With every new landscape, Marieka Wieringa immerses herself in her love for the environment


Matt Wieringa

Freshman Marieka Wieringa enjoying the scenery of Arashi Beach, Aruba

For freshman Marieka Wieringa, nothing can compare to the Colorado River as it carves its way through the depths of the majestic Grand Canyon. 

“I’ve been to a lot of National Parks in the west of the United States,” Marieka said. “There’s a whole bunch of different places we’ve been. My favorite has been the Grand Canyon because it was so immense to think about how nature’s power was able to do that. I have loved going pretty much everywhere over [in the west].”

The vast expanse of the Grand Canyon provides a breathtaking and eye-opening experience—inspiring Marieka to continue venturing out into the unknown.

There are so many awesome places in the world—even in just the United States or even just in Michigan—that could really open your eyes.”

— Marieka Wieringa

Over the summer, family trips to explore natural formations have become Marieka’s favorite tradition. She has been awe-struck by the sheer beauty of the world around her with every National Park.

“The first place [I went] was Grand Teton,” Marieka recalled. “It’s these mountain ranges that are all in the same area, and it was probably the first grand spectacle I’ve seen. [I thought], ‘Wow, these mountains are huge, and they’re amazing.’ It stuck with me for a while.”

From the summits of the Smokey Mountains to precipitous peaks of Glacier National Park, each monumental landscape immerses Marieka in her love for nature and the outdoors. Even smaller sights, such as the resplendent reefs of Hawaii, can evoke the same passion for the environment. 

“One of [my favorite memories includes] a reef preserve in Hawaii,” Marieka said. “I remember swimming around this gorgeous coral reef with fish all around me and seeing my family so happy to see everything that’s gorgeous around there. It made me think about how if all this was gone, then it would be like so much happiness and beauty was taken away from the world.”

After being exposed to a wide variety of landmarks, Marieka has learned the importance of protecting every ecosystem. She makes a daily effort to limit her carbon footprint while thinking back to her outdoor adventures.

For environmentalists like Marieka, imagining a world consumed with pollution is unbearable. Without taking action, she knows that one day, people won’t be able to experience the same natural beauty that she has come to love. 

“It’s definitely a must-do to protect our environment,” Marieka said. “From all my travels, to be able to protect and create more memories like that, I need to be able to do my own part and encourage others to help in saving the Earth.”

With so many memories in the outdoors, Marieka takes in all the environmental facts and exciting experiences—leaving behind only footprints.

At some point, Marieka hopes that everyone has the chance to confront the same wonders; in fact, some of the most picturesque landscapes are nearby. 

“I feel like there are so many awesome places in the world—even in just the United States or even just in Michigan—that could really open your eyes,” Marieka said. “You don’t have to travel really far distances.”

In hopes of preserving the oceans, trees, and mountains, she always encourages others to step outside and immerse themselves in nature, for an entire outlook of the world can be changed by venturing out just a little further. 

“I think you could just go to the beach one day in Lake Michigan,” Marieka said, “and see a sunset and think ‘This is gorgeous, and if we don’t do something, then I could never see a sunset like this again because of pollution.’ Something like that can just be really eye-opening and change how you see everything.”