Environmentalist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Maritza Morales Casanova is revolutionizing environmental education in her native Mexico, teaching children the conservation and leadership skills they need to be agents of change.
Maritza Morales Casanova
Environmentalist Maritza Morales Casanova has spent the last two decades working to revolutionize environmental education and awareness in Mexico-and she's only 29. At age ten, she founded the environmental organization HUNAB (Humanity United to Nature in Harmony for Beauty, Welfare, and Goodness) when she saw neighborhood children harming animals and vegetation. The organization has grown to become the force behind a major educational park focused not only on empowering children with conservation knowledge but also with leadership skills to become strong activists and agents of change. Today, Ceiba Pentandra Park provides a free, interactive learning experience for children and teachers on topics ranging from climate change and wetland conservation to wildlife protection and pollution. When completed, it will accommodate 64,000 children each year. The park's most unusual aspect is its teachers: other children. "I know children have great capacity to be leaders because I lived that experience," she observes. Casanova is a 2012 Rolex Young Laureate for the Environment.