High school students participating in LEAF are divided into groups of three and paired with mentors for a four-week field season in July. They leave their cities to live, work, and play on nature preserves.
Participants assist with land management, public outreach and scientific research and enjoy activities including camping and kayaking. Students learn about careers in conservation, complete 35-hour paid work weeks, and visit local colleges. Many of these urban teens have never spent extended time in nature or explored colleges outside of the city. For most, the program also marks their first paid job experience. The students develop critical life and workplace skills while living away from friends and family. They participate in demanding field work, manage finances and budgets, and do their own cooking and cleaning.
When the students return to the city, they share what they have learned with their friends, families, and school communities. The Conservancy offers alumni meetings, classroom presentations and additional college internships to the students.