MEET THE WINNERS

A yearbook of the winners of the Barron Prize

2022 WINNERS

Leaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment. Indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment
2022 Winners Announcement
Articles featuring all of the 2022 winners:
The Week Junior – 09/30/22

Anna DeVolld

Promote Our Pollinators (P.O.P.) Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

17

Home State

Alaska

Anna DeVolld founded Promote Our Pollinators (P.O.P) to raise awareness of pollinators’ importance and devastating decline, and to provide ways to promote their population growth. She has created and helped plant more than 2,000 free Pollinator Packs, each containing six different pollinator-friendly seedlings. She also regularly visits area classrooms to teach students about pollinators and to help them plant their own Pollinator Packs. When schools shifted online during the pandemic, she developed a free P.O.P. online class aligned with district standards. Anna’s inspiration began in her garden at age 12, when she noticed bees clustering on her sunflowers. She began researching pollinators and discovered they’re responsible for the reproduction of nearly all flowering plants and food crops. She also learned that an estimated 90% of the total bee population has been decimated due to habitat loss and pesticide use. She knew she had to help, and P.O.P. was born.

She first created an activity book for young kids full of puzzles and coloring pages to inspire them to be pollinator-aware and good stewards of the planet. She has since developed Curriculum Kits for teachers that contain lesson plans, activity books, and Pollinator Pack supplies, along with P.O.P. buttons, stickers, and reusable tote bags. Grant funding of nearly $6,000 allows her to distribute materials free of charge. Anna also works to promote pollinators across her broader community. She has collaborated with local cities to design and install permanent signs in eight pollinator-friendly locations. She is currently encouraging the planting of pollinator corridors along roads and is serving on an environmental government advisory commission. Her P.O.P. materials are also distributed by sustainability-focused stores and nonprofits. “Find something you’re passionate about, no matter how small, and see how you can use it to change the world,” says Anna.

Aseel Rawashdeh

Created an Eco-Friendly Mosquito Larvicide Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

17

Home State

Texas

Aseel Rawashdeh developed an inexpensive and environmentally friendly solution to mosquito-borne diseases. Her novel method uses household essential oils and baker’s yeast to create a larvicide that kills mosquito larvae before they can develop into adults and transmit disease. Mosquitoes transmit diseases like malaria and Zika, resulting in 700 million cases and over one million deaths each year. Without vaccines and treatments for these diseases, the only way to mitigate them is by limiting or eradicating mosquitoes. Aseel first realized the extent of mosquito-borne diseases while doing research for a school project. When she learned that the most common larvicide is extremely toxic to humans and non-target species, she began researching alternatives. She discovered that essential oils were considered promising larvicides and that some compounds could be successfully encapsulated into yeast cells. Intrigued, she began loading baker’s yeast (which mosquito larvae love to consume) with essential oils such as cinnamon, garlic, and orange.

Aseel ran nearly 700 tests over two years, working independently and funding her research with prize money from essay competitions. She meticulously noted how differently loaded yeasts affected larvae and conducted rigorous assessments to ensure her larvicide would only harm the intended target. Along the way she experienced daunting pandemic-time challenges such as obtaining mosquito eggs and gaining access to lab equipment. She’s currently working on completing small-scale field trials of her larvicide. She has determined it could be inexpensively produced as a powder in industrial quantities and applied in mosquito breeding sites. “I’ve realized the power of dedicating myself to a cause,” says Aseel. “When the experiments got tedious or things didn’t go as expected and I felt the desire to quit, the one thing that kept me going was the prospect of contributing a solution to a global issue.”

Austin Picinich

Save Our Salmon Through Art Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

17

Home State

Washington

Additional Media Coverage

KOMO News – 09/28/22
Seattle Times – 02/23/22
Austin Picinich founded Save Our Salmon Through Art (SOS) to create vibrant public art projects and murals in the Greater Seattle area that engage, educate, and empower communities to restore salmon spawning streams. His large-scale projects inspire community members to brighten up their neighborhoods and connect with the purpose of saving salmon. In its first year, SOS has involved over 370 volunteers and 30 community organizations in creating murals spanning more than 300 feet. The first mural — located in Austin’s neighborhood along Juanita Creek — supports a struggling Lake Washington stream where only three salmon were sighted in 2020. Austin also designs SOS t-shirts, stickers, bookmarks, and prints that are sold in twelve local shops, and uses all proceeds to support salmon. He has raised more than $17,000 to fund salmon awareness and stream restoration projects benefiting the University of Washington’s Salmon Watchers program.

Austin built SOS through community partnerships, bringing together organizations such as Salmon Watchers and Seattle-based nonprofit Urban ArtWorks. Working with Salmon Watchers, he incorporates salmon education into SOS murals and events. He first outlines and color-codes the salmon-themed murals. He then organizes Community Paint Days, where volunteers of all ages bring the murals to life. Austin is currently developing several more large-scale murals to bring salmon awareness to additional Greater Seattle communities. He is also designing vivid, salmon-themed vinyl wraps for traffic signal boxes at intersections along area streams to raise awareness as drivers sit at red lights. “I’ve learned that the power of WE can start with one person — even if that person is just a high schooler who likes art,” says Austin.

Ethan Hill

Ethan’s Heart Bags4Blessings

Age at Winning Prize

11

Home State

Alabama

Additional Media Coverage

WVTM TV – 09/24/22
Ethan Hill created Ethan’s Heart Bags4Blessings to support individuals experiencing homelessness in his city. Since 2017, he and his team have packed and distributed nearly 2,000 survival care bags containing items such as a sleeping bag, cold weather clothing, first aid supplies, food, and hygiene products. He works to develop relationships with the people he serves and to refer them to shelters and support services. Most days on his way home from school, Ethan and his parents drive around area parks and homeless camps to check on the estimated 300 people living there. When needed, they provide essentials from a supply kept in their car or return later to help with specific requests. Ethan also partners with local police, who carry his duffel bags and supplies in patrol cars to distribute in areas unsafe for Ethan to visit. Corporate sponsors and individual donors support his work.

Each December, he organizes more than 100 volunteers from across the state to pack hundreds of duffel bags. The next morning, his team serves breakfast in a local park and distributes the supplies. Ethan has also aided a homeless veteran in transitioning to permanent housing and has partnered with a company that makes cots, offering them for free to the people he serves. He began his work as a 6-year-old after noticing a homeless gentleman, whom he now knows as Mr. Marcus, living under a freeway. Ethan researched “emergency needs of homeless individuals,” used his Christmas money to purchase essential items, and gifted them to Mr. Marcus and others living nearby. “Those without addresses are disregarded, criminalized, and judged, but they’re people who want to be seen, loved, and supported,” says Ethan. “I don’t focus on why a person became homeless. I just look at what I can do to make life a little easier for them.”

Hannah Guan

San Antonio Math Include (SaMi)

Age at Winning Prize

15

Home State

Texas

Additional Media Coverage

San Antonio Current – 09/25/22
Hannah Guan founded San Antonio Math Include (SaMi) to increase access to STEM education for underserved students. Her nonprofit has provided free online math classes and camps for more than 36,000 K-12 students across 42 states and 13 countries. Classes are taught by student volunteer tutors who are passionate about math and have posted dozens of tutorials on SaMi’s YouTube channel. Hannah has raised over $100,000 from corporate and charitable donors to provide hundreds of scholarships to help students offset the costs of online learning. She is passionate about math and in 2021, was named the top female in the nation in the American Mathematics Competition, entered by 330,000 students worldwide.

Hannah launched SaMi at age 11, knowing firsthand the obstacles to accessing STEM opportunities. For years, her single immigrant mother drove her across Texas to math competitions, most of which weren’t accessible or affordable to the majority of students. She envisioned SaMi as a way to help level the playing field and reached out to 500 nearby public schools to offer free after school math support. When only one school took her up on her offer, she developed online programming in order to reach more students. In 2021, she organized one of the nation’s largest free online summer camps, with more than 3,500 students attending over 200 sessions in math and computer science. Hannah’s commitment to underserved students extends beyond SaMi. She was the only high schooler appointed by the City of San Antonio to help distribute a $12.5 million fund to support at-risk youth. She is currently working to bring Artificial Intelligence curriculum and teacher training to 133 area high schools. “I believe that every child, regardless of their race, family income, or zip code, should have equal access to high-quality education,” says Hannah. “I will continue working to make that happen.”

Jack Dalton

Kid Conservationist Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

12

Home State

New Hampshire

Jack Dalton works passionately to protect critically endangered orangutans and their rainforest habitat, as well as to educate and inspire people to protect the environment. He creates educational and entertaining videos for his YouTube channel, which has garnered more than 200,000 views from people in over 90 countries. His videos feature famous conservationists showcasing ways we can all help care for the planet. He has raised $12,000 for education, orangutan rehabilitation, and rainforest restoration by selling reusable bags made from recycled material and through sales of his children’s book titled Kawan the Orangutan, Lost in the Rainforest. For every book purchased, a tree is planted to help restore orangutan habitat. Jack will travel to Indonesia in October 2022 to help with several conservation projects, including the planting of trees. Known as the Kid Conservationist, he serves as a Youth Ambassador for Orangutan Alliance, Orang Utan Republik, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.

Jack began his work as an 8-year-old after learning about palm oil, deforestation, and how his actions were affecting animals. Vowing to create change, he has since presented to more than 4,500 children and adults in classrooms and at zoos and conferences around the world. He shares his vast knowledge of orangutans and inspires audiences to care about the Earth and all its inhabitants. Jack has sold more than 1,800 copies of his book and has donated hundreds of them to children in need at schools, libraries, and hospitals. “I’ve learned that I can take on challenging causes and persevere because it’s the right thing to do,” says Jack. “I’ve discovered that if you want something to change, you need to do something about it.”

Karina Samuel

Bye Bye Plastic Bags (Florida Chapter) Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

17

Home State

Florida

Karina Samuel founded the Florida chapter of Bye Bye Plastic Bags (BBPB), an international student-led nonprofit committed to reducing the amount of plastic on the planet. Her team focuses on passing pro-environment policy reform, banning plastic bags, organizing coastal cleanups, and educating the community about climate change. In the past three years, she has mobilized more than 1,000 volunteers to join over 175 coastal cleanups across the state. She is currently helping lead Ban the Bag Florida, a statewide campaign to ban plastic bags that was complicated by a Florida Senate ruling that prohibits local plastic bans from passing through city governments. She and her team have contacted district reps for help formulating a House Bill that would work around city governments. She has twice joined cleanups of the Ganges River in northern India, where she experienced the stark reality of environmental injustice but also the power of community engagement. She has raised more than $80,000 for international cleanup campaigns and for organizations including Greenpeace International.

Karina is passionate about promoting climate justice and racial equity. As a person of color, she knows firsthand how POC are disproportionately impacted by climate change. To engage minority voters and ensure their voices are heard, Karina’s team has hosted 50 drive-thru voter registration campaigns in mostly minority communities over the past year. Her group helps voters learn about pro-environment state representatives by hosting online conferences with the reps. Karina also mobilizes hundreds of volunteers across the state to campaign door-to-door on their behalf. “While all of humanity can be to blame for the climate crisis and pollution, I believe those who have the power to fight for change have the responsibility to do so,” says Karina. “I hope to serve as a role model for other young women of color seeking to advance environmental causes.”

Karun Kaushik

Democratize Health

Age at Winning Prize

17

Home State

California

Karun Kaushik created X-Check-MD, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that can diagnose Covid-19 and pneumonia with 99% accuracy in under one minute. His tool is an initiative of Democratize Health, the nonprofit he founded to save lives in impoverished regions using fast, accessible, and cost-effective technology. X-Check-MD allows doctors to snap a picture of an x-ray with their cell phone’s camera, upload it to a globally accessible website, and receive a diagnosis within seconds. It is faster, cheaper, and more accurate than traditional methods, eliminating the diagnostic backlog commonplace in developing countries while reducing delays in treatment. Karun hopes it can help prevent deaths from pneumonia, 90% of which occur in the world’s poorest regions. He has field-tested X-Check-MD in several hospitals in India and offers his technology free of charge to doctors. He has used the Democratize Health website to promote vaccines and to post real-time lists of available resources such as hospital beds and oxygen tanks.

Karun launched his work following his mother’s battle with severe pneumonia in 2020, when misdiagnoses and delayed treatment at a California hospital nearly cost her life. He was concerned about hospitals in India and knew from visits that they had nowhere near the resources or technology necessary to save lives like his mother’s. As Covid-19 swept the globe, he spoke with radiologists in India who confirmed that overwhelming patient volume and impossible working conditions were creating diagnostic bottlenecks resulting in unnecessary deaths. Karun became laser-focused on developing a solution to remove the ever-building backlogs. He spent months teaching himself Machine Learning and AI – often until 3:00 a.m. – to create X-Check-MD. “It’s easy to feel hopeless at times with the issues the world is facing but in my opinion, hope is our strongest resource and weapon,” says Karun. “I want to drive change to make a better world.”

Khloe Joiner

A Book and a Smile

Age at Winning Prize

9

Home State

Texas

Additional Media Coverage

Khloe Joiner founded A Book and a Smile to help build kids’ home libraries and to improve relationships between children and the police. She has collected more than 25,000 new books and donated them to children at schools, women’s centers, hospitals, homeless shelters, and other community organizations. During Black History Month in 2022, she collected 1,000 books authored by or written about African Americans and gave them to kids at a drive-thru giveaway. Police officers carry her books in patrol cars to give children during traffic stops and home visits. Once afraid of officers, Khloe befriended one and came to see the police as helpers. Hoping to help alleviate other children’s fears, she hatched the idea of supplying officers with gifts for frightened kids. An avid reader, she figured what better gift than a new book.

Khloe launched her project by using her life savings of $141 to buy 141 books at the dollar store. Family members jumped in to support her cause and she was able to donate 350 new books to the local police department. Word of her work spread quickly and donations poured in, including 1,000 books from Disney. Soon Khloe was giving new books to neighboring police departments and organizing free Pop-Up Book Fairs for kids. During the pandemic when book drives proved difficult, she worked with her City Council to organize a drive-thru book donation at City Hall and collected 5,000 new books. Her goal is to collect 1,000,000 new books for children around the world. “I’ve learned that if you have a dream in your heart, do something with that dream,” says Khloe. “You can start small but if you put your whole heart in it, then your dream can become as big as you want!”

Laalitya Acharya

The Nereid Project Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

18

Home State

Ohio

Laalitya Acharya invented Nereid, a low-cost, globally applicable device that can detect water contamination within seconds. Her system uses Artificial Intelligence and can be placed directly into water pipes to detect microbial water contamination at low concentrations before it spreads. Slightly bigger than a cell phone, Nereid costs approximately $75 and only requires access to low power. The device takes microscopic images of water and runs the photos through a custom neural network that Laalitya designed. It then transmits the information to a water plant or local authorities, notifying them of any contamination. She is currently field-testing Nereid in her hometown near Cincinnati as well as in Morocco, in collaboration with Columbia University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

Laalitya began her project at age 15 following a trip to visit relatives in India, where she and her family fell ill from drinking contaminated water. She resolved to address the water crisis and launched The Nereid Project to help through innovation and education. Along with inventing her AI device, she has hosted more than 200 Water Summits to teach people of all ages about the severity of water poverty and ways to help alleviate it. Her hands-on programs, now offered online, have reached thousands of people in nearly a dozen countries. “I am truly grateful to everybody who has been a part of The Nereid Project’s journey,” says Laalitya. “Our story has just begun and I’m so excited to see where it goes!”

Lucy Westlake

LucyClimbs Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

18

Home State

Illinois

Additional Media Coverage

Naperville Community Television – 09/29/22
Local Today – 09/29/22
Patch (IL) – 09/28/22
Daily Herald – 09/26/22
Chicago Tribune/Naperville Sun – 09/23/22
Lucy Westlake founded LucyClimbs to raise awareness and funds for the world’s water crisis. She has raised more than $30,000 to bring safe water technology to the developing world by hosting used shoe drives, selling LucyClimbs merchandise, and climbing the world’s highest mountains. She has summitted the highest point in each of the 50 U.S. states and in May 2022, became the youngest American woman ever to summit Everest. She began her water work at age 13 after a decade of corresponding with her Ugandan pen pal named Faith. Lucy had learned of Faith’s daily two-mile walk to fetch contaminated water and had vowed to help. In 7th grade, she discovered WaterStep, a nonprofit located near her hometown that installs sustainable chlorinators around the world. Within months, Lucy and her family were in Uganda, finally meeting Faith and installing a chlorinator in her village.

Lucy’s time in Uganda served as a call to action. She realized she could use her passion for climbing to raise awareness of the world’s water crisis – and could rally her peers to raise funds for the cause. Through WaterStep, she organized a used shoe drive at her school to provide affordable footwear for people in developing countries and funds for WaterStep. The drive’s huge success inspired Lucy to expand it to other schools. She established a Teen Board of students from ten area high schools that now organizes shoe drives every March on World Water Day. The group has raised $25,000 so far. Early in 2022, Lucy returned to Uganda to visit Faith and to help install more chlorinator systems. “I want to inspire a generation of young people to use their gifts and passions to make the world a better place,” says Lucy. “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”

Luna Abadía

Effective Climate Action Project Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

17

Home State

Oregon

Luna Abadía founded the Effective Climate Action Project (ECAP) to increase awareness of solutions to climate change – especially the possibilities of systemic thinking and collective action. Her nonprofit facilitates climate simulation workshops to help people fully understand the climate crisis and empower them to take effective action. Her workshops use computer models designed by MIT and Climate Interactive to demonstrate how different policy measures like renewable energy impact our global warming trajectory. Luna’s passion to protect the planet stems from her childhood days in the forests behind her Pacific Northwest home. Dismayed in middle school to learn about the climate crisis, she began volunteering with the Portland Audubon Society and Clean Energy Fund. A high school year spent in Japan increased her awareness of the global impacts of climate change. A few months after returning home, she launched ECAP in the summer of 2020.

Luna has selected a group of 13 youth from nine countries including the Netherlands and Indonesia to train as Climate Simulation Leaders. She teaches them to interpret and clearly communicate simulation information to audiences from middle school students to policy makers. Her youth leaders then bring the simulation workshops to their communities. Luna is currently working with Oregon’s largest school district to create a climate policy and curriculum. She has also trained Oregon teachers and students in running climate simulation workshops. Selected as a delegate to the UN’s Climate Change Conference of Youth during COP26 in 2021, she had the chance to present the group’s Climate Policy statement to world leaders, including President Biden. “Youth have the strongest voice in this fight. We’re the ones with passion and the ability to view the world with hope,” says Luna. “No one is ever too young to raise their voice and make a difference.”

Sahana Mantha

Foundation for Girls

Age at Winning Prize

15

Home State

North Carolina

Additional Media Coverage

Charlotte Weekly – 09/26/22
Sahana Mantha co-founded Foundation for Girls (FFG) to economically empower homeless single mothers and support their children. Her nonprofit connects homeless single mothers with consistent, compassionate coaches to help the women become financially savvy, digitally capable, career confident, and socially connected. FFG coaches build bridges and human connections for transformative impact and multi-generational change. Since 2014, FFG has supported more than 2,500 homeless single mothers and their 450 children. In 2021 alone, the organization provided over 3,000 hours of group and one-on-one coaching and distributed nearly 13,000 care packs containing hygiene products, diapers, and children’s clothes. Sahana has built long-term community and corporate partnerships at the local and national level. She shares with supporters moving testimonials of young single mothers who with FFG’s help have finished high school, enrolled in college, and are financially supporting their children.

Sahana and her sister Shreya began their work in middle school by volunteering at a homeless shelter for teenage trafficking survivors. The girls there talked repeatedly about their need for guidance, support, and skills in order to land stable jobs and change their situations. In 2014, Sahana and Shreya assembled a team of women from the community to support the girls, paying tribute to their late grandmother who had challenged them to “do something to help girls.” Since then, the sisters have grown their team to 75 consistent coaches and an additional 150 volunteers. Sahana currently co-leads FFG’s Digitally Forward program to support girls in obtaining their Microsoft Office Suite certification. She gives each participant a laptop, sourcing and often rebuilding the computers herself. “I’ve learned about the power of collaboration and how far we can go if we work together,” says Sahana. “I’ve also seen that teens can work alongside young adults to create solutions to community challenges.”

Sri Nihal Tammana

Recycle My Battery Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

13

Home State

New Jersey

Additional Media Coverage

Tap Into Edison – 09/22/22
Insider NJ – 09/21/22
Sri Nihal Tammana founded Recycle My Battery to promote and facilitate the recycling of used batteries. His nonprofit installs free battery recycling bins and educates young people and adults about battery recycling. In just three years he has built a team of 250 student volunteers across the globe who have recycled nearly 200,000 batteries and educated millions of people. Nihal learned at age 10 that 15 billion batteries are thrown away each year and that most end up in landfills where they pollute groundwater, harm the ecosystem, and can cause catastrophic fires. Inspired to tackle the problem, he began collecting used batteries from his community. He deposited them in free recycling bins at stores like Staples until he was told he was bringing too many and had to stop.

Undeterred, he reached out for help from Call2Recycle, the largest battery recycling nonprofit in North America. Call2Recycle agreed to provide recycling bins and handle the recycling logistics for free, with Recycle My Battery placing bins in schools, libraries, and other public places. Nihal next approached his school district’s superintendent for permission to place battery bins in the district’s 19 schools. Given the go-ahead, he began recruiting other school kids to help him distribute bins. Nihal’s organization now operates across the U.S. and is expanding to other countries including Canada, Switzerland, and India. “Earth gives us so much – oxygen, food, water – everything! – so it’s important that we give something back when we can,” says Nihal. “I always say, ‘If I can make Earth a better place to live, you can! If you can make Earth a better place to live, we all can!’”

William Charouhis

We are Forces of Nature Leaf

Age at Winning Prize

16

Home State

Florida

Will Charouhis founded We are Forces of Nature to combat climate change and to protect coastlines from the effects of sea level rise. His nonprofit’s A Million Mangroves initiative aims to restore or plant one million mangroves. He is passionate about mangroves’ ability to protect against coastal erosion, absorb greenhouse gasses, and support marine biodiversity. He began his work in middle school as part of Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council. Since then, he has paneled with Dr. Goodall at United Nations conferences on the power of young people to effect positive change. During the pandemic, he restored more than six miles of mangrove roots along the Miami shoreline to regenerate growth. When Hurricane Eta caused massive coastal mudslides in Central America, he collected and arranged for the delivery of more than 1,100 reusable bags of food and supplies. After an oceanfront condominium in his neighborhood collapsed in 2021, Will was invited to serve as the youth voice on a committee tasked with investigating the cause of the collapse and what could be done to protect coastlines.

At the 2021 United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), he met with officials from Peru, Fiji, and the Seychelles to discuss mangroves’ role in mitigating coastal risk. He has also spoken about their ability to sequester carbon with their quick-growing, leafy mass. Passionate about mangroves’ myriad benefits, Will knows well the challenge of planting them. Of the 289 mangrove seedlings he has planted in tidal areas in the past two years, only 20% have survived. He is currently conducting field research to develop better ways to grow and plant seedlings. He also continues to encourage residents to restore older mangroves by removing ocean trash from their roots. “I’ve learned to never take ‘no’ for an answer and to persevere,” says Will. “Youth have a can-do attitude. We don’t understand bureaucracy, so we don’t let it stop us.”

HONOREES

Arsh Pal

Art by Arsh

Age 12, Iowa

Media Coverage

KIYX Radio – 09/23/22

Arsh Pal created Art by Arsh to share his love of painting and raise money for charities through sales of his artwork. He has raised more than $15,000 for organizations including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He also teaches painting at the nursing home where his mother works. Arsh delights in the residents’ joy as they paint and sees art as a way to enhance their quality of life. He hopes to bring joy to more of the elderly through his work with Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents, which supports seniors in nursing homes. Arsh launched his initiative at age 8 when he began painting with acrylics on canvas. Interested in selling his artwork, he realized he could use the money to help those in need. He chose St. Jude as his first beneficiary and within a year, delivered a $1,000 check to the hospital. Arsh has created and posted dozens of tutorials on his YouTube channel and teaches art classes for kids. “My parents always tell me, ‘Everyone lives for themselves; you can live for others,’” says Arsh. “That motivates me and I know that every small step and contribution will make a big difference.”

Ethan Bledsoe

Confront the Climate Crisis Leaf

Age 18, Indiana

Ethan Bledsoe founded Confront the Climate Crisis to engage youth in climate change policy making, community action, and education. He launched his nonprofit in 2019, inspired by youth climate activists around the world. He began by rallying 300 peers to join him in a school strike, demanding the addition of a high school environmental science class that would teach students about climate change. The strike made waves. It brought a new AP Environmental Science class and a ten-fold increase in his school’s environmental club membership. Ethan then successfully spearheaded a climate resolution for the city of West Lafayette, which set a carbon neutrality date of 2038. To engage children, he created Gardening Up the Walls at his local library, a vertical garden made from recycled plastic bottles. He has also fundraised to build seven Little Free Libraries across his city, each stocked solely with climate-related books. His statewide petition calling for climate action in Indiana recently exceeded 25,000 signatures. “The climate crisis must be treated as the crisis it is by the state of Indiana,” says Ethan. “The future lies with my generation, and I will continue to fight passionately for a sustainable world.”

Isabel Sutton

JustIZZY Leaf

Age 13, Michigan

Media Coverage

MLIVE – 09/29/22
WDIV TV – 09/27/22

Isabel Sutton has raised nearly $8,000 for environmental causes by selling handmade eco-friendly products. She also raises awareness of the need to reduce plastic consumption. Through her JustIZZY initiative, she designs biodegradable bracelets and ornaments and donates proceeds to nonprofits such as wildlife rescue centers. She affixes each handmade piece to a recycled card printed with information about the benefitting organization and a reminder to Use Less Plastic. Izzy grew up conducting frog surveys and monitoring blue bird nesting boxes. When she learned in fifth grade that plastic pollution was killing albatross, she created a slide show to alert her classmates to the plastics problem. That led to petitioning her school to use less plastic – and that grew into asking the School Board and city officials to ban single-use plastic water bottles at school functions. Izzy recently asked the governor to place limits on Michigan’s overall plastic consumption. “I’m grateful for this journey I’ve been on for three years,” says Izzy. “I’ve discovered a passion for environmental issues and have learned to never give up on things that matter.”

Kelly Tung

Youth Environmental Power Initiative Leaf

Age 16, California

Kelly Tung founded Youth Environmental Power Initiative (YEPI) to empower young people to combat climate change and advocate for environmental justice and racial equity. Her nonprofit has inspired thousands of teens to engage in legislative advocacy and community action. She has organized numerous Environmental Justice Symposiums to help youth understand the connection between climate change and racial inequity. At the symposiums, she trains participants to use technology to analyze how environmental quality problems are disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities and low-income neighborhoods. She also works to promote green infrastructure and transportation equity and has helped revitalize a local bike trail. Kelly launched YEPI in 2020, compelled by her state’s devastating and climate-driven wildfires. Since then, she has provided a platform for teens in more than 20 states and 13 countries to lead climate movements and initiatives in their own communities. YEPI has also collaborated with municipal governments to host activities aimed at building environmental awareness and increasing accessibility for people of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. “I’ve learned that adults value the opinions of youth who choose to take action,” says Kelly. “Advocacy works. Perseverance creates results.”

Laura Kopec

Feeding the Fosters

Age 16, Florida

Laura Kopec co-founded Feeding the Fosters (FTF) to provide healthy, homemade dinners for foster families. Since 2019, her nonprofit has prepared nearly 40,000 individual meals with the help of more than 2,500 volunteers. FTF has raised over $300,000 through grants, donations, and fundraisers, allowing the group to purchase commercial refrigeration equipment and use a commercial kitchen, where volunteers gather to cook. Raised in an Italian family that values shared meals, Laura and her sister began FTF by cooking dinner once a week for a nearby group foster home. Soon, friends were asking to help cook and other foster families were requesting meals. The sisters responded by registering with the Department of Agriculture and reaching out to local businesses for food surplus. They now coordinate weekly donations from Einstein Bagels and Panera Bread and collaborate with other nonprofits to keep their grocery costs down and excess food out of landfills. Laura is currently helping draft state legislation in support of foster children. “My heart is full knowing I’m making a change in the lives of the most vulnerable children,” says Laura. “I plan to continue advocating for positive changes in the foster care system.”

Leo Barnes

Charity Baking

Age 18, New Hampshire

Leo Barnes founded Charity Baking which provides Do-It-Yourself baking kits that include everything needed to make bagels and pretzels from scratch. His slogan is “Donation made Delicious” and his kits encourage home bakers to give half their baked items away. Leo uses his kits to anchor school fundraisers where the proceeds go to the school, the kits go to the parents, and the baked items are shared within the broader community. He began in 2020 after a cross-country move from L.A. to rural New Hampshire. Missing good bagels, when the pandemic hit, he decided to master making them. Batch after batch overwhelmed his family and he began donating them to his local food shelter. “What if an army of home bakers could make and donate baked items?” mused Leo, and Charity Baking was born. To date, he’s helped schools raise $6,000. In the coming months, he hopes to run 60 fundraisers, help schools raise $60,000, and better connect students to food charities. “Rather than just trying to make a big pile of money, businesses should try and make a big difference,” says Leo. “With Charity Baking, I’m proud to help teens and schools nationwide fundraise for the causes they care most about.”

Orion Jean

Race to Kindness

Age 11, Texas

Orion Jean founded the Race to Kindness to spread kindness and inspire others to do the same. In two years, he has collected and distributed hundreds of thousands of toys, meals, and books for people in need. His efforts earned him Time’s Kid of the Year for 2021. Orion began his work after winning the 2020 Think Kindness National Speech Contest, in which he challenged people to change the world by being kind. He decided to lead by example and launched the Race to 500 Toys for hospitalized kids. Within a month he’d collected over 600 new toys for Children’s Health Hospital in Dallas. He next organized the Race to 100,000 Meals and in partnership with TangoTab, a Texas nonprofit, collected 100,000 bagged meals for food insecure families. An avid reader, Orion most recently launched the Race to 500,000 Books – and has already met his goal. He’s currently working with literacy and community nonprofits to distribute the books to children at Free Book Fairs across Texas. “My goal is to spread the message of kindness and love throughout the world,” says Orion. “It’s not about attaining a certain number of books or meals or toys but about reaching people.”

Reed Spaulding

Tributary Festival Leaf

Age 17, Maryland

Reed Spaulding created the Tributary Festival, an annual benefit concert that raises money to protect the Chesapeake Bay. His 2021 and 2022 events on the Inner Harbor of Baltimore have drawn more than 500 attendees and have raised nearly $20,000 for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The free festivals feature live music from a half-dozen professional and student bands, including Reed’s own. Reed grew up kayaking and digging for oysters on the Chesapeake Bay and as he entered high school, felt compelled to protect it. He decided to pair his passions for the Bay and music to make a difference. A drummer since age 10, he’d formed a rock band in fifth grade and had seen music festivals rally entire communities behind a cause. He launched into staging a festival to benefit the Bay. When the pandemic twice delayed his plans, he maintained momentum by staging a backyard concert and hosting a live-streamed festival of pre-recorded band performances. Shortly before the 2021 festival, Reed founded the Tributary Club at his high school to help plan future concerts. “With hard work and determination, you really can bring your goals to fruition,” says Reed. “I’ve learned I’m more capable than I thought and that students can make a massive impact.”

Reshma Kosaraju

Created AI Model to Predict Forest Fires Leaf

Age 16, California

Reshma Kosaraju invented a way to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict forest fires with nearly 90% accuracy. Her AI model uses Machine Learning and open access meteorological data such as temperature, humidity, and wind speed to determine when and where forest fires are likely to occur. Reshma’s model could help firefighters suppress fires as soon as they start, saving lives and resources and preventing large-scale ecological damage. She has developed an interface that allows users to input location and weather data to obtain a real-time prediction of the probability of fire in their area, and is adapting this into an app. Reshma’s work stems from the 2018 Camp Fire that claimed 86 lives in northern California soon after she and her family moved to the area. Curious about finding ways to predict fires, she dove into online resources to teach herself AI. For her innovation, she was named a finalist in the 2019 3M Young Scientist Challenge, which granted her access to 3M scientists’ support. She has also received invaluable feedback from local firefighters who have tested her model. “I’ve learned what I can accomplish if I’m willing to put in the effort,” says Reshma. “I’ve also learned about the importance of involving the community in my work.”

Steven Hoffen

Growing Peace

Age 14, New York

Steven Hoffen founded Growing Peace to foster peace between communities in conflict and to construct hydroponic systems to help feed vulnerable groups. His nonprofit grew out of a 17-minute documentary film he created to highlight the hydroponics project at an Israeli nonprofit called Sindyanna of Galilee. The project brings Jewish and Arab women together to grow food hydroponically on the rooftops of Arab women’s homes. The women are able to feed their families, sell what they don’t eat, learn new job skills – and grow peace. Steven’s inspiration began on a family trip to Israel, where he spent a day at Sindyanna. Moved by their work, he decided to share it with others through a documentary, despite no filmmaking experience. His documentary has won awards in more than 70 film festivals around the world. Most recently, he has raised more than $15,000 to construct a hydroponics system at a Tel Aviv food pantry that primarily serves asylum seekers from Africa. “I’ve realized my central belief is that everyone should have an equal opportunity to live their life to the fullest,” says Steven. “I’m proud to help people do that in a small way and to try to help solve some of the world’s big problems.”

ABOUT US

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, a program of the nonprofit organization Young Heroes Project, 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.

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WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Media inquiries and other questions:

Barbara Ann Richman

Executive Director

director@barronprize.org

Questions about the online application:

admin@barronprize.org

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Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

P.O. Box 1470

Boulder, CO 80306