The Nature Conservancy Sends Students to Martha's Vineyard, Berkshires for Internships

Local students from Boston Green Academy embark on adventure.

BOSTON, MA | July 03, 2012

The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation organization, announced today that students from its Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program are heading out for a great summer adventure.

“We’re excited to offer these students a total immersion in nature, to change the way they see the world and their place in it, and open their eyes to the idea of working in conservation someday,” said Wayne Klockner, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.

Seniors and recent graduates from Boston Green Academy, most of whom have never spent extended time out of the city, let alone one-on-one with frogs and deer and mosquitoes, will participate in a paid internship program from July 9 through August 3.

“Boston Green Academy's partnership with the Nature Conservancy's LEAF Program is core to our mission. This powerful experience will transform our students and serve as a catalyst for their environmental activism,” said Ariel Martinez, development director at Boston Green Academy, 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.

During the course of their internships on Martha’s Vineyard and in the Berkshires, they will train for green jobs, visit college campuses and enhance their classroom education by participating in conservation activities like removing invasive species, building and maintaining trails, raising native plants and caring for shorebird nesting areas.

This is the first summer that Boston students are participating in LEAF. Three young men and three young women from Boston Green Academy will depart for four weeks in nature on Monday, July 9th. Students headed for a month without their families, friends and cell phones include:

Erikka Blackstone wants to be a businesswoman, and she sees the connection between Boston’s environment and its economic success. Excited to be away from home for the first time, she’s looking forward to developing a new view on the world.

Alexandrine Vilson is interested in a career in medicine, and is intrigued by the connections between nature the development of new treatments for cancer and other diseases. She looks forward to learning how to ride a bike and going camping.

Daniel Felix sees her future in engineering, and is interested in developing new solutions to air pollution and other urban challenges. She looks forward to the quiet that she’ll experience away from the city and having her first real job. She’ll study at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall.

Michael Dottin-Godbold loves nature, but never has the time he’d like to spend outside. He’s considering a career as a therapist, and will be headed to Bay State College in the fall.

Bless Amedoadzi loves chemistry and wants to study nursing. He volunteers to keep his neighborhood green and beautiful, and is excited to bring that energy to a new environment.

Gerardo Reyes wants to help develop clean engines someday. He’s never been out in nature for more than a day, and is excited to get out of the city and try ziplining.“This world deserves people who can take care of it,” Reyes said. “We can be those people, we just need to take action and learn from our mistakes.”

Nationally, this is the 18th year of the LEAF program, whose mission is to engage urban youth in conservation activities now so that they will become stewards for our planet tomorrow. The program provides paid, residential career internships for students on nature preserves around the country and enriches these experiences in the classroom by providing professional development opportunities to educators from partner high schools.

This comprehensive, environmental leadership program for teenagers and their educators now serves approximately 20,000 students attending multicultural environmental high schools in urban areas including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Georgia. With the assistance of a $3.1 million grant from the Toyota USA Foundation, the program will also add new schools in California, Washington, and Illinois this summer.

“The main goal of the LEAF program is to engage urban youth with environmental learning at a young age in hopes of fostering a passion for our planet that will stick with them both personally and professionally for the rest of their lives,” said Brigitte Griswold, director of Youth Programs for The Nature Conservancy.

“Providing students with the opportunity to participate in actual conservation projects in places like the Vineyard is a great complement to their classroom learning and gives them hands-on experience they may not otherwise get during the school year,” Griswold said.

Learn more about the students that LEAF serves, the Toyota USA Foundation and about this unique partnership model 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

Contact information

James Miller
Media Relations Manager
The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts
(617) 532-8339

Misty Edgecomb
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts
(617) 532-8317

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