Champion For Conservation

Interview With Margaux Isaksen

As a pentathlete, she competes in five sports – fencing, swimming, show jumping, shooting and running. The pentathlon is a long-standing Olympic sport patterned on events representing the skills needed by Greek soldiers fighting behind enemy lines.

The diversity of skills that made for a great Greek warrior also make Isaksen a valuable asset for Team Conservation. As a young activist for The Nature Conservancy, she’s fighting to conserve the natural world and inspire the next generation of conservationists.

Isaksen resides at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and trains outdoors as much as possible. We asked her to share why protecting the environment is so important to her.

nature.org:

Tell us about yourself.

Margaux Isaksen:

I was born and raised on a farm outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas. My sister, Isabella, and I would spend our free time exploring the great outdoors, riding horses and swimming. I was 16 when I moved to Colorado to train for the pentathlon. I have had the honor of representing the United States at three Olympic Games. What an amazing ride it has been so far! I am thankful every day for the opportunities the sport has given me, and the life changing experiences I have had.

nature.org:

How did you become so passionate about conservation?

Margaux Isaksen:

Even as a young child I felt a deep connection to the Earth and a responsibility to protect it. Conservation was a way of life in our house. We were taught to understand how our consumption habits affected the world. We understood that the smallest efforts really could make a difference. 

I then spent years traveling around the globe, for training and competitions, witnessing first-hand the damage we were inflicting on our ecosystems and I wanted to do something to help. I feel a responsibility to do my part, no matter how big or small, to make a positive impact on the natural world. There really is no planet B.

nature.org:

Does your experience as an Olympic athlete change the way you view the world?

Margaux Isaksen:

Nature has always provided me with a place to recharge and reconnect with something bigger than myself. The time I spend outdoors contributes immensely to my physical, mental and emotional health. I spend the majority of my time training outside and a healthy environment plays a crucial role in my development as an athlete.

Margaux Isaksen joins TNC's Colorado staff and supporters at the Science March in Denver. © The Nature Conservancy (CC BY 2.0)
Margaux Isaksen joins TNC staff and other supporters at the Science March in Denver © The Nature Conservancy

nature.org:

How did you become involved with supporting The Nature Conservancy?

Margaux Isaksen:

I have been following conservation organizations throughout my career and have been inspired by the work The Nature Conservancy has been doing in Colorado, across the country and internationally. The Conservancy has an amazing team full of passionate conservationists and I want to lend a hand to efforts wherever I can to help protect our lands, waters and forests.

nature.org:

What suggestions do you have for people who care about the environment?

Margaux Isaksen:

I firmly believe that the most important conservation tool is access to the natural world. So many people like to recreate in the outdoors. As the number of outdoor recreation enthusiasts continues to grow, so does the number of potential conservationists that want to see our planet protected. Conservation should be a collaborative, daily effort by every citizen of the world; we can ALL be conservationists.

I really liked TNC’s CEO Mark Tercek’s message on Climate Change - “Don’t panic, DO act.” It is important to remember that nothing is too small to make a difference; whether it’s recycling, bringing your reusable bag to the grocery store, or contacting lawmakers when you see an assault on our lands. Think globally, act locally.


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