Maryland/DC and Virginia Chapters of Nature Conservancy Welcome LEAF Students to Local Nature Preserves

Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF), now in its 17th year, connects students from urban settings with nature landscapes and helps them continue their environmental education during the summer

BETHESDA, MD | July 11, 2011

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The Maryland/DC and Virginia chapters of The Nature Conservancy are two of the many state chapters around the country hosting seventy-two paid interns with the generous support of the Toyota USA Foundation. Students, many of whom have never spent time out of their city, will train for green jobs and enhance their classroom education by participating in conservation activities like trail maintenance, invasive species control and environmental education programs.
This is the 17th 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. 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.

Hear what past interns have learned from the LEAF program.
This environmental leadership program for teenagers and their educators now serves approximately 20,000 students attending multicultural environmental high schools in urban areas including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Georgia. With the assistance of a $3.1 million grant from the Toyota USA Foundation, the program will also add new schools in California, Illinois and Massachusetts by 2012.
“Our main goal of the LEAF program is to engage urban youth with environmental learning at a young age in hopes of fostering a passion for our planet that will stick with them both personally and professionally for the rest of their lives,” said Brigitte Griswold, director of Youth Programs for The Nature Conservancy.  “Providing students with the opportunity to participate in actual conservation projects on preserves around the country we can help complement their classroom learning and give them hands-on experience.”

Media Opportunities

Students will learn about the importance of water flows in the Potomac Gorge, biodiversity and invasive species control techniques.

  • Friday July 15th: invasive plants control and educational hike through the Potomac Gorge.

Students will be helping with a few projects near our Warm Springs Mountain Preserve. The preserve boarders George Washington Forest and is one of the places Nature Conservancy is working with the Park Service to fight invasive species and restore natural vegetation. 

  • Monday and Tuesday, July 18-19: Pinnacle Trail Renovation, trail and boardwalk construction and trail marking
  • Wednesday, July 20: River Water Quality Monitoring, sampling macroinvertebrates to test for stream water quality
  • Thursday, July 21: Warm Springs Mountain Preserve Boundary Marking
  • Friday, July 22: Mammal Population Survey, assisting Virginia Tech researchers with tracking small mammals, white-tailed deer and coyotes as part of a predator-prey relationship study

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

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Tom McCann
Associate Director

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