Learning to Love Nature

Internship Takes High School Kids from Pavement to Paradise

Summer’s here, but not everyone is heading for vacation. Ten Los Angeles high schoolers are spending the season participating in The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program, which empowers young people who want to help protect the environment.

The group of 10, who all attend Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, will leave the city to live and work as paid interns on Nature Conservancy preserves, where they’ll learn about careers in conservation by assisting with land management, public outreach and scientific research. The work is demanding, and many of them have never spent extended time in nature.

The girls will work nearby in Riverside County at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, while the boys will be headed to the Disney Wilderness Preserve in Florida.

Meet the Students:

learning-to-love-nature-rosalina-bairesRosalinda Baires

“I went snorkeling on Catalina Island. It was the most amazing experience. I was able to see marine life up close, intensifying my love for marine life in a way I didn’t know was possible.”




learning-to-love-nature-melissa-bushMelissa Bush

“It’s not every day you get to work with a group of scientists.”




learning-to-love-nature-kayla-jacksonKayla Jackson

“I feel like LEAF will better my understanding of environmental issues, and better me as a person.”




learning-to-love-nature-sarah-juarezSarah V. Juarez

“I hope to learn more about land preservation and preserving native California species.”




learning-to-love-nature-alondra-mejiaAlondra Mejia

“My family goes on hikes, but only for a few hours. Yet in those hours I feel relaxed.”




learning-to-love-nature cristina-sanchezCristina Sanchez

“I was able to spend a week camping in the Malibu Mountains. It was amazing and beautiful, and it felt so good to wake up to the sound of birds and not cars.”




learning-to-love-nature-johnpaul-delaoJohnpaul DeLao 

“I hope to teach environmental science and push kids in acknowledging the relationship between their actions and how they affect the environment.”




learning-to-love-nature-armando-penalesArmando Penales

“I want to advocate for multiple environmental problems, whether it’s soil erosion or renewable energy resources; I want to fight for something I feel passionate about.”




learning to love nature joseph romeroJoseph Romero

“I applied because of my love of nature and desire to protect it.”




learning to love nature jeffrey villacortaJeffrey Villacorta

“[It will be] very hard work, but it will push me out of my comfort zone. I love taking on new challenges like this.”

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