For kids who grow up in New York City, it's hard to imagine a world outside of the five boroughs. But students enrolled in the Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future program (LEAF), know there's more to New York State than the city.
This summer, 10 students from environmental high schools around New York, left the concrete jungle for preserves around the state. They spent four weeks tending to trails at preserves in Central & Western New York, working along the shores of the Mashomack Preserve on Long Island, and counting Karner Blue Butterflies in Eastern New York. And that is only the beginning.
"The LEAF program taught me that the environment requires people working on it," says Oscar Perez, who spent his summer in Eastern New York. "If we don’t protect the wildlife, we will lose it."
For 17 years, LEAF has empowered urban students to learn more about the environment, and it has inspired those students to pursue careers in science and conservation. This year, the program sent 72 kids to preserves in 19 states - the largest field season yet, thanks to a grant from the Toyota USA Foundation.
“From doing this program, I learned that I might want a career in the environment," says intern Ren Chen. "I might work for The Nature Conservancy.” We should be so lucky!