Victor Medina

City-born, nature-inspired. Read, and hear, Victor’s story . . .

He grew up on 188th Street in Manhattan, just three subway stops from Inwood Hill Park, but Victor Medina didn’t step foot in this unique urban oasis until he was a student at the High School for Environmental Studies. Then, as a participant in the Training Student Organizers program of the Council for the Environment of NYC (now GROW NYC), he helped plant trees and remove invasive plants and shrubs at Inwood Park. It was a formative sensory experience — physical labor, the smell of dirt, the wonder of water and green living things, and Victor wanted more.


He joined the school’s recycling club, got involved in beach cleanups, volunteered with the League of Conservation Voters, and spent a summer as an intern with the Nature Conservancy’s LEAF program (Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future). Victor went to SUNY Albany and earned a degree in geography and urban studies. He went hiking and climbing in Peru, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and continues to seek adventure in awesome places.


For five years Victor was a Ranger with the National Park Service at Saratoga (NY) and Lowell (MA) National Historic Parks. At Lowell, he worked with adolescents, many of them recent immigrants and refugees, in a summer program to maintain public parklands. In 2017, he joined the staff at Groundwork Hudson Valley leading young people in the Lower Hudson Valley on environmental and sustainability projects to grow the next generation of environmental leaders.


He has, in a sense, come full circle: At 26, Victor Medina, the kid whose outlook was transformed by planting a tree, is opening young hearts and minds to the natural world he loves. “I don’t proscribe answers,” he says, “I just try to create a space for people to come to their own answers about what these places mean to them, and what our collective responsibility is to protect them, and to develop the mindset that we don’t own the environment, we are simply borrowing it from future generations.”


Hear Victor talk about his journey here.

CAREER ZONE profiles one of the many former Watershed and New York City students who credit their Watershed Education lessons and experiences for helping to propel them into environmental or teaching careers. Can you recommend a former student to be profiled in “CAREER ZONE? Contact Diane Galusha