LEAF Descends Upon Kentucky

The Nature Conservancy sends youth to Louisville to work on urban conservation projects.


Louisville, Kentucky | July 04, 2014

On July 7 at the Mayan Café in Louisville The Nature Conservancy’s Kentucky Chapter will host a luncheon to welcome six students and their mentors from the organization’s nationally-acclaimed Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program. The students, who attend high school near Atlanta, Georgia, will participate in a paid internship program aimed at engaging them in urban conservation projects in Jefferson County from July 7th– 31st.

During the course of their internship, the Conservancy’s Kentucky LEAF interns will work with Louisville-based conservation nonprofits Brightside and Louisville Grows on projects to enhance wildlife habitat and promote a healthy environment, including working on green trails and assisting with community gardens. The interns will also participate in restoring and caring for the city’s ailing tree canopy, which has earned Louisville the distinction of being the second hottest city in the nation.

“Nearly a quarter of our nation’s trees are in urban parks, along streets and in our backyards,” says Bill Toomey, Director of the Conservancy’s Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities Initiative, which is working with partners in Louisville. “When healthy, trees and forests serve as a critical component of a city’s natural infrastructure – producing oxygen, purifying air and drinking water, harboring wildlife, and providing social and health benefits to residents. With an estimated value of $2.4 trillion, our nation’s urban forests also play a role in economic prosperity.”

When not getting their hands dirty, the LEAF interns will tour city landmarks including Parklands of Floyd Fork, The Kentucky Science Center and Louisville Slugger. Their time in Kentucky also includes college visits to University of Louisville and Bellamarine University.

“Kentucky has the distinct honor of being the first urban conservation site for LEAF Interns in the program’s history,” says the Kentucky Chapter’s Director of Philanthropy, Cadell Walker, who recently opened the Conservancy’s new office in Louisville. “Conserving nature in cities reminds the LEAF Interns that nature is all around them and they can make a lasting impact in their own backyards. We hope that they make a connection here that will last a lifetime.”

This is the 20th year of the LEAF Program, whose mission is to engage urban youth in conservation activities now so that they will become stewards for our planet tomorrow. Since 1995, LEAF has expanded from one to 27 participating states and over 700 interns have participated. Thanks to support from the Toyota USA Foundation, LEAF continues to work with environmental high schools across the nation to combine classroom lessons with real-world conservation work experience for urban youth.

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 www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Cadell Walker
The Nature Conservancy
(859) 259-9655

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