MEET THE WINNERSA yearbook of the winners of the Barron Prize
OtanaLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Conducted research on ionizing air purifiers
Age at Winning Prize15
She then shared her research publicly, at a CARB hearing, with a presentation so compelling that several people waiting to give opposing testimony withdrew altogether. After the hearing, the Board finalized its regulation and California became the first state to ban the sale of certain ozone-emitting air purifiers. Otana is now working hard to educate people about the risks of the devices. She has met with the head of the EPA, serves as a volunteer spokesperson for the American Lung Association, and recently presented her research at the American Thoracic Society Meeting. “I’ve learned that individuals – even young individuals – really can make a difference in this world,” says Otana.
KatieLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Founder, Katie’s Krops
Age at Winning Prize10
Home StateSouth Carolina
Astonished that one seedling could grow to help so many people, Katie decided she wanted to grow more food to feed more people. She planted a backyard garden, and then approached her school for space for a larger plot. The school embraced the idea, with all of the students and faculty pitching in to help plant and maintain the veggies. Katie has asked for donations of seeds, tools, mulch, and other supplies, and has created a t-shirt with her slogan, “No Hungry Children – It only takes a seedling,” to raise money for her gardens. This past Spring, Katie and her crew planted over 400 donated seedlings and 400 seeds. Just recently, her request for 400 additional seedlings for a Fall planting was increased tenfold by Bonnie Plants, to 4,000 seedlings! So far, she has donated 930 pounds of fresh produce to people in need. Katie dreams of inspiring other kids and adults to start similar gardens, and already, people across the country who have heard of her work have begun doing just that. “Who would have thought I could grow a cabbage so big that I couldn’t even pick it up?” asks Katie. “I now know there isn’t anything you can’t do. All you have to do is try.”
Read more about what Katie has been up to since 2009 on our Where are They Now? page.
Founder, NY2NO – New York 2 New Orleans
Age at Winning Prize18
Home StateNew York
Alex has recently expanded his program by partnering with NYC organizations to tackle the issues of social injustice that the poorest areas of New York City have long-shared with New Orleans. This new initiative applies the lessons learned in New Orleans to NYC, by helping NYC students address problems in their own neighborhoods. Alex is also working to bring New Orleans students to NYC, to volunteer in Harlem and the South Bronx. “Grassroots organizing empowers people and is one of the most effective ways of achieving social change,” explains Alex. “But what it really takes is time, patience, and the willingness to listen to people and what they have to say – to connect.”
Founder, Girls Helping Girls
Age at Winning Prize17
So far, her group has trained over 5,000 girls in nearly 20 countries and 12 U.S. cities, tackling problems such as poverty, education, and health care. Collectively, the girls have raised over $30,000 to fund scholarships, school lunch programs, and micro-lending projects for girls and women across Africa. They have also helped establish education and income-generation programs for sex-trafficking victims in India. Sejal shares how her passion for Girls Helping Girls has completely changed her perspective and world view. “My work has taught me that there is no lesson more vital than the understanding that one has the power and the destiny to change her world,” says Sejal.
Founder, Helping Hunger
Age at Winning Prize18
He created a Google volunteer sign-up form, which is exported to a Google spreadsheet and then a Google map, allowing him to quickly determine how to best match volunteers with businesses for food pick-up and shelters for deliveries. With this system in place, Jonathan can now rescue and transport twenty times as much food as he could on his own. He has also expanded his cadre of young volunteers to include groups who cold-call businesses for food donations, recruit students by making school presentations, and coordinate the logistics of food pick-ups and deliveries. His goal is to see Helping Hunger spread to many more schools and involve many more students. “I’ve come to believe that if you really want to change the world for the better, and you work hard to achieve that goal, then there will always be people to help you along the way,” says Jonathan.
Adarsha and ApoorvaLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Co-founders, Project Jatropha
Age at Winning Prize16 and 14
Adarsha and Apoorva realized that by giving farmers Jatropha as an alternative to growing tobacco, they could protect the local environment and contribute to the global need for clean, alternative energy. They have distributed 1,000 Jatropha seedlings to area farmers, and have demonstrated for them biofuel extraction, giving farmers the fuel to run their irrigation pumps. They have committed to buying back seeds harvested from the plants to produce biofuel at a friend’s biotech lab, and ultimately plan to use money from the sale of the fuel to promote their project. In the meantime, they have fundraised and purchased 12,000 more Jatropha seedlings, which they have distributed to fifty more farmers. During each summer visit to India, the cousins spend a great deal of time meeting with farmers, village women, and schoolchildren, educating them about their project and the need to protect the environment. “We cannot continue to abuse the environment without dire consequences,” says Adarsha. “But if environmentally enthusiastic youth get involved, we can still save the planet for future generations.”
Founder, NTRBC – Need To Read Book Club
Age at Winning Prize17
Home StateSouth Carolina
She watched, delighted, as beneficiaries of the donated books became avid readers themselves, who then wanted to read for donations so as to buy books for other kids. Emily had unwittingly initiated a reading chain and since then, kids have “paid it forward” again and again. NTRBC is now a non-profit organization, and Emily is working hard to expand it nationwide. She has created an extensive web-based version of the program, as a way to easily share its format and activities with teachers. This Fall, a South Carolina school district will adopt her program in five of its schools. “NTRBC is much more than a service hobby for me,” says Emily. “It’s a large part of who I am, and is a passion I intend to continue.”
Founder, AstroTots Space Camp for Little Dippers
Since its humble beginnings in Becca’s backyard, the camp has become wildly popular; even with doubling both her staff and the number of campers she can accept, Becca often has to turn away 100-200 girls each session. She now takes her camp on the road, traveling to community centers in inner cities, often at the invitation of community organizations excited to fund the camp for local girls. She has even organized camps in Russia, Germany, and Mexico, and has plans to expand to England and France. “I’m often asked what made me able to accomplish the things I have at my age,” says Becca. “My answer is simple. I was willing to try. I’m someone who thinks ‘I can.'”
Author, Stories of Moral Courage in the Face of Evil
As her Bat Mitzvah project, she began researching and compiling the stories of 36 non-Jewish rescuers, and created a book called Stories of Moral Courage in the Face of Evil. For the past three years, Rachel has traveled the country, speaking about these unsung heroes and promoting her book. She has donated all proceeds to the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, in order to support elderly non-Jewish rescuers, most of whom are living in anonymity in Europe. “I’ve learned about people who, in the face of evil, refused to stand idly by,” says Rachel. “I hope that I would be able to act with a similar kind of morality and bravery.”
SujayLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Created a technique to convert cellulose into ethanol
Age at Winning Prize16
Home StateNew York
Sujay shares his passion for science and the environment with other students as a spokesperson for the National Environment Education Foundation and the Weather Channel, encouraging kids to pursue science and help address environmental problems. He has also founded ReSight, Inc., a non-profit group that provides sight-saving eye surgeries for children in Southern Asia. So far, Sujay has raised nearly $20,000 to help six children with macular degeneration regain their eyesight. He is working to expand his program to Haiti. “My work has taught me that having faith in one’s dreams and goals is critically important,” says Sujay. “And it has taught me that anyone, of any age, can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Kyle and Brady
Ages 18 and 16, CaliforniaKyle and Brady co-founded “My Own Book: Sharing the Joy of Reading,” an organization that sends teams of teenage volunteers to visit K-3 classrooms in disadvantaged areas.
Age 18, VirginiaConnor founded the “John H. Bell LiveStrong Jamboree,” a twenty kilometer bike ride and fundraiser in honor of his father, who was killed in a tragic biking accident two years ago. In the first year the event raised $8,000 and Connor looks forward to continuing it in the years to come.
Age 16, ColoradoRiley created “Breaking the Chain,” a non-profit group that strives to break the bonds of illiteracy and poverty for children around the world. Riley raised nearly $60,000 to not only build schools in Kenya but to also fund desks, books, and teachers.
Age 17, New YorkAvery founded “RelightNY,” an organization that has raised $200,000 in order to buy and distribute over 60,000 energy efficient light bulbs (CFLs) to low-income families in all five boroughs of New York City.
Age 18, MassachusettsAbbe worked to design and implement a cafeteria composting program which has reduced cafeteria waste by 75% at her high school. Her program has turned 35% of cafeteria food into compost and 40% into recycling, with a 98% compliance rate among students.
Age 17, New YorkAnna created a 740-foot handicapped-accessible nature trail in her hometown.
Age 18, MichiganBen founded “Volunteer Africa,” a non-profit organization that works to connect American volunteers with communities in Ghana.
Age 18, CaliforniaGabrielle created “Shooting Stars,” a gang-prevention program that provides basketball coaching and leadership training for at-risk girls ages 12 to 14.
Age 17, CaliforniaJohn founded “Kids Cheering Kids,” a non-profit group that engages young people in projects and programs that support the lives of children in difficult circumstances.
Age 14, CaliforniaAlec created “Kids vs. Global Warming” to educate young people about climate change and to empower them to take action.
Age 13, CaliforniaStefan created the “Stefan Lyon Foundation,” a non-profit raising funds to build schools in Kenya. Stefan authored and sold three children’s books to support this effort.
Age 18, VermontGabriela developed and implemented an energy-efficient lighting retrofit at her high school, replacing 1,600 light bulbs and reducing the school’s electric bill by $7,300 annually.
Erika and Mike
Both age 17, New JerseyErika and Mike are cousins who created “Breast Friends Forever,” a non-profit organization that has raised nearly $100,000 to support local women fighting breast cancer.
Age 18, MarylandMakenzie created “Children to Children,” a non-profit organization that has provided duffel bags and stuffed animals to over 70,000 children in foster care.
Age 18, AlaskaMegan worked with Alaska Youth for Environmental Action to educate people about global warming and the lifestyle changes they can make to help reduce the problem.
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds all across North America. Each year, the Barron Prize honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment.
Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes | P.O. Box 1470 | Boulder, CO 80306