The Toyota USA Foundation announced a $4 million grant over the next two years to support the expansion of the Nature Conservancy’s signature youth program, Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF). LEAF is a comprehensive, environmental leadership program for teenagers and educators from green schools across the country. The Toyota USA Foundation has supported LEAF since 2010.
The investment will build upon LEAF’s 18 years of success by supporting continued growth in 11 cities and expanding job opportunities for urban youth on nature preserves in 27 states.
"The LEAF program had a profound impact on me and my view of the world, and it led me to a career creating a greener, more sustainable world,” said Josh Carrera, 22, a LEAF alumnus who recently graduated from the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. “Everything that I'm doing now, started with LEAF.” Josh is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Conservation Leadership at Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources.
“The Toyota USA Foundation is proud to continue its support of LEAF to advance our shared mission of empowering the next generation of conservation leaders and diversifying the environmental movement,” said Patricia Salas Pineda, Toyota Motor North America, Group Vice President, National Philanthropy and the Toyota USA Foundation. “By combining real-world job opportunities with classroom experiences, LEAF introduces students to the importance of protecting our planet and inspires them to pursue careers in conservation.”
LEAF’s mission is to engage urban youth in conservation activities now so that they will become future stewards for our planet. The program provides paid, residential career internships for students on nature preserves around the country and enriches their experiences in the classroom by providing professional development opportunities to educators from partner high schools. According to a recent alumni survey of LEAF participants, 34 percent have gone on to major in life science fields in college and 21 percent of those majored in environmental studies. Approximately 33 percent of LEAF alumni have secured budding careers in related fields, and over half go on to volunteer for environmental causes in their communities.
“We are truly grateful for the Toyota USA Foundation’s generosity in supporting LEAF, as its grant will play a huge role in The Nature Conservancy achieving the long term goals of expanding the program to reach even more students and educators,” said Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “The future of our planet is in the hands of our young leaders and we look forward to continuing our work with the Toyota USA Foundation in order to empower youth around the country and help nurture a passion for nature.”
Learn more about the students that LEAF serves, the Toyota USA Foundation and about this unique partnership model at www.nature.org/LEAF.
About the Toyota USA Foundation
The Toyota USA Foundation is a $100 million charitable endowment created to support education programs serving kindergarten through 12th grade students and their teachers in the United States, with an emphasis on mathematics, science and environmental science. For additional information about the Toyota USA Foundation, visit www.toyota.com/foundation.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.