Conservation Northwest volunteer awarded by the National Wildlife Federation
Conservation Northwest / May 19, 2020 / Members, Restoring Wildlife, Wildlife Monitoring
Manoj Sarathy was selected as the 2020 National Conservation Young Leader for his work using computer science to improve wildlife monitoring projects.
By Keiko Betcher, Communications and Outreach Associate
This year, the National Wildlife Federation’s National Conservation Young Leader Award will go to an important member of our Conservation Northwest community. We’re proud to congratulate Manoj Sarathy, who has helped our work through fundraising and volunteering with our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project (CWMP), on this prestigious award.
The National Wildlife Federation has selected Sarathy for his efforts to develop innovative ways to study wildlife, as well as engage his peers in conservation efforts. During his time as a CWMP volunteer, Sarathy sought to improve the time-consuming process of sorting through remote camera images and removing ones that don’t contain wildlife. He applied his interest in computer science and—with little to no coding experience—taught himself how to program a machine-learning tool to automate the process.
“Unfortunately, while remote camera traps are good at taking pictures whenever animals are detected, they also take a lot of false positives,” said Sarathy. “When I learned about the recent big steps made in the field of image recognition, I thought about the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project and put two and two together.”
In addition to being a CWMP volunteer, Sarathy raised money for Conservation Northwest by selling t-shirts he heat-pressed with his own designs.
“I feel that everyone in society benefits in some way from environmental conservation organizations—consciously or unconsciously,” Sarathy said. “I wanted to do something to give back to the environmental community.”
Now a sophomore at the University of Washington studying computer science, Sarathy hopes to continue applying computer science to fields that need it, with a strong interest in environmental conservation.
“Even though wildlife are heavily affected by the decisions society makes, they have no voice. I aim to change this and work for wildlife to be safe and well protected.”
We are grateful for Sarathy’s commitment to wildlife conservation and the impressive initiative he’s taken to support Conservation Northwest’s efforts. His inspiring work has made a great impact on our community, and this award is well-deserved.
“My passion for the natural world is maintained everyday by seeing the great work being done by conservation organizations across the world,” Sarathy said. “I am grateful that I can do what I can to be of assistance.”