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December 07, 2016
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LEAF: life-changing nature internships

Trails like this are open to the public at the Neversink River Preserve, which features a heron rookery and a beautiful stretch of Spring Brook.

The program aims to provide students with a web of mentors, alumni and peers that is fundamental to successful youth development programs. With the help of their mentor, the interns also manage their living expenses for the duration of the program. Thrifty planning, conservative spending and lots of PBJs allow the young men to splurge on a special meal at the conclusion of the internship.

Intern Perez noted that while he loves his city life, he’s gained a new understanding of why and how conservation work happens. Mentor Jones-Yellin, who is studying natural resource management at Cornell University, said he values the opportunity to work with the team while learning more about TNC and its programs, people and philosophies.

TNC cites concern with today’s increasingly urban and digital world, where young people grow up without meaningful experiences in nature—the most often cited influence on adult attitudes and behaviors about the environment. The organization holds that if left unchecked, these trends could rob the environmental movement of its future leaders.

As part of the solution, the LEAF program promotes conservation literacy and a love of the outdoors while targeting urban youth from populations largely underrepresented in the conservation movement.
Visit for more information on the program.

See to read inspiring stories about LEAF alumni.