Josh Kauderer, a 17-year-old graduate of The Fieldston School in Riverdale, the Bronx, is a recipient of the 2015 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for his work with the nonprofit organization Elephant Highway, which he founded with his brother Max.
In 2012, Kauderer and his family traveled from their home in Englewood, NJ, to Kenya, where they were faced with the plight of elephants in many African nations. During their time at a Kenyan lodge, an elephant nearby was killed—slaughtered by poachers for its tusks, which can be sold for thousands of dollars each in Asian markets. Kauderer learned that this death went beyond just a single killing: poaching is decimating African elephant populations, which is negatively affecting both the tourism industry, a large source of revenue in many African nations, and the ecosystem.
Kauderer was shocked by the killing. That same year, he and his brother established their nonprofit organization Elephant Highway to “combine awareness campaigns and funding to save the elephants in Africa,” he says. To accomplish this, Kauderer designs T-shirts, sells them on his website, and donates all of the profits to organizations that are dedicated to protecting African elephants. In addition, he and his brother speak at schools and set up booths at street fairs to sell their T-shirts and spread awareness.
For his innovative and inspiring work, Kauderer was awarded The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes in September. The annual prize, created a 15 years ago by children's author T.A. Barron in memory of his mother, honors 25 outstanding young people from across the U.S. who have carried out a significant project to help others and/or the environment. Winners each receive $5,000 to be applied to their service project or higher education.
In addition to designing and selling T-shirts, Kauderer created a documentary film titled One Every 15 Minutes about the plight of African elephants. He also continues to travel to African nations, most recently Malawi, to meet with partners and work in wildlife centers.
Kauderer, who is a freshman at Dartmouth University, says it’s “shocking how many people don’t know” what’s happening to the elephants in Africa. His goal is to raise awareness globally, but especially among young adults. “Young people have the most potential to change the situation,” he says. “If the youth are involved, we have a much better chance.”
For more information about Elephant Highway and its mission, or to purchase a T-shirt, visit elephanthighway.org. Kauderer’s short documentary film can be found at 1every15film.com.
For more information on The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, including a complete list of this year's winners and instructions on how to nominate a young hero in your community, visit barronprize.org.