Photo credit: ©Daniel Cole/TNC
For the second consecutive year, ECHS students earned The Nature Conservancy’s “Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF)” summer internships. 10 juniors — girls: Melissa Bush, Kala Jackson, Cristina Sanchez, Rosalinda Baires, Sarah Juarez and Alondra Mejia; and boys: John Paul de la O, Jeffrey Villarcorta, Joseph Romero and Aaron Penales — spent part of their summers as paid interns on Conservancy preserves.
The ECHS girls LEAF Team monitored reptiles, pulled invasive plants and maintained trails on the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve and other protected lands in the area — known collectively as the Santa Rosa Plateau — comprise an unusually intense concentration of extraordinary species rarely encountered anywhere.
Photo credit: ©Kevin Horan/TNC
The boys’ Florida LEAF Team partnered with Disney Wilderness Preserve staff to assist in the restoration of the longleaf pine forest while learning about the importance of prescribed fire programs. They helped Conservancy staff monitor the Florida Scrub Jay population on the Preserve, cleared and maintained hiking trails and well transect lines for well monitoring, repaired fencing, and surveyed recently burned uplands for invasive plant species.
LEAF’s mission is to engage urban youth in conservation activities now so they will become future stewards for our planet. The program provides paid, residential career internships for students on nature preserves around the country and enriches their experiences in the classroom by providing professional development opportunities to educators from partner high schools like ECHS.