Stories from the Field

Student of the Year Marisa Granados, One Year Later

Combined Shape Copy Created with Sketch.
Marisa Granados, student of the year

Marisa Granados, our 2018 NatureBridge Student of the Year, is not your average 19-year-old college sophomore. An honors student studying ecosystem science and sustainability with a minor in applied environmental policy analysis at Colorado State University, she recently entered her second year of school as the residential assistant of her dorm. In between studying—and squeezing in some snowboarding at the local mountain—Marisa circulates a weekly environmental blog with an impressive readership, pours time into her fellowship with Our Climate Voices and logs flying hours as she works toward getting her pilot’s license. 

And though she’s flown over both the mountains and vast desert of New Mexico with a pilot’s bird-eye view and snowboarded in the northern mountains of Colorado, Marisa says her favorite outdoor space is in Olympic National Park—sitting on the beach by Barnes Point looking out at Lake Crescent. She even has a bracelet with the coordinates of Barnes Point that she’s seldom seen without.

NatureBridge is an incredible organization and I have it to thank for where I am able to be today as not only a climate activist, but as a person.
Marisa Granados

Growing up in New Mexico near the foothills, Marisa has had a love for and connection to the outdoors for as long as she can remember. It's what led her to NatureBridge in the first place. But it was that NatureBridge environmental science program experience in Olympic National Park that marked a pivotal moment. It sparked something within Marisa. Inspired by the experience, she participated in a NatureBridge Summer Backpacking program in 2017 before the start of her senior year at Bosque School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She especially thanks her educator Dee for this transformative journey.

With the support of the U.S. Forest Service, Marisa developed a handbook and curriculum for middle school students so that they may learn and apply environmental stewardship in small, meaningful ways. In addition to the stewardship program, Marisa also worked to establish a mentor program with eighth grade students at her school back home. 

Marisa always wanted to do something that would make an environmental impact, but her NatureBridge experience illustrated all that was possible—and now the sky is the limit. It led her to pursue the degree she is working toward now at Colorado State, with which she plans to do big things.

“I’ve always had that connection to nature but when I went to NatureBridge and began to learn about the things that I could do and the things that needed to be done, it was a full 180-degree turn from wanting to pursue a career in architecture,” Marisa explained.

Marisa wants to ensure that young people one hundred years from now have the same opportunities in the outdoors that she has had—she wants to save the planet. Passionate about both the social and hard sciences, she selected her course of study for the freedom it gave her. Though it includes chemistry, calculus, physics and biology, Marisa also has the option to study the social sciences. Similarly at NatureBridge, our programs foster whole child development—in addition to science lessons, students are also learning local history and culture, building relationship skills and increasing social awareness.

Marisa is also part of the honors program and has been enjoying the honors seminars offered at her school. 

I would like to think that I would have ended up doing this kind of environmental work no matter what, but NatureBridge opened my eyes and allowed me to see how I can have an impact.
Marisa Granados

In 2018, Marisa founded Earth Guardians Albuquerque, a chapter of an international youth environmental activism organization. That same year, she also founded The Planet Justice Project, a climate activism and action based blog that she dedicates her time to updating regularly. And last January, Marisa became NOLS Wilderness Medicine certified.

Interested in what else Marisa has already accomplished? Check out her recent contribution to Our Climate Voices—the story of Latinx mom Patricia Nelson of Greely, Colorado, who is fighting against environmental racism and the oil and gas industry for the health of her son.

And the advice Marisa would give to future NatureBridge students of the year?

“Use the momentum that you have and your passion to do good because people want to support you,” she said. “People really believe in you and they're there to make your dreams come true.”

Check out these other