Stories from the Field

2019 Student of the Year Honorable Mention: Satvika Iyer

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Nominated by educator Kim Orbik, Satvika Iyer of Merryhill Elementary School in San Jose, California, joined her sixth grade class at the NatureBridge Golden Gate National Recreation Area campus in April 2018. She is one of our three honorable mentions for 2019 Student of the Year.

Kim works with hundreds of amazing students throughout the year, but she recalls Satvika’s spirit for learning as having truly stood out. Inquisitive and engaged, Satvika demonstrated emotional maturity and strong prior knowledge that allowed her to help her classmates without being overpowering, Kim explained. 

“Her eager and honest interest in all projects led to her truly understanding concepts rather than just ‘knowing information’,” Kim said. “Her immediate interest and desire to understand the world around her, smart communication skills and open preparation for the NatureBridge experience made Satvika stand out as exceptional to me.”

In her essay, Satvika wrote of the profound impact that NatureBridge had on her and her lifestyle choices, calling it “one of [the] top creative influences in my writing and art.”

Here at NatureBridge, I became keenly aware of the life around us and what we could do to preserve the wildlife we all love.
Satvika Iyer

“I visited the Golden Gate campus and it was hard to believe that the rolling green hills, lush mountains, churning waves and the colorful wildflowers that peppered the hiking trails were so close to a world renowned city, notorious also for its increasing pollution and dense population," Satvika wrote in her essay submission. "The site was so pristine, it was like it came out of a verdant dream. The drastic differences in the two places with such close proximity made me realize that it was how we treat the land around us that really shapes it.”

Learning about the “great garbage patches” harming our oceans had an especially big impact on Satvika. Nearing the end of their hike, the students sorted through the trash they had both produced and collected along the way. As Satvika explained, this immediately had her wondering how she and her classmates could cut down on waste in their own lives back home. 

During her time at NatureBridge she recalled discussing zero waste practices in the dining hall with other school groups, eating lunch that required little nonrenewable packaging and taking part in preparing those lunches with her peers each day. These were among the practices she brought home with her.

Nature is powerful yet fragile when its natural balance is upset and needs young stewards like me, for us to maintain balance with the carbon demands that we place on it today. Thank you NatureBridge and my field guide Kim, for opening my eyes to a whole new world.
Satvika Iyer

“Now, almost a year after visiting NatureBridge, I am still conscious about what waste I am putting out into the world,” she said. “My family and I now try to buy less packaged goods, use more reusable bags and have switched to a mostly vegan lifestyle.”

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