News / USA

Florida Teen Honored for Conservation Efforts

Avalon Theisen, 14, of Florida was honored with the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for her conservation work.
Avalon Theisen, 14, of Florida was honored with the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for her conservation work.
Faiza Elmasry
In April, Avalon Theisen, 11, organized Tampa, Florida’s "Save the Frogs Day" event.

“This year we created something that I don’t think had ever been done before," Avalon says. "We videoed 347 people and one happy dog and created Florida’s largest human frog chorus to raise awareness for amphibian conservation."

That would be humans making frog-like noises.

Through her website, and Conserve It Forward, the non-profit she founded two years ago, Theisen raises money for conservation, inspires other kids to take care of the natural world and shares her passion for protecting frogs.

“I’m always adding new programs to ‘Conserve It Forward’ and looking for new ways to help the environment as well as ways for others to get involved," she says. "Some of my ideas are to start a snake conservation program for little kids, say just from pre-school to second grade. I really love snakes. They are actually my favorite animal.”
Avalon Theisen, 14, organized Tampa, Florida’s Avalon Theisen, 14, organized Tampa, Florida’s "Save the Frogs Day" event.
x
Avalon Theisen, 14, organized Tampa, Florida’s
Avalon Theisen, 14, organized Tampa, Florida’s "Save the Frogs Day" event.

Theisen's efforts were recognized this year. She is being honored with the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. The annual award, established by children’s book author T. A. Barron, honors young leaders, between eight and 18 years old, who are making a difference in the world.

Barron says the prize recognizes that even children can make the world a better place. “That’s the truth, but most young people don’t know that or if they heard of it they wouldn’t believe it.”

That’s why Barron started the prize 12 years ago. The winners receive $2500 to support their education or service project.

Honorees have to meet certain criteria, according to Barron. That includes a genuine sense of passion about a problem that affects humanity or the environment; a real and lasting commitment to try to make a difference; and effectiveness, measurable results of a project that has actually made a difference.

The prize is named for Barron’s mother.

“She was a teacher," he says. "She taught at a Colorado school for the blind. She always believed that every person could somehow make a difference.”

Like Barron's mother, this year’s honorees have made a difference in a wide range of areas.

“We have a boy who developed a solar lantern that’s now being used in villages in East Africa, that can light homes effectively and no energy needed," he says. "We have a girl who is developing sustainable farming techniques at her farm. We have a boy who developed puzzles that can help older people with Alzheimer’s to reclaim their ability to remember.”
 
Barron notes that, although the Young Heroes have different interests and backgrounds, they all possess self-confidence.

“The one thing that's really in common is a sense of themselves as a bundle of energy that could be turned  toward positive good and help other people” he says.

And, he adds, they have family support, parents who encourage them to turn their dreams into action, and to realize they really can change the world.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Avalon Theisen was 14 years old. VOA regrets the error.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mark A. Cook from: Dunnellon, Florida, USA
October 19, 2012 7:04 PM
While that is a great article about a great young lady, you all have her age wrong. She is 11, a few months short of 12, not 14.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs