Students Take Action for Nature This Summer

Meet Our Summer Interns

View a slideshow and meet our summer interns from New York City and Wisconsin.

LEAF in Wisconsin

Our LEAF interns from New York describe their experiences in Wisconsin in this video.


Chyna, Anahi, Elianny and Jennifer weren’t quite sure what to expect when they started their four-week internship in Wisconsin, but they knew it would be different from home in New York.

“I thought it would be kind of dead, lots of tumbleweeds,” said Chyna.

“It’s so quiet here,” Elianny commented. “Where are all the people?”

“Wisconsin is better than I expected,” said Anahi. “I thought it would be all cheese, cows and farms.”

The young women, who attend environmental high schools in New York City, are part of The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) {} program. LEAF is an ambitious effort, supported by the Toyota USA Foundation, to empower the next generation of conservation leaders and equip them with the skills and knowledge to address our world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

Together with their mentor Marissa Maggio, a high school teacher in New York City, the LEAF interns joined four interns from Wisconsin high schools to help the Conservancy manage its lands and waters at Lulu Lake, Crooked Creek and other preserves in the Mukwonago River watershed.

The Wisconsin high school students are part of the Conservancy’s local summer internship program, which has been providing hands-on conservation skills and experience for the past 13 years.

For four weeks, the interns helped remove invasive plants like bull thistles and hybrid cattails, built a greenhouse and shelves in the Conservancy’s Pickerel Lake office, helped with trail maintenance and participated in aquatic invasive species surveys from canoes.

But it wasn’t “all work and no play” for the LEAF interns while they were in Wisconsin.

“Every day we got to do something new like eating octopus, sailing on Lake Michigan and visiting the state fair” said Chyna. “I really liked driving the pontoon boat on Lulu Lake.”

On their last day, the young women from New York shared their thoughts about their LEAF internship.

“What stands out for me about my time in Wisconsin is how this country still conserves its habitat,” said Elianny.

“To others considering a LEAF internship, I would say this is a lifetime opportunity to have a huge impact on society,” said Jennifer. “And if you love nature, go for it!”

“This internship definitely confirmed for me that zoology is what I want to dedicate my life to,” said Anahi. “I want to work in the outdoors for wildlife and habitat conservation.”

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