During its second year in Illinois, the LEAF program brought summer interns from Al Raby High School in Chicago and from the High School for Environmental Studies in New York.
The three female interns from Al Raby and their mentor traveled to the Saco Heath Preserve in Maine.
And the three male interns from Al Raby traveled to Illinois’ Emiquon Preserve to meet three more male interns and a mentor from New York.
After learning about The Nature Conservancy, various habitats and the Saco Heath and Emiquon Preserves during orientation, the LEAF interns were taken out into the field to explore.
The boys at Emiquon kicked off their first week with a tour on an airboat.
The girls quickly adapted to the paths at the Saco Heath Preserve. Danyell even gave tours of the preserve.
The interns had fun but accomplished a lot of work, too. At Emiquon, they collected seeds, assisted on an archeological dig and moved native fish from a rearing pond to Emiquon. As their supervisor Jason Beverlin said, “We got much more done than we could have without them.”
In Maine, the girls reconstructed a 200-foot boardwalk at the Saco Heath Preserve.
The boys at Emiquon also learned how to canoe during their stay.
And, they received special training on tools and equipment that are vital to conservation. They used this knowledge to work on invasive species removal and site maintenance.
Alongside students at the University of Illinois Springfield, the LEAF interns at Emiquon collected water samples and viewed them under microscopes.
While the interns at Emiquon were surprised by the amount of bugs they found, the girls embraced some of the slimier residents of the Saco Heath Preserve.
LEAF has allowed these students to take their classroom environmental education outdoors. For one month, they have learned to canoe, seign for fish, remove invasive species and maintain the environment around them, making for an experience they will never forget.
LEAF in Action
A look at the hard work these high school students are doing at some of The Nature Conservancy's preserves.