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2018 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes Recipient!

Thank you T.A. Barron for inspiring young people to make a positive impact in their community and beyond. I'm very honored to have been selected as one of this year's Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes recipients. Read the official press release below.

California Youth Wins National Award for Heroic Service Activity

Boulder, CO, September 17, 2018 – Shelby O’Neil, age 17, of San Juan Bautista, California, has been named a winner of the 2018 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Each year, the Barron Prize celebrates 25 inspiring, public-spirited young people from across the U.S. and Canada who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment. Fifteen top winners each receive $10,000 to support their service work or higher education.

Shelby founded Jr Ocean Guardians (, a non-profit that educates young children about plastic pollution and the ways they can protect our oceans and planet. She created an activity book for elementary students, including a Spanish edition, that she has distributed in classrooms to more than 1,000 children. She also created the #NoStrawNovember movement, requesting and receiving a statewide No Straw November Resolution from the California Coastal Commission. Her No Straw November movement has garnered more than 10,000 straw-free pledges on her social media sites from people in over 20 countries. Shelby is currently working on straw-free legislation, teaming with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and testifying at the California State Capitol in support of a straws upon request bill.

A longtime Girl Scout, Shelby formed Jr Ocean Guardians as a way to earn her Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. No Straw November gained a worldwide following within the Girl Scout community in 2017 with a special edition No Straw November patch. Fifty cents per patch – more than $2,000 total – was donated to Girl Scouts in Houston impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Shelby has also approached corporations including Alaska Airlines, Starbucks, and Costco, asking that they consider replacing their single-use plastic straws and stir sticks with more sustainable options. Already, Alaska Airlines has eliminated over 22 million plastic stir straws and citrus picks per year. “The ocean runs through my veins,” says Shelby. “When my work to protect it gets rough, I just continue to fight for something much bigger than myself.”

The Barron Prize was founded in 2001 by author T. A. Barron and was named for his mother, Gloria Barron. Each year’s 25 Barron Prize young heroes reflect the great diversity of America. They are female and male, urban and rural, and from various backgrounds. Many of them have focused on helping their communities and fellow beings; many others have focused on protecting the environment.

“Nothing is more inspiring than stories about heroic people who have truly made a difference to the world,” says Barron. “And we need our heroes today more than ever. Not celebrities, but heroes – people whose character can inspire us all. That is the purpose of the Gloria Barron Prize: to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their stories will inspire others.”

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