Voices of Alumni: Josh Carrera

Learn why this adventurous LEAF alumnus keeps reaching for the top.

LEAF Flips the Switch

See Josh and other alumni talk about the life-changing impact of LEAF.


Josh is in the news! Read about it in the New York Daily News

Alumnus Josh Carrera spent his LEAF internship in Vermont. Since then, he has moved on to college, and one thing is clear: His experiences in the wild are helping shape his future.
"As a LEAF intern, I went camping for the first time, saw the night sky like never before and felt empowered as I worked to pull weeds and plant trees."


Describe your first experience working for the Conservancy as part of the LEAF Program.


During high school I spent a summer in the Southern Lake Champlain Valley in Vermont doing conservation work. Working for the Conservancy gave me the opportunity to leave New York City, be outdoors and live on my own. I went camping for the first time, saw the night sky like never before and felt empowered as I worked to pull weeds and plant trees. I learned that I would not always have my mother around to give me everything that I want. My attitude changed a lot.


You're now a student at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. Describe your program.


I am an environmental studies major with a minor in wildlife biology. What attracted me to the environmental program was its commitment to diversity and multicultural perspectives. The school feels very welcoming. It is the perfect fit for me.


When you’re not in school, you seem to keep very busy with new adventures involving conservation or volunteering.


It’s true. I’ve done other internships with the Conservancy in both Pine Butte, Montana, and Long Island, New York. And recently I also helped raise money to build homes for poor indigenous communities in Guatemala.


Your latest adventure is taking you to South America. Can you tell us about it?


I won a scholarship that supports study-abroad projects, and I’m spending my time in Ecuador with Round River Conservation Studies. We’ll be working with the Ecuadorean-based NGO Fundación Cordillera Tropical to help capture images of two cats — the oncilla and the margay — using motion-sensitive trip cameras.

After I leave Ecuador, I’ll go to Brazil, where I’ll be working with another study-abroad program. I hope to learn about how to better balance the needs of the Amazon rainforest with the needs of the farmers and indigenous peoples who depend on it.


Have you had any thoughts about what’s next?


Growing up in New York City, I never embraced my heritage. But going away and experiencing the world has made me want to know more about my background. Now I know that I want to focus my environmental efforts in Latin America working in sustainability or possibly environmental economics.


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