When they arrived in July, the six New York City youths were a little uncertain of what lay ahead for them in Massachusetts. They were this summer’s interns in the Conservancy’s LEAF Program (Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future), and with their mentors, they began four weeks of stewardship and self-discovery in the Berkshires and Martha’s Vineyard.
By the time they left, the LEAF interns learned about new careers, checked out colleges, built self-confidence, learned work skills and gained new respect for conservation and the outdoors. While the Martha’s Vineyard crew pulled invasive plants and explored spectacular beaches, the Berkshires gang designed and built an informational kiosk and zipped through the forest along a zip line, courtesy of ZOAR Outdoor.
“It’s hard work, for sure, but it’s fun and it’s worth it to know that you’re doing good work for the environment,” says Andrea Patino, a student of the Academy for Environmental Leadership in Brooklyn, N.Y. Patino worked on the Berkshires crew this summer.
Since 1995, LEAF interns have worked alongside Conservancy scientists in 20 states to protect and restore habitat. This year, with the support of an unprecedented $3.1 MM grant from the Toyota USA Foundation, the program expanded from New York City to New Haven, CT, Plainsfield, NJ, and Atlanta, GA. Next year the program will continue to grow to serve students from environmental high schools in Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles.
October 21, 2011