The Nature Conservancy Receives $100K Grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for The Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) Program

Award Recognizes The Nature Conservancy’s Work to Connect Kids and Nature

New York, NY | April 13, 2012

The Nature Conservancy announces a $100,000 grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) for the Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) Program. Today LEAF received the grant at the Walt Disney World Resort as a part of a three-day Disney Kids and Nature Celebration event to inspire lifelong conservation leadership and to recognize and reward over one hundred kids and five organizations for their work conserving nature. To date, DWCF has invested almost $20 million to support conservation programs in more than half the countries in the world.  

“At Disney, kids and conservation are important to who we are as a company,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president of Corporate Citizenship, Environment & Conservation at Disney. “We have great confidence that the LEAF program will continue this commitment into the future. We know that the experiences they are helping to create for kids in nature are critical to inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders.” 

Nature Conservancy leadership and four exceptional student ambassadors are attending the Disney Kids and Nature Celebration and participating in many events including: the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Awards Ceremony; Disney Friends for Change (FFC) Youth Summit and recognition ceremony for the classroom winners of the Friends for Change in-school program, Disney Planet Challenge; and the world premiere of Disneynature’s Chimpanzee. The four attending youth ambassadors and their inspirational stories are detailed below: 

  1. Tiana Cruz, a high school senior at New York City’s High School for Environmental Studies, is a community environmental ambassador and aspires to be a wildlife biologist. During her internship at Port Royal Sound in Washington she led efforts to restore native salmon and created a video project, Less Fish: Less Food, to showcase their importance.
  2. Ishmael Akahoho is from Brooklyn, NY by way of Ghana. After his LEAF internship he went on to participate in the competitive National Hispanic Environmental Council's Youth Leadership Program in New Mexico and served as a member of the Science National Honor Society where he spearheaded a project which revealed endangered sea horse trading in New York City. A Gates Millennium Scholar currently enrolled at Rochester Institute of Technology, Ishmael plans to design the most eco-friendly car in the market.
  3. Samantha Hoffman, a junior at The High School for Environmental Studies in New York City, has been involved in environmental stewardship since elementary school. As a leader in her community she has served in roles to teach the importance of recycling and worked with her schools prestigious research program to investigate the anthropological effects on biodiversity in urban areas. She plans to study geoscience in college.
  4. Tiffany Doley was one of six US students to be selected to participate in the Toshiba Youth Conference for a Sustainable Future, where she joined her peers from Poland, Japan, and Thailand to develop strategies for a more sustainable society by focusing on common environmental challenges. After her LEAF internship Tiffany pursued Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont and was accepted on a full scholarship to participate in a highly competitive outdoor leadership expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School in Alaska. She aspires to work for the Fresh Air Fund as a leader to guide underserved youth in nature expeditions and inspire the next generation of conservation leaders. 

The Nature Conservancy and The Walt Disney Company have been partners in conservation for more than two decades, beginning with establishment of the Disney Wilderness Preserve in the early 1990s and continuing with marketing, philanthropic and other corporate support benefiting Conservancy programs across the country and around the world. 

LEAF’s mission is to engage urban youth in conservation activities to encourage them to become future stewards for our planet. The program provides paid, residential career internships for students on nature preserves around the country and enriches these experiences in the classroom by providing professional development opportunities to educators from partner high schools. Nationally, only 6% of students receive bachelors’ degrees in the life science fields. According to a recent alumni survey of LEAF participants, 34% have gone on to major in life science fields in college and 21% of those majored in environmental studies. Approximately 33% of LEAF alumni have secured budding careers in related fields.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Danielle Dulken
(212) 691-2800

Rachel Vasquez
(703) 841-4507


   Please leave this field empty
x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Learn about the places you love. Find out
how you can help.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

I'm already on the list!

Read our privacy policy.