Conservancy’s Youth Program Recognized by Disney

Put on your mouse ears! The Conservancy received a $100,000 grant at the Disney Kids and Nature Celebration.

Sam Champion (ABC Weatherman) and the Disney Kids and Nature Champions, which included the NGO leaders and youth ambassadors from The Nature Conservancy, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, Children & Nature Network, Youth Service America and National Wildlife Federation.      © Disney

(click photo to enlarge)

The Nature Conservancy’s longstanding efforts to connect youth with nature recently received a tip of the hat from the most iconic name in children’s entertainment.

The Conservancy was awarded a $100,000 grant from Disney, as part of the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

The award acknowledges the Conservancy's LEAF program, which connects urban high school students with summer internships at Conservancy preserves.

LEAF stands for Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future. For more than 17 years, support from partners and donors like you have provided LEAF participants with opportunities to work alongside Conservancy scientists.

Lead Conservancy Scientist Sanjayan was accompanied by a group of four LEAF alums this week when he accepted the award at the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Awards Ceremony, held in Orlando.

“LEAF is one of the most important components of our conservation work at The Nature Conservancy,” Sanjayan said. “It’s imperative that we empower youth to protect the planet and stand up for the environment.”

The LEAF alumni also participated in a Youth Summit at Disney’s celebration. They were selected to attend because of their leadership in conservation.

They included: 

Tiana Cruz 

During her LEAF internship, Tiana led efforts to restore native salmon populations in Puget Sound, Washington. She led a video education project to help her peers back in New York understand the importance of protecting salmon. You can view it on YouTube. 

Ishmael Akahoho 

Ishmael is originally from Ghana but grew up in Brooklyn. Following his participation in LEAF, where he worked to educate communities about protecting the Saco River in Maine, he participated in the highly competitive National Hispanic Environmental Council's Youth Leadership Program. 

Samantha Hoffman 

While participating in the LEAF Program in 2011, Samantha led efforts to create a rainwater garden at Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge in New Jersey. She also created a video to help her peers back in New York understand the importance of protecting fresh water.

Tiffany Doley 

During her 2010 LEAF internship, Tiffany led shellfish restoration and invasive species management projects in New Hampshire. Last year she was accepted on full scholarship to participate in a highly competitive expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School in Alaska. 


The long-term goal of LEAF is to support more than 30 environmental high schools across the country, ultimately serving over 20,000 students. Learn more.

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