For so long as he may bear in mind, Theo Monnin had a poster of an SR-71 Blackbird plane hanging on his bed room wall. As a child, he loved visits to The Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Now Theo is a 17-year-old senior at Raisbeck Aviation High School, subsequent door to the museum he grew up visiting, in a Jet City that sparked ambitions round aviation and aerospace.

“As I got closer to high school, beginning to actually get into robotics and the idea of STEM, I applied [to Aviation] and ended up getting in and it’s been a really good four years,” Theo mentioned.

And, regardless of the challenges of distant studying, it’s an excellent finish to 2020 as Theo is GeekWire’s Junior Geek of the Month for December. The month-to-month honor, offered by Northern Trust, acknowledges proficient younger innovators, creators and entrepreneurs within the Pacific Northwest.

Theo has excelled at Aviation High School, which is ranked No. 3 in Washington state by U.S. News & World Report, incomes a 3.95 GPA in coursework that features robotics, physics, circuit board design and AP courses in literature, historical past and arithmetic. He earned the college’s prestigious Wingman Award in 2017 and in combining his deep pursuits in aerospace and engineering, he created his personal alternative to be paired with a Blue Origin engineer as a part of his college’s mentorship program.

Because Raisbeck doesn’t provide sports activities, Theo competes as a beginning ahead in varsity basketball for West Seattle High School. He has his fingers crossed that his closing season, pushed again by the pandemic, may nonetheless occur.

Basketball is a bit totally different than the ball Theo grew up taking part in with — his father Brian Monnin is an entrepreneur who began Play Impossible, onetime makers of a linked, inflatable ball designed to maintain children energetic.

“Me and my little brother definitely did some product development hours on that,” Theo mentioned of the sensible ball.

Like lots of children, distant college has been robust for Theo. He misses the hands-on venture constructing in courses corresponding to Flight by Design and labs in school that supply 3D printing and extra. But initially of quarantine final spring, he acquired into images and drone flying and it’s created some fascinating alternatives within the months since.

Mount Rainier is seen in a drone picture shot above a farmland conservation venture on the Buckley Plateau. (Theo Monnin Photo)

“I just started using my drone, learning about it and thinking about ways I could use it for good,” Theo mentioned of the DJI Mavick 2 Pro that he flies.

With his college’s internship packages canceled by COVID-19 this yr, Theo was undeterred in studying about and reaching out to Lighthawk, a company which pairs volunteer airplane pilots with native politicians and conservationists to offer a birds-eye view of endangered coastal and guarded forest lands all through the U.S. and Canada.

Lighthawk didn’t but have a volunteer drone pilot program, however beloved the thought and launched Theo to the Washington Farmland Trust, which protects and stewards threatened farmland and was in search of new methods to review and promote the safety of those endangered lands with aerial footage.

“I don’t know how to fly a plane nor do I own a plane, but I can fly a drone,” Theo mentioned. “I wanted to see if I could provide a similar sort of service on a smaller scale.”

Theo Monnin hopes to encourage different drone pilots to make use of their gadgets to seize footage of endangered lands.

Gina Kilbridge, senior improvement supervisor at Washington Farmland Trust, mentioned Theo organized, shot and edited a sequence of aerial movies of one of many belief’s excessive precedence farm conservation initiatives on the Buckley Plateau close to Mount Rainier.

“I was deeply struck by Theo’s initiative,” Kilbridge mentioned. “As a non-profit, we are conscientious of expanding resources and video production is often cost prohibitive. And yet, there is no better medium to demonstrate the urgency to protect our region’s rapidly disappearing farmland.”

Kilbridge mentioned Theo was extraordinarily motivated, capturing and enhancing distinctive footage right into a multimedia presentation that he plans to share along with his fellow college students within the drone membership, in hopes of thrilling further volunteers to affix the hassle. And the communication instrument that he assembled will show invaluable to Washington Farmland Trust because it just about engages with its group of supporters.

Theo, who’s at present making use of to high schools the place he plans to pursue a level in engineering, is now constructing on his experiences to launch BirdsEye, a volunteer group that recruits drone pilots and pairs them with conservation organizations. He hopes his “aerial activism” is one thing that catches on.

“I think this is like the most impactful thing I’ve been able to do,” Theo mentioned. “Just finding ways to combine my passion for aviation and photography with conservation has been cool. It’s fun to go to these farms, catch some visuals while also knowing that I’m doing something positive.”

Nominate a Junior Geek

GeekWire will characteristic a brand new Junior Geek of the Month in profiles meant to seize how they need to make a constructive affect on the world by their geeky pursuits. In addition, they’ll obtain particular recognition from our venture associate, Northern Trust.

Do an distinctive Junior Geek between the ages of 12 to twenty who’s going to vary the world? Submit a nomination.

Nominees should be residents of the Pacific Northwest, and parental info should be included for these nominees beneath the age of 18. Jr. Geeks could nominate themselves however please make sure to embody your father or mother or guardian’s contact info.

Read about our earlier Junior Geek of the Month winners.