of the world around us,” Nick Sarfaty-Jackson, 19 years old, Whately, Massachusetts. (© Nick Sarfaty-Jackson)

U.S. – 1st Place

Wheat field at sunset (© Joe Garcia)
Olathe, Kansas
“The place in my photo is an important part of the North American environment because it’s a preserved nature park and most natural things in our country have been taken down for construction,” Joe Garcia, 17 years old, Olathe, Kansas. (© Joe Garcia)

Since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), all U.S. trade pacts also have included sidebar agreements on environmental conservation. Could your favorite species benefit?