The Nature Conservancy and Toyota USA Foundation Create 100 Green Summer Jobs for High School Students

Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future program, now in 18th year, expands to 100 students working in 22 states this summer.

Arlington, VA | July 16, 2012

The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) interns are working with restoration experts, scientists and partners in the field and learning about careers in conservation.  LEAF interns — who all attend urban environmentally themed high schools — work in nature preserves across the country where they will learn about and come to more fully appreciate nature.

“The main goal of the LEAF program is to engage urban youth with the environment in hopes of fostering a passion for our planet that will stick with them both personally and professionally,” said Brigitte Griswold, director of youth programs for The Nature Conservancy.

Four students hailing from Queens and New York, NY, and Guyana will join Conservancy staff in the Central Appalachians of Virginia and the Potomac Gorge of Maryland in July where they will conduct water quality monitoring, prescribed fire planning and monitoring, invasive species control, and trail maintenance. An emphasis will be placed on preparing the students for careers in conservation and enhancing their classroom educations with hands-on science adventures. Students will also take tours of local colleges.

The LEAF program has experienced exciting success since its inception, including sending a LEAF alumnus, Josh Carrera, to the recent Rio +20 conference as a Youth Delegate (click here to read about Josh’s experience, which was featured in the New York Times).

Local Media Availability:

  • July 18 near Warm Springs Mountain Virginia – Students will conduct water quality monitoring of Cowpasture River, testing water samples and learning about forests ability to improve water quality.
  • July 19 near Warm Springs Mountain Virginia – Students will learn about prescribed burns and will get hands on experience rehabbing trails and roads near the burn sites. The burns help clear brush, fight invasive species and reduce the threat of larger catastrophic fires.
  • July 31 Potomac Gorge near Washington, D.C. – Students will explore Great Falls and learn about water flows of the Potomac River and the diversity wildlife in the area as well as experience the beauty of the falls, a prime example of natural areas and recreation opportunities near a large urban center.
  • August 2 Cecil County northeast of Baltimore, MD – Students will conduct habitat restoration including tree cutting at The Conservancy’s Pilot Serpentine Barren Preserve. Specifically, the students will learn about invasive species and restoration of natural grasslands.

The Toyota USA Foundation is the lead supporter of the LEAF program. The 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. The Foundation’s gift of $3.1 million in 2011 built 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.

Learn more about the LEAF program 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

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Tom McCann

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