Youree Drive student receives national honor for eco-friendly efforts
Youree Drive Middle School student Joey Gouthiere has convinced hundreds of people to join his cause and take a pledge to pick up litter, recycle, plant trees and flowers and conserve water and electricity, all in efforts to make the earth a better place to live.
While doing his part to clean the earth, this eighth grader has received recognition and notoriety for his efforts. Recently, Joey was recognized as an honoree for the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for his service to the community through his environmental nonprofit Geaux Green. The Gloria Barron Prize celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds across North America. The Barron Prize annually recognizes 25 outstanding young leaders who have made a significant and positive impact on people, their communities and the environment.
“I was so surprised to receive the letter, plaque and a certificate for my work with Geaux Green from the Gloria Barron organization,” Joey said. “I feel so lucky to get the attention that this project has given me.”
Winners for the Barron Prize are chosen by a volunteer committee of professionals with extensive experience in areas of education, youth service and those who are passionate about the heroic potential that they show in their perspective communities. Geaux Green is an environmental nonprofit organization Joey founded when he was in elementary school. Since Geaux Green’s inception, the organization has received substantial notoriety for its eco-friendly focus.
“Since I was seven, seeing litter on the ground bothered me,” Joey said. “I want everyone to feel as I do, that having a clean world matters to our future.”
Joey’s mother Amanda Gouthiere was overjoyed to help her son accomplish his mission when he began his Geaux Green efforts. Even though Amanda plays a large part in the operational portion of the organization, Joey is given responsibilities to coordinate speaking engagements and respond to emails.
“Joey is so passionate about making sure there is no litter in his community and school,” Amanda said. “Although I helped with creating social media pages, Joey has taken full responsibility for all other aspects of the project.”
Over the years, Joey has received recognition from Shreveport City Council, the Caddo Parish School Board and Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards for work with Geaux Green. As well, Gouthiere was selected as Louisiana's Top Middle-Level Volunteer for the 2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for the Geaux Green initiative. The award is the largest youth recognition program and is based exclusively on volunteer community service.
Created in 1995 by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the program honors middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level. As a winner of this award, Joey received a four-day all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. This award also came with a cash award of $1,000 and receipt of a silver medallion. While in Washington, Joey and his fellow honorees shared their experiences and ideas with one another, met top youth volunteers from Spirit of Community programs from other countries, toured the historic monuments and landmarks of the nation's capital and visited their U.S. Senators on Capitol Hill.
“It was a great experience for me to visit D.C. for the Geaux Green project,” Joey said. “My goal is to help make this project become one that anyone in the world can be involved in.”
Geaux Green has also received funding from local businesses that donated gardening tools, plants and clean-up supplies. Although recognition and awards are exciting for most 13-year-olds, Joey said he hopes his community efforts will encourage other young people to support a cause that helps others as well. Joey’s long-term goal is to grow Geaux Green into a global movement and to someday become an anthropologist.