“THE IDEA OF HELPING OUT THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY IS AMAZING TO ME AND THE FACT THAT I CAN DO IT WHILE HELPING NATURE TOO IS A BIG PLUS.”
- Addis Zebulun , Denver School for Science and Technology
A firm believer that one person’s efforts can make a huge impact, 17-year-old Addis Zebulun is preparing to put his theory into action this July. The Denver School for Science and Technology junior is one of six urban high school students who will be spending their summer outdoors at the Carpenter Ranch Preserve near Steamboat Springs as part of the Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future program, or LEAF.
This is the fourth year that Colorado has participated in the LEAF program, which is dedicated to giving students the opportunity to learn about conservation careers and science while spending time outdoors. LEAF is about empowering the next generation of conservation leaders and feeding the motivation and passion for nature and science among these young leaders.
In addition to working at a Conservancy preserve, the six interns will work on stewardship projects in partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service. The students will learn about conservation through hands-on activities like building trails, removing invasive plant species and stocking and tagging fish. For many LEAF interns, this program will be their first outdoor experience.
The independence and freedom that comes from a month spent with LEAF is a new learning opportunity for many of the interns as well. Beyond learning firsthand about on-the-ground conservation, the interns will also learn life skills as they will be responsible for cooking meals, doing their own laundry and keeping a budget – great experience as they prepare for their lives beyond high school.
“There aren’t a lot of opportunities to explore environmental sciences through extracurricular activities in the city,” says intern Richard Dominique, also 17, “but participation in the LEAF program will provide me with the perfect opportunity to gain experience in a field I’m interested in pursuing and figure out which specific areas interest me most.” Hoping to major in environmental studies when he starts college, Richard is excited about the program this summer as he thinks it will have a large impact on his interest in nature.
STRENGTHENING SCIENCE EDUCATION
Since 1995, the LEAF program has had a tremendous impact on urban youth—opening their eyes to career possibilities, building self-confidence, work skills and conservation literacy.
The LEAF program works with a select group of environmental high schools, including the Denver School for Science and Technology, and provides paid summer internships for students in natural areas across the nation. It also helps educators from environmental high schools share best practices and resources during the academic year.
This year's program was made possible through the generous support of the Toyota USA Foundation.
This summer, LEAF will have 44 mentors working with the 145 student interns from Colorado, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington in 27 host states.