The Nature Conservancy Expands Environmental Program for Urban Youth

The LEAF program is made possible by The Toyota USA Foundation

NEW YORK, NY | July 19, 2012

This summer, The Nature Conservancy is expanding its signature youth program, Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future( LEAF), to four new cities in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington. This comprehensive, environmental leadership program for teenagers and their educators will now serve students attending multicultural environmental high schools in eight cities around the country. This summer, there are four students from New Haven, Connecticut working in Arizona.   

The Toyota USA Foundation’s gift of $3.1 million in 2011 continues to build on LEAF’s 17 years of success and provides critical funds to increase the number of environmental high schools and students served. In just two short years, LEAF has experienced 90% growth in the number of students served. 

"Everything that I'm doing now, everything that I'm interested in, my view on life and the world, started with the LEAF program,” said Josh Carrera, 21, a LEAF alumnus who just graduated from The University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.  

“The Toyota USA Foundation believes in supporting programs with long-term sustainable results. The Nature Conservancy and its partner environmental high schools have a successful history of empowering the next generation of conservationists, and we are incredibly proud to support the growth of this program," said Patricia Salas Pineda, Group Vice President of Philanthropy at Toyota Motor North America. 

LEAF’s mission is to expose urban youth to conservation careers at a young age 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 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.

“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 engage youth around the country and help foster a passion for the environment.”

Learn more about the students that LEAF serves, the Toyota USA Foundation and about this unique partnership model at

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. More information about the Toyota USA Foundation.

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

Cristin Klein

Javier Moreno


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