Seattle's Child

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teen environmental honor

Photos courtesy of Barron Foundation

Sammamish teen honored for work to help salmon, orcas

Maanit Goel's group pushes for removal of Snake River dams.

A local teen has been honored for his environmental work, specifically to help Northwest salmon and orcas.

Maanit Goel, 17, of Sammamish, has been named an honoree of the 2023 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Each year, the prize celebrates 25 inspiring young leaders who have made a significant positive impact on people, their communities and the environment.

Maanit founded the Washington Youth Ocean & River Conservation Alliance. He and other teen volunteers advocate for Pacific Northwest orcas and salmon. Their message is that the decline of Snake River chinook is in turn a threat to the orcas that feed on them.

The group has lobbied for the removal of the Snake River dams that endanger the salmon. They do this through letter-writing campaigns, rallies and marches at the state Capitol. Maanit has written statements to federal officials that have been cosigned by more than 1,000 fellow students. In addition, their efforts have been noticed by Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray.

“I’ve seen the influence young people can have on policy matters, even before we can vote,” Maanit said in a statement announcing the award. “The superpower of youth is in refusing to compromise when it comes to the future of our planet.”

The Barron Prizes were awarded to 15 winners and 10 honorees out of a pool of nearly 500 applicants from the U.S. and Canada. Winners each receive $10,000 to be applied to their higher education or to their service project.

About the Gloria Barron Prize

Author T. A. Barron writes about fictional young heroes in his novels, but champions inspiring young people in real life. He founded the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes in 2001. He named the prize after his mother, a quiet hero in his own life. Among other things, Gloria Barron worked for more than 20 years to create a unique nature museum at the Colorado School for the Blind. It is a museum where everything can be touched.


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About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 15-year-old girl.