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Celebrating a Summer of Service

by | Jul 29, 2021 | Barron Prize Winner, Character Qualities, Guest Post, Volunteerism

This time last year, our young heroes were hunkered down at home figuring out how to make a difference from a distance. This summer, many of them are back out in their communities, steaming ahead with their inspiring work. We recently caught up with a few 2020 winners to hear how things are going. Read on to learn what they’re doing these days to change the world!

Madhvi with CO Governor Polis at the signing of the Colorado Plastics Bill

Madhvi and her classmates at Super Conservation/Super Clean-Up Day

Madhvi Chittoor

Age 10, Founder, Madhvi4EcoEthics

Madhvi spent her early summer successfully lobbying for passage of the Colorado Plastics Bill, which bans single-use plastic bags at most stores and polystyrene take-out containers at most restaurants starting January 2024. The bill began more than two years ago when Madhvi initiated a petition to ban plastics in Colorado. She has worked tirelessly with legislators and mayors across the state ever since. During the two weeks in May preceding the bill’s vote on the House floor, she circled back via phone and email to every Democratic State Rep. in Colorado, requesting their support.

On the day of the bill’s hearing in the Senate, Madhvi rallied 70 of her peers for a Super Conservation/Super Clean-Up Day at her school. She also testified at 1:30 a.m. — and was thrilled when the bill passed the Senate with amendments. On July 6, she stood by Colorado Governor Polis as he signed the bill into law and then gifted her the signing pen.

“I’ve learned that making change takes time and requires patience,” says Madhvi. “But I know that through persistence and determination, I can create change on a large scale, even though I am young.”

Topher at Redfish Lake in Stanley, Idaho

Topher was featured in the July 2021 issue of Ranger Rick

Topher Jones

Age 13, Founder, Lonesome Larry Project

Topher continues his fundraising to help protect endangered salmon by selling custom-designed socks. Earlier this summer, he was invited to sell his “socks to save the sockeye” at the Redfish Lake Lodge in Stanley, Idaho. The popular resort is located at the lake where in 1992, a lone sockeye salmon, dubbed Lonesome Larry, returned from the ocean to spawn only to find himself alone.

Topher is looking forward to hosting a late summer event at the lodge where he’ll sell socks and share his passion for protecting salmon. He’s also excited that come August, an information kiosk will be installed at Redfish Lake – the first project to be funded with donations from the Lonesome Larry Project. The kiosk will educate visitors about the threats facing salmon and what they can do to help protect them.

“I believe you don’t have to be an expert to help the world. You just need to be really motivated to do something,” says Topher. “I’ve learned that the world has so many problems but we can come up with solutions. Everyone can help make a difference.”

Sammie with one of her newly-installed benches

Sammie’s new book, available August 24, 2021!

Sammie Vance

Age 12, Founder, Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project

Sammie is busy this summer visiting 11 parks in her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, checking out newly installed buddy benches that she helped make happen. Each bench is made from 200 pounds of recycled plastic caps and lids. She continues to speak with local groups about how they can take on their own buddy bench projects.

Sammie is also excitedly awaiting the August 24 release of her new book, Inspire the World: A Kid’s Journey to Making a Difference. In it, she shares her work over the past four years to create Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project. She also encourages other kids to act with determination and courage to make a difference.

“I’ve learned that if you want something, you need to go for it, be willing to ask for help, and never give up,” says Sammie. “If you can dream it, you can do it!”