Students from the Big Apple at Colorado's Carpenter Ranch

Life on the Carpenter Ranch

A Colorado LEAF intern saddles up a horse for the first time.


From Pollinators to Your Plate

LEAF Intern Raymond Rodriquez connects the importance of bees to the food on his plate.


“I am familiar with bugs. I like dirt.”

So says 17-year-old Keon Flavius as he begins a summer adventure far from his usual surroundings in New York City.

“I love being outdoors,” chimes in Spanish Harlem-resident Raymond Rodriguez, also age 17. “I’m not a fan of bugs, but if necessary, I will deal with them.”

“Nature can’t be enjoyed [as easily] in the city,” says Sky Strang, another 17-year-old from New York.

The three young men from the Big Apple, along with mentor Aaron Davitt, are spending their summer with the Conservancy in Colorado.

They’ve joined 72 other high school students from urban environments who are heading to preserves across the country as part of the Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future program (LEAF).

For many of these high school students, it will be their first experience in the outdoors.

Future Leaders

LEAF is all about empowering the next generation of conservation leaders. The program works with a select group of environmental high schools, and provides paid summer internships for students in natural areas across the nation.

Colorado’s LEAF interns arrived in July and are in for an adventure.

Their primary task for the six-week internship is to help with on-the-ground restoration on the Conservancy’s Carpenter Ranch in northwest Colorado.

It will be a far cry from what these boys are used to.

Raymond says he applied for the LEAF program because he was interested in helping the environment and “wanted to be part of something I can be proud of.”

Goodbye, City Life

Colorado’s LEAF interns are up for the challenge.

Keon says that “staying in high school and not in the streets getting into trouble” has been one of his greatest accomplishments.

Raymond plans to have a career in the environment. He hopes to come away with a feeling of accomplishment and self-pride.

They all have high hopes for the summer.

“I’m expecting to have a good time while learning about environmental conservation in a hands-on way,” says Sky.


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