Green Gator of the Month: Anna Mavrodieva

February 2023

Written by Sustainable UF intern Kendall Brockelman

Each month, the Office of Sustainability will feature members of the University of Florida community that are making a sustainable impact on a daily basis. Keep reading to meet our featured student for February!

Say Hello to Anna Mavrodieva

Our February “Green Gator of the Month” is Anna Mavrodieva!

Anna is a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science with a minor in UFTeach Science. Her major and minor are the perfect mix for supporting her aspiration to spread informal STEM education as an environmental leader.

UF Student Anna Mavrodieva holding a snake.

A Passion for Wild Florida

Reflecting back on her green journey, Anna credits a life-changing summer program for her environmental and activism passions. At age 16, she was taking AP Environmental Science when Young Leaders for Wild Florida (YLWF) was promoted to her class. 

Anna decided to take a leap of faith and join the program during its first year. From that summer on, she fell in love with the idea of pursuing a career in teaching others about the natural world! 

YLWF is a program for 16-19-year-olds who want to experience Florida’s natural systems, learn about environmental careers, and engage with environmental leaders. When Anna was a program participant, she appreciated how YLWF highlighted the different ways you can be an environmentalist besides being a scientist. “You can be a teacher, an artist, or a communicator. Anything can be tied back to protecting our planet,” Anna explained.

Becoming An Environmental Leader

Anna’s environmental journey recently came full circle when she assumed the position of YLWF’s Co-Director alongside another former YLWF camper and fellow Gator, Elizabeth “Rocket” Walker. The duo keeps the camp running and plans exciting summers for groups of teenagers like their past selves. Anna was overjoyed to run the program that got her into environmentalism and said “it felt like I was giving back”. 

Last summer, the group took a trip to the Repurpose Project to volunteer and learn more about how materials can be re-utilized in our lives and to highlight opportunities for students to choose sustainable actions in their daily lives. Anna tries to empower the campers to find what works for them and show them how to implement sustainability in their own fun ways. 

UF student and environmental leader Anna while kayaking.

So, what’s Anna’s favorite part of directing YLWF? 

That’s a tough question for her – she says every part is the best. If she had to choose one aspect, kayaking would be a stand-out part of every summer. Anna has had the chance to be guided on paddle tours by naturalist Lars Anderson and she loves learning about the natural ecosystems from him. 

Leading By Example 

Anna has had other valuable green experiences as well. Through her minor, she took an Informal STEM Education course and taught over 100 young students through the Florida Museum of Natural History

Students jumping on a rock outdoors in the environment.

Looking into the future, Anna says she is interested in making environmentalism more accessible to the public, inspiring young kids, and working on informal education, possibly with a museum or park system. After graduation, she can see herself traveling the country to do hands-on conservation work. 

In her daily life, Anna incorporates sustainability and her love for the environment in several ways. She participates in campus communities such as UF GREBE, Climate Action Gators, and the Environmental Science Alliance. 

She champions sustainability practices as an environmental leader while also recognizing that it can be hard to find accessible approaches. What works for her is shopping locally for products like bar shampoo, making her own loose-leaf tea at home, utilizing public transportation, packing her lunch, and more. She’s also into sustainable fashion and prioritizes thrifting, regifting, and buying less. Anna tries to act as a guest on the planet and reminds us that “it’s more about your mindset” when trying to live sustainably.

Motivated by Connection

With everything that Anna does, she finds herself motivated by the idea of connecting with other people and the environment.

“I know that my schoolwork and everything I do is going to help me achieve my goal of reaching as many people as possible and helping them help the planet. That’s my driving force.”

Submit your recommendation for a student, faculty, or staff member to be featured in a future Green Gator of the Month article

Published: February 17th, 2023

Category: Green Gator of the Month