Boston Teens to Experience Nature Immersion with LEAF
New Nature Conservancy and Boston Green Academy Partnership Will Bring Environmental Leadership Internship Opportunities to Boston Students
Meet LEAF Intern Juliana Reyes
See a Spanish (with subtitles) interview with 2011 Leaf intern Juliana Reyes.
The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts and The Boston Green Academy Wednesday announced a partnership to provide conservation internships for local students. This summer, between six and eight students from BGA will be selected for paid summer 2012 internships at Nature Conservancy preserves through the national Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program.
“It’s a total immersion in nature,” said Wayne Klockner, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. “LEAF provides experiences that change how these students see the world and their place in it.”
LEAF’s goal is to provide opportunities for diverse groups of urban students to experience jobs in conservation, in hopes of recruiting a new class of leaders for tomorrow’s conservation movement. For many participants, LEAF represents their first time living away from a city and their first paid job. For others, coming face to face with wildlife, paddling a kayak through ocean waves or simply spending four weeks away from cell phones and video games is transformative.
“Currently, 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas. We need urban dwellers to care about nature and to understand how it affects their lives,” Klockner said. “LEAF is about providing opportunities for these future leaders − who will transform the conservation movement − to connect with nature in a meaningful way.”
Boston Green Academy is a Horace Mann Charter School that was founded in fall 2011 to prepare high school students to be leaders in environmental stewardship and activism, with a focus on preparing them for jobs in the growing green economy.
“The LEAF program is a unique opportunity for our students to experience and preserve the natural treasures of our state that are their birthright but to which they often have limited access,” said Jeffrey Liberty, Headmaster of Boston Green Academy. “The program also challenges our students to be environmental leaders, which is key to our mission and the mission of the LEAF program.”
The Nature Conservancy’s LEAF program has been providing internships for New York City students since 1995, and almost three dozen NYC interns have worked on Nature Conservancy preserves in Massachusetts since 2003. Boston’s first class of LEAF interns will be selected via an interview process this spring, and will begin work on Martha’s Vineyard and in the Berkshires in July.
“We’ve had great experiences with interns from New York, but we think it’s important to create opportunities for students here in Boston,” Klockner said. “The future of the environment here in Massachusetts is in their hands.”
A survey of LEAF alumni, conducted in 2010, found that students who participated in the program are far more likely than their peers to take a stand on environmental issues and volunteer for conservation organizations. More than 70 percent of alumni surveyed described themselves as “environmentalists,” as compared to just 40 percent of the general public. And LEAF alumni are also more likely to attend college and to major in fields related to the environment.
Much of the program’s success can be traced to its relationships with environmental and science high schools, like the Boston Green Academy, where an ongoing relationship with The Nature Conservancy will reinforce learning about the environment throughout the year. Boston Green Academy will also be joining the LEAF Educators Network, a group of educators across the nation who share best practices in urban environmental education.
LEAF is funded by a grant from the Toyota USA Foundation, as well as private donations.
Learn more about the LEAF program in Massachusetts.
Connecting America's Youth to Nature: A national survey of youth and the outdoors
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 www.nature.org.