By Libby Smith

DENVER (CBS4) – Each month during the school year, CBS4, along with PDC Energy, highlights a high school student who stands out in science, technology, engineering or math, STEM. The Future Leaders award comes with $1,000, and a profile on CBS4 News, which show some of the amazing work that young people are doing to impact the world around them.

(credit Spencer Tanenholtz)

The January winner is Spencer Tanenholtz, a senior at the Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design, DSISD. At this point in his high school career, Tanenholtz is taking most of his classes at the Community College of Denver.

READ MORE: Golden Cancer Patient Calling On State To Include More Patients In Next Vaccine Phase

Not only will I be able to enter into university with some college credits, but I’ll actually be graduating this year with an associate degree, at the same time as I’m graduating from high school,” Tanenholtz explained.

Tanenholtz is planning to go to Oregon State University where he’ll study marine science.

“I’m planning to major in ecological engineering, which is rather a new field that applies engineering to wildlife, and basically just helping the environment,” Tanenholtz said.

(credit Spencer Tanenholtz)

His love for marine life started when he was nine, and his family took a trip to the Galapagos Islands. It sparked a passion in him.

“I’ve always been really, really, interested in the ocean, in marine life, since I was really, really young,” Tanenholtz said.

READ MORE: 'They Left Her For Dead': 14 Year Old & 18 Year Old Charged With Woman's Murder On Colfax

He got certified in scuba diving so that he could freely explore under water, even coming eye-to-eye with octopi. He also started working with Boulder-based Ocean First Institute.

“So I’ve gotten to go to Florida a couple of times to learn about the ecosystem there,” he told CBS4. “I got to help them measure and tag a tiger shark that we caught, and I also got to measure and tag and do a biopsy on some smaller species,”

(credit Spencer Tanenholtz)

“See most people would be going the opposite direction of where the sharks are, and you’re going right to them,” said CBS4 Meteorologist Lauren Whitney.

“It was just amazing, to me, sharks are just incredible creatures,” Tanenholtz replied.

In addition to his marine science work, Tanenholtz has an eye to the sky. He volunteers at the Space Odyssey Exhibit at the Museum of Nature and Science.

“I love volunteering there mostly just because it’s a chance for me to pass on both the knowledge about the subjects I’m teaching, which at the museum is space and earth science, but also I get to pass on my love for learning.”

MORE NEWS: Weld County Joins 'Meat In' Day Supporters Following Polis' Controversial Announcement

LINK: Nominate a Future Leaders Candidate

Libby Smith