The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds all across North America. Established in 2001 by author T.A. Barron, the Barron Prize annually honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive impact on people, animals, and the environment.  Fifteen top winners each receive $10,000 to support their service work or higher education.

Here are some of the great things that recent Barron Prize winners and honorees have done to help the Earth and wildlife:

Bria Neff, age 11, of South Dakota, founded Faces of the Endangered to protect endangered species through the sale of her artwork. She has sold more than 250 paintings of endangered animals and donated over $33,000 to animal conservation groups.

Claire Wayner and Mercedes Thompson, age 17, of Maryland, co-founded Baltimore Beyond Plastic to reduce trash and plastic pollution in their city on the Chesapeake Bay. Their non-profit of more than 500 students convinced the Baltimore City Council to pass a citywide ban on Styrofoam food containers.

Claire Vlases, age 15, of Montana created the Solar Makes Sense initiative and raised the $118,000 needed to install solar panels on her middle school. She has sparked a movement in her school district and community, inspiring a new commitment to green building. 

Genevieve Leroux, age 12, of Quebec
 created Milkweed for Monarchs to help protect migratory monarch butterflies. She raises and plants native milkweed – monarchs’ sole food source during their caterpillar phase – and has logged more than 500 hours conducting research on the butterflies. 

Marcus Deans, age 16, of Ontario invented the NOGOS water filter for use in developing countries. His filter costs just two dollars to manufacture and is made from three
readily-available materials: sugar, sand, and seashells.

Inspiring Youth

Robbie Bond, age 10, of Hawaii, created Kids Speak for Parks. It’s a non-profit that is building an army of activists. Moreover, including fourth-grade students (who can visit our national parks free of charge). They are speaking up to protect our national parks and monuments. 

Shelby O’Neil, age 17, of California, founded her non-profit, Jr Ocean Guardians. The organization educates young children about ways they can protect our oceans and planet. She also created the #NoStrawNovember movement and is working on legislation to eliminate plastic straws in California.

Shreya Ramachandran, age 14, of California, founded the non-profit Grey Water Project. It promotes the safe reuse of grey water, along with water conservation, as a way to address drought. Her outreach includes a curriculum for elementary students and a partnership with the United Nations Global Wastewater Initiative.

Olivia Colombo, age 17, of Massachusetts, invented a renewable energy technology. It captures kinetic and thermal energy from highways and converts it to electrical energy. She has received a provisional patent for her invention, as well as awards from groups such as MIT THINK. 

Ryan Hickman, age 8, of California, created Ryan’s Recycling Company. The company keeps cans, plastic bottles, and glass from polluting our environment. He is most passionate about protecting ocean animals from harm caused by trash. He has personally kept 76,000 pounds of pollution out of the ocean and our landfills.

Gitanjali Rao, age 12, of Colorado, invented an easy-to-use and inexpensive device to detect lead contamination in water. Lead contamination can cause neurological damage in children and adults. After the 2014 Flint, Michigan water crisis, she was determined to make lead detection easier.

Joey Gouthiere, Jr., age 12, of Louisiana, founded Geaux Green, an environmental campaign that encourages everyone to take care of the Earth. Moreover, he has convinced hundreds of people to join his cause and take his pledge to “pick up litter, recycle, plant trees and flowers, conserve water and electricity, and make the Earth a better place to live.”

Final Words

Since its inception, the Barron Prize has honored nearly 450 young heroes and has won the support of Girl Scouts of the USA, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, and the National Youth Leadership Council, among other organizations. Moreover, the annual application deadline for the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes is April 15th.  For more information, visit

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