Sarah Connor, 11
Hometown: Northport, New York
Family: Parents Amy and Gene; brothers William and James, both 8
Sarah Connor stands at a cloth-covered table and pours customers cup after cup of icy lemonade. This might seem like a typical lemonade stand, but Sarah's not hoping for extra spending money. She has something bigger in mind—the earth.
Since she was 5, this sixth-grader has been running her lemonade stand to raise money for various charities each Memorial Day and Cow Harbor Day, Northport's annual celebration of the village's history. The parades for both events pass by her home, so her mom makes as much as 10 gallons of pink lemonade. Sarah has already raised a total of $4,000 for disaster relief for UNICEF and the American Red Cross, as well as for organizations like the American Cancer Society and March of Dimes. Four years ago, Sarah pledged to focus on eco-minded causes, and last year, she was the youngest person to win the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Quality Award.
When Sarah was in third grade, she began her successful campaign to start a recycling program at her elementary school. She's given presentations to local Girl Scout troops, teaching kids about carbon footprints and providing handouts— complete with addresses—on how to write world leaders about eco issues. Her latest mission is to replant 20 trees along her village's Main Street that were cut down after a bee invasion. Between lemonade and hot chocolate stands, and additional donations, she's well on her way to raising the $4,000 necessary to reach her goal.
This Earth Day marks the two-year anniversary of her website, ProjectLemonAid.org, which teaches kids how they can help save the planet. The site encourages them to have a "Save the Earth Birthday Party," like Sarah did when she turned 8. She has also won awards for "Beauty Is Disappearing," her short film about species that are becoming extinct. Currently, she is in the process of launching an eco-themed blog. "Saving the earth is important. If we don't, there are going to be really big consequences that us kids will have to deal with," says Sarah. "If we all work together and do a little bit every day, then we can help the earth heal itself."
Originally published in the July 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.