"It just takes someone close to you to venture out, to make you want to venture out."
Victor Medina is a young mountaineer from Washington Heights who has reversed the direction of cascading generational wisdom by influencing his older generation parents to experience the thrills of nature. Rather than having the appreciation for nature handed down to him by his parents, Victor carried his knowledge upward.
"I wanted to climb Pico Duarte, and my father suggested we do it as a family," he says. "Next thing we know, we had six people climbing the Caribbean’s highest mountain. The most impressive part was the number of family members who didn’t come, who have already booked their spot for next year.”
Victor’s dedication to the environmental movement developed during his time at the High School for Environmental Studies. He was exposed to myriad internships early on in his high school career. He helped clean up the Maurice River along the Delaware Bay in a kayak, learned how to clear and maintain hiking trails, and planted trees along the Poultney River in rural Vermont. But his interest reached a peak when he became an intern with the Conservancy's LEAF program.
“LEAF gave me the confidence to venture out further without someone holding my hand, and that’s something in my life that’s been irreplaceable. Nothing could compare to taking that first step. Climbing mountains became a way for me to step outside my comfort zone again.”
Victor’s hike up Pico Duarte led him to discover a different relationship with his father and inspired him to transform his life goals. He describes the hike with his father as an experience that bonded them in a way they had not known was possible prior to the trip. In preparation to scale mountains, Victor lost the 60 pounds that made him overweight and maintained a healthy lifestyle. Victor plans to earn a Masters of Professional Studies in Natural Resource Management with a focus on Human Impact, continue his work for the National Park Service/Department of the Interior, complete a successful two-year tour with the Peace Corps and ultimately work for an international conservation organization.
“When you are truly passionate about something, it rubs off on other people, and it sparks their curiosity. It just takes someone close to you to venture out, to make you want to venture out. And then all you have to do is extend your hand, and they’ll come to you.”