Four urban teens from Connecticut have some new stories to tell after spending this summer immersed in the wilds of Oregon.
They’re participating in The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program, a paid internship to empower the next generation of conservationists. The program takes urban students to preserves around the country.
This is the first time LEAF has come to Oregon.
Armed with GPS units and wearing rubber boots, the young women experienced environmental science firsthand along the Oregon Coast.
They searched out the last remaining shoots of cordgrass (Spartina patens), an invasive plant that was growing unchecked on Cox Island in the Siuslaw River near Florence. They also spent time restoring grasslands that support a rare butterfly in the Big Creek Reserve, located on the Central Coast.
“I realize you have to jump outside your comfort zone to make a difference,” says intern Ariana Rodriguez. “It's also showed me that this is something I want to include in my future in order to make a different environment.”
Amber Fearnley, The Sound School in New Haven, Connecticut
Amber Fearnley loves nature and it shows. At every opportunity she’s outside, whether it’s camping, swimming or just enjoying nature. She chose her high school because she is “lucky enough to know what she wants to pursue and work towards it.” She also loves that the school gives her an opportunity to have hands-on experience in many different areas; something she will also get to experience during her LEAF internship. Amber plans on becoming a veterinarian since animals play such an important part within the environment.
Amber Gunther, The Sound School in New Haven, Connecticut
Amber Gunther loves attending The Sound School and is very excited by the opportunity to do the LEAF internship. Amber’s future plans include becoming a marine biologist and a photographer. One of her favorite subjects at school is aquaculture. She finds the relationship between the marine environment and the land environment very interesting and hopes others see the important connection between the two. Amber has 11 pets, loves to take care of the aquariums at school and is a member of the sailing club.
Linnette Mendoza, Common Ground High School in New Haven, Connecticut
Linnette Mendoza loves going on adventure club trips with her classmates, having new experiences and meeting new people. LEAF will certainly offer her all of this and more! Although Linnette hasn’t made up her mind regarding her career, she does have an interest in psychology specifically working with children. She wants to incorporate her love of the environment into this work.
Ariana Rodriguez, Common Ground High School in New Haven, Connecticut
In addition to attending high school, Ariana Rodriguez is currently taking classes at a community college. She plans on going to school for forensic science and incorporating environmental science into her career. She has always loved nature since she was a little girl and has traveled with her mom to many natural areas throughout the Caribbean.
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