In summer 2008, forty students and mentors participated in the LEAF 2008 field season, which marked the largest group in the program's fourteen-year history. Interns stayed at an array of Nature Conservancy preserves across the Northeast, including Mashomack, the Adirondacks, Central & Western New York, Martha's Vineyard, Southern Lake Champlain Valley, the Delaware Bayshores, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and the Pocono Mountains, spanning seven states.
This year also marked enhanced mentor training in partnership with the National Outdoor Leadership School and ongoing alumni activities including college internships and job placements. Three of our alumni from 2006 returned for additional internships in the Delaware Bayshores in New Jersey, and one alumni from our 2005 program was hired as a stewardship assistant in Martha’s Vineyard. Another 2005 alumni was one of sixteen college students accepted into the highly competitive science internship program at the Conservancy, launched in 2007 for exceptional students of diverse backgrounds.
We congratulate our alumni on their continued efforts in conservation as they grow into young men and women!
“After learning about watersheds, I’m going to think more about what I take for granted in the city, like clean drinking water. Not enough people take the time to learn about these things, but just think what wonderful things we could accomplish if we all just tried a little harder to protect this world.
Having an actual, working, paying job has made me realize that I can make it in this world, but it also isn’t always going to be a box of chocolates. Now, I feel more confident in myself. The things I thought were limitations I now see as new goals to set for myself. This journey is slowly but surely helping me to mold myself into adulthood. I thought that I would miss my family a whole lot more than I did. I really think that certain beliefs and ways of living that I had before, such as co-dependency, are really starting to melt away. I will be graduating soon, and this trip, more than any other life experience I have had, has really helped to prepare me for the world."
“I realized that our environment does more for us than we do for it. The environment provides us with land, clean air to breathe, shelter, beauty and much more. I am truly glad that I did this program because it opened my eyes to things I was blind to in the past.
In addition to learning about the importance of taking care of our environment, I discovered many things about myself. I found out ways to improve myself, both on and off the work site. During this trip I learned how to saw, set up a tent, make a fire, canoe, fish, hook a worm, unhook a fish, do laundry, cook and live on a budget. I also found out what I want to be and what type of school I want to go to. This program made me realize that I should not freak out about the future, but instead plan what I can do to help prepare for the future and not fear succeeding.”
“The Nature Conservancy helped me to see so many new places. As a teenager who lives in the city, there is not as much nature to see, but this summer I saw so much.
The first day we arrived in the Delaware Bayshores, I was left in awe. It was like someone painted a beautiful mural. I kept taking pictures of it because I didn’t want to forget that place. Some days, I used to sit down on the grass and just look at it. During the night, the moonlight would reflect on the water and it would look mystical. On the last week of our stay, we had to put barricades on the Manumuskin River Preserve to prevent motor vehicles from going there. That was amazing. The water in the river was so blue that when seagulls flew over it, their wings turned blue from the reflection on the water. That place was paradise to me.”
“Living at Martha’s Vineyard for four weeks required some adjustment. For one thing, at the Hoft Farm where I stayed, there were no flushable toilets. The toilets were compostable which I now find pretty cool. Since the toilets do not run on water, water is saved, energy is conserved and it eases the strain on the environment. In addition, I learned to love showering in the outdoor showers; it is the best showering experience one can ever have.
Most of all, I liked knowing I was a part of conserving Martha’s Vineyard by working in the native plant nursery. In spite of how hard it was, weeding the nursery became strangely relaxing and meditative. It provided time for me to release myself from the jumbled thoughts of my mind. Weeding soon became second nature and required little effort. I breathed in the fresh air ― free from the strangling pollution of the city and listened to the calming breeze of the wind as it rustled the plants. Besides the peacefulness of the nursery, I benefited from the opportunity to learn about the wonders of so many different kinds of plants."
If you are interested in sponsoring a student or want more information on the Internship Program, please contact Brigitte Griswold at or email firstname.lastname@example.org.July 26, 2011