Photo from Preeya Raja.

“Preeya Raja manages to balance a very busy life with finding time to make her community a better place to live through her environmental initiatives.  She does so in a proactive and upbeat manner that is infectious.”

That’s what Jim Hudson, Executive Director of the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC), had to say about Raja’s dedication to the environment. She’s also very unique as the only Top 25 Finalist that is currently serving on a Board of Directors for an environmental non-profit organization.

She first heard about BARC through a first-year ecology class, and ever since, she’s been hooked on their mandate: to restore and clean-up Hamilton Harbour (Hamilton, ON) to its original state.

After years of environmental pollution from steel factories and other influences, it’s a daunting job that BARC has been working on for 20 years.

With this in hand, Raja set to work. She joined BARC as their Volunteer Coordinator in 2009, working with the public and getting them involved with BARC’s various eco-initiatives.

After the Board of Directors was so impressed with her work, she was elected onto their committee one year later, where she serves as a youth representative and provides insight on how to interact with school-aged demographics.

She isn’t stopping there, either. Raja aims to take a strong hold onto the BARC education committee, where she wants to investigate and make recommendations on targeting high school and university-aged students on BARC’s philosophy.

In the future, Raja aims to gets into health advocacy and make sure that others understand how the environment is an important factor. “The environment has a huge impact on health,” Raja said. “I think that it’s important to draw out that relation for the public because it’s not really seen as going hand-in-hand.”

For more information about the Bay Area Restoration Council, please see their website at