A Greener Future for Frederick and Father-Daughter Weekends

A 17 year old smiles as she holds a green bin.
Shrusti Amula, 17, won the 2023 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for her nonprofit,
Rise N Shine Foundation.

Frederick Area Teen’s Food Recovery Foundation Earns National Recognition

A Frederick area teen from Clarksburg is one of 15 student winners of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Each winner received $10,000 for service work or higher education.

This national award was established in 2001 by author T.A. Barron, who named it after his mother, Gloria, and has helped more than 500 young people across the United States and Canada raise $28 million.

For Shrusti Amula, 17, the award was for her creation of the Rise N Shine Foundation five years ago to reduce food waste in her community. Today, her nonprofit runs food recovery and composting programs in Montgomery County Public Schools—the state’s largest school district, and its surrounding community.

The school food recovery program collects uneaten, unopened food that would typically be discarded—nearly 9,000 items each month—and makes the food accessible to students in need.

“I’ve learned that persistence is key and not to be discouraged by setbacks,” Shrusti says in a news release. “I’ve also learned the value of being a solutionist—someone willing to work hard to ensure change—not just an activist.”

For now, the program operates in 39 schools, but within the year, Shrusti’s project is slated for all 209 district schools. Additional food waste is being composted at 12 area schools. Rise N Shine also supports community food recovery programs, providing more than 150,000 meals valued at $225,000.

But Shrusti didn’t stop there—also creating a postcard campaign supporting legislation that would establish a grant program for school composting statewide. Her campaign collected 17,000 postcards across 50 schools. The bills for the grant program passed unanimously, allocating $1.25 million for implementation.

Online applications are now open for 2024 Barron prize winners through April 15. Each year, judges select 15 winners and 10 honorees between the ages of 8 to 18 who led an extraordinary service activity and demonstrate qualities such as courage, compassion, dedication and a positive spirit.

Winners will be announced in September. To apply, visit barronprize.org.

Frederick County elementary school pitches in for a brighter, greener future for Maryland

Volunteer seed harvesters have been collecting seeds from the trees behind New Market Elementary School in contribution to the 5 Million Trees Initiative, which aims to plant and grow one tree for every Marylander. The initiative focuses on planting in underserved urban communities.

In the fifth episode of Season 35 of Maryland Public Television’s “Outdoors Maryland,” Francis Smith, a natural resources planner with the Maryland Forest Service, explains how the seeds are collected and why seed-harvesting volunteers are essential. The episode highlights the unique ways locals are laying the foundation for the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.

In light of Earth Day on April 22, these efforts also draw focus to larger goals in Maryland to mitigate climate change. The 2023 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act Plan lays out a path for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

For more information about current initiatives or to get trees planted in your town, visit dnr.maryland.gov. Watch the “Outdoors Maryland” episode on demand at video.mpt.tv/show/outdoors-maryland.

Celebrate Earth Day at home with these eco-friendly reads.

Father-Daughter Weekends

Fathers and daughters have a special bond. This April, two Bible-based camps are offering father-daughter retreats where dads and their mini-mes can make memories.

Joy El Camps & Retreats, in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, is hosting a faith-based weekend getaway (April 12-14) for fathers and daughters in first through twelfth grade.

(joyelcamps.org) Cedarbrook Camp Mid Atlantic’s retreat will welcome fathers and daughters ages 6 to 12 to Tel Hai Camp & Retreat in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania (April 19-21). (By press time, registration will have closed March 29.) cedarbrookmidatlantic.org