Rachel Marco embraces the environment through an adventurous lifestyle


From a young age, sophomore Rachel Marco has been fascinated with nature and all that it has to offer. Year after year, Rachel finds herself becoming more deeply involved with the environment, as the lessons the outdoors has taught her have built her character and are beginning to determine her future.

In the fifth grade, Rachel was selected to attend Goodwillie Environmental School. For the two years she spent at the school, Rachel learned about so much more than just simply the environment. 

“I learned that you don’t have to do everything a traditional way,” Rachel said. “There, obviously, the learning is very different from a traditional school because it’s focused around nature, and I just learned that there are so many opportunities that you can have in life.”

Since her time at the fifth and sixth grade environmental building has ended, many new opportunities have certainly appeared in Rachel’s life. 

In the summer of 2019, Rachel backpacked through the mountains of Idaho with the National Outdoor Leadership School. For 16 days, Rachel and 12 other students lived solely off the land for just over two weeks; throughout the entire trip, the only contact they had was with each other.            

“I just liked meeting all the new people,” Rachel said. “It’s kind of crazy how close you get to those people when you are not around technology or distractions like that, and you are actually forced to talk to each other all the time.”

Throughout her time in the backcountry of Idaho, Rachel’s determination and discipline was tested as she and the other students faced many challenges, both physically and mentally. 

“We had to climb down the mountain, but it was during a thunderstorm, which wasn’t good because climbing with rocks and backpacks is really difficult to do when the rock is wet,” Rachel said. “On the way down, a kid broke his ankle, so we had to evacuate him. That was really challenging and everybody was a little scared because nobody knew what was going to happen.”

Not only has Rachel spent a summer adventuring in the wilderness of Idaho, but she has also taken trips with her family members to Zion in Utah, and she has white water kayaked over 200 miles through roaring rapids. 

Throughout all of her adventures within the outdoor environment, Rachel has also held a love for running from a young age. 

“I like to run because when I am backpacking, you are pushed to your limit, and you can’t stop because if you stop you literally could die on a mountain, but with running it is kind of the same thing,” Rachel said. “You have to discipline yourself with the mentality that you can’t stop, and I think that is a really cool thing that more people need to do or focus on in order to really push themselves through tough times.”

The amount of time Rachel has spent in admiration of nature has allowed her to better understand what she hopes her future will look like. 

“If I could, I would probably live somewhere out west in the mountains when I am older just because you still have people around you, so you have that sense,” Rachel said. “But you can also just get away and escape if you want to.”

As Rachel hopes to go into sustainability or environmental leadership in the far future, an opportunity to learn more about these fields has presented itself in Rachel’s life. 

Currently, Rachel is applying to a boarding school in Idaho known as the Alzar school. At this prestigious academy, 28 chosen students focus on environmental science for 16 weeks, and they even get to travel to its 300-acre campus in Chile to backpack and white water kayak near the Patagonia region. At Alzar, students focus on topics including cultural exchange, a subject Rachel has a great amount of interest in. 

“It is a big decision to leave for that long, but I think I would get a lot out of it because the teachers reflect so much of what I want to be when I am older,” Rachel said. “Right now I am just applying to see if I get in to see if it is even an option for me.”

All of the time Rachel has spent in the outdoors and engaging with nature has taught her many lessons about the impact nature can leave on your life. Through her many trips and adventures, Rachel has disciplined herself and is able to look past the challenges in order to find serenity in the outdoors. 

“When you are outdoors, sometimes it really sucks and you just want to go inside,” Rachel said. “Once you get back, you realize how much you learned from it and the connections you can make through nature. It really is just a good break from the busy world around you.”