Stories from the Field

2023 Student of the Year: Satvika Iyer

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Student of the Year 2023 Satvika Iyer

At NatureBridge, we celebrate the stewards of today and foster the development of the stewards of tomorrow, working to inspire environmental stewardship in all our participants. Our goal is to motivate our students to be changemakers in their communities and for our planet.

Each year, NatureBridge honors a student who has demonstrated leadership, growth and a commitment to protecting our natural world as a result of their participation in a NatureBridge program. This year’s honoree will be recognized and will speak at An Evening with NatureBridge on Thursday, May 11 at our Golden Gate campus.

We are thrilled to announce our 2023 Student of the Year: high school junior Satvika Iyer.

Satvika participated in a NatureBridge program with her elementary school at our Golden Gate campus in 2018 and previously received a Student of the Year Honorable Mention in 2019. The environmental advocacy and stewardship efforts Satvika has engaged in since then are truly impressive, and she traces their catalyst back to her time as a student at NatureBridge.

Five years ago, I left the Golden Gate experience at NatureBridge with an unstoppable motivation for action and a hunger to understand everything I could about the wide world around me.
Satvika Iyer, 2023 Student of the Year

That “unstoppable motivation for action” has propelled Satvika to conducting research, innovating solutions and rallying her community toward positive change. Some of her projects and achievements from the past five years include:

  • Testing natural retardants and training a neural network to quickly detect forest fires following her experience watching news reports on California’s Camp Fire in 2018
  • Leading her school’s Environmental Society in efforts to promote and implement recycling, rainwater harvesting and climate education programs
  • Analyzing data as a citizen scientist, setting up an Air Quality Index for her city and documenting the impact of Oakland algal blooms on
  • Working with school district nutrition advisors to create a plant-based school meal menu and education campaign that were both climate-friendly and culturally relevant
  • Taking on fellowships at Friends of the Earth and the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition and advocating at the USDA, the US House of Representatives and the White House’s Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health for a just and sustainable food system

Satvika describes her inspiration to tackle climate change issues and fight for systemic changes in her community as directly derived from her experiences at NatureBridge. “I felt more connected than I ever had before,” Satvika writes of her time as a student at Golden Gate. “Experiencing firsthand the essential truths of destruction and stewardship, I saw myself as a person able to make a difference for the very first time.”

I have learned that we see nature as disposable—our resource to conquer. Well, this earth belongs to all of us [and] we have a responsibility to serve and protect it. Thank you, NatureBridge and my field guide Kim, for opening my eyes to a whole new world.
Satvika Iyer, 2023 Student of the Year

Satvika, you are truly one of today’s most passionate and dedicated environmental stewards, and we are so proud to have you represent NatureBridge as our 2023 Student of the Year!

Editor’s note: Don’t miss your opportunity to meet Satvika in person and hear her describe her NatureBridge experience at “An Evening Outside with NatureBridge” on May 11 at our Golden Gate campus. Get your tickets to this unforgettable event today!

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