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Juan Martinez

National Geographic
Emerging Explorer

A proud product of South Central Los Angeles, Juan D. Martinez is the Children and Nature Network’s Director of Leadership Development and the Natural Leaders Network.  He is also a National Geographic Explorer, and a TED Speaker.

At an early age, his passion to empower youth individuals led him to direct the Sierra Club’s first environmental justice youth leadership academy in Los Angeles, and his interesting journey continued from there. Juan represents The North Face as an ambassador for outdoor engagement and his adventures include reaching the Summit of the Grand Teton in 2010 with famed mountain climber Conrad Anker.

From there, Martinez was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and travels across the US speaking and encouraging other young people to explore the outdoors.  In 2014 The National Science Teachers Association’s Multicultural and Equity Committee honored Juan for his work as a Global Explorer. A few years ago, Juan was invited to be a Murie Center Explorer in Residence in Grand Teton National Park, WY.

Following his residence experience, he was elected to the Murie Center’s Board of Directors. During his time at the Murie Center, he met and married Vanessa Torres.  His compelling journey and their wedding was filmed for the documentary feature, “Love in the Tetons,” which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, and was a finalist in the 2015 Banff Film Festival.

Juan is on The Wilderness Society’s Governing Council, elected in 2015; and in 2012, he was elected to the Sierra Club Foundation Board, their youngest member ever. An excellent and convincing speaker, Juan participated in the first TED Youth national conference in New York, and TEDx in Jackson Hole, WY. Crediting his experience of growing up in South Central L.A. with a deep understanding of the need to connect children, families, culture and communities with the natural world, Juan has made a commitment to help empower the next generation of conservation and outdoor recreation leaders.

Juan’s most recent contribution to furthering his mission is joining the Ambassador Program of Yvon Chouinard’s “1% for the Planet,” an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet. Through the C&NN Natural Leaders Network, Juan is working with strategic partners and dedicates his energy on grassroots campaigns to empower, explore, and create positive change.

Juan and his wife, Vanessa, live in Los Angeles, CA. with their King Charles spaniel Bucky.