LEAF Helps Grow Future Environmental Leaders in Delaware

This summer, six high school students from around the northeast, with dreams of making a difference for our planet, gained confidence, work experience and conservation science knowledge through their internship with The Nature Conservancy’s in Delaware during the month of July.

LEAF interns at Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, where they learned about our region’s ecosystem, and helped clear public canoe trails at the center

The students were selected for the internship from environmental-themed high schools in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York to perform hands-on conservation work through The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) Program, supported by Lowe’s. Now in its 22nd year, the LEAF program provides paid internships for high school students on nature preserves around the country today, to equip them to become environmental leaders and stewards for our planet tomorrow.

Michael Vu, a senior at the High School for Environmental Studies in New York City and one of Delaware’s LEAF interns this year, aspires to be a marine biologist. “My career goal is to stop the deaths of coral reefs,” Michael shared. “Before I die, I’d like to see the oceans restored: no more overfishing, coral bleaching, removal of waste, saving species.”

Participating in the LEAF program was an important step in setting Michael on his way toward achieving his goal. During the internship, Michael and his fellow interns—Anish Shenoy, Isaiah Orellana, Isaiah Quinones, Justen Brunson and Nazareth Church—gained real-world conservation science knowledge and job skills through hands-on conservation work with Nature Conservancy staff and scientists.

During their four-week paid internship, The LEAF interns mulched trails at The Nature Conservancy’s Edward H. McCabe Nature Preserve, planted oyster shells with the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, learned geographic information systems at First State National Historical Park, and surveyed mussels with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. They also participated in a workday with their counterparts and Conservancy staff from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to highlight a cross-border collaboration, important for forging a community-based conservation effort in our region.

LEAF interns perform trail and preserve maintenance at the Edward H. McCabe Nature Preserve.

Anish Shenoy, a junior from New York City with a serious interest in technology, was excited about the impact that participating in the LEAF program would allow him to make. “Living in a city like New York, I always do whatever I can to make an impact, whether it’s always recycling or helping to clean up parks,” he says. “Without LEAF, I would never have the opportunity to make this big of an impact.”

Intern Nazareth Church shared how the program impacted the way he thinks about his future. “LEAF has taught me that I can use my own career choice to make an impact on the environment in a positive way,” he said. “I want to start a LEAF club at Conrad School of Science to spread awareness of it. I want to become the LEAF Ambassador for Delaware, and start to expand its influence.”

Learn more about the students who LEAF serves, Lowe’s support, and about this unique partnership model at www.nature.org/youth.

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