RESTON, Va. — For his dedication and passion for innovating wildlife conservation strategies, the National Wildlife Federation honored Manoj Sarathy, a volunteer at Conservation Northwest, with the National Conservation Achievement Young Leader Award.
Sarathy dedicated more than four years to learning about conservation issues in wildlife research. Collaborating with leaders in conservation biology and information technology, he used artificial intelligence to develop machine learning models to support researchers monitoring wildlife through remote cameras. After teaching himself how to write code, Sarathy developed a program that separates false triggers and human detections from wildlife photos, reducing the amount of time that it takes researchers to analyze thousands of data points.
“Instilling a love and respect for our natural world and wildlife in our younger generations is vital if we want our movement to succeed. To have long-lasting, positive impacts on the environment, we need to engage youth in science-based learning and invest in environmental education,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Manoj’s tireless dedication to improve and innovate the conservation movement should serve as an example to Americans of all ages. He has showed us that hard work and will, combined with a proficiency in science and technology, can revolutionize and elevate the ways in which we protect wildlife.”
“I am honored to receive this award. Younger generations will play a decisive role in advancing the environmental movement,” said Sarathy. “Investing in wildlife conservation and climate research will benefit our society as a whole and provide young people like me with the tools necessary to promote and grow this movement. It is our duty to protect wildlife and nature, placing conservation and the pursuit of sustainability at the center of the tools that we design in the future.”
As a high school student, Sarathy started a conservation club, raising and donating funds to benefit local non-profits focused on wildlife. As a supporting member of Conservation Northwest and as a team lead, Sarathy engaged youth in the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, teaching them how to monitor for wildlife using remote camera traps. He sought out opportunities to support local habitat restoration projects and Conservation Northwest’s annual auction. Sarathy also presented his wildlife monitoring initiative at multiple functions, engaging a broad audience in this unique angle on the convergence of wildlife conservation and information technology.
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