Environmental leaders train in Highland County

Scotchtown Crossing, Va. – The Nature Conservancy’s LEAF Program is expanding each year. LEAF stands for Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future. High school students from across the United States are working in 22 states from New England south to Florida, and across the country to Washington State, California and Arizona. This year’s group of Nature Conservancy summer interns at the Warm Springs office is from New York City.

Jennifer Dilone, just graduated from the High School for Environmental Studies, in New York City. She is a veteran of the LEAF Program, having attended one last year in Wisconsin. Jennifer talks about her experience with the LEAF Program and her plans for the fall.

“Usually you only get to do this once, but my mentor and other people gave good reviews, so I was able to do it again this year,” said Ms. Dilone. “And I love it, it’s amazing. Like, how does a city girl adjust to a new environment? And I guess I’m able to adjust anywhere then. Right now I’m majoring in Biology. I’m not sure yet what I want to do with my Biology major – probably environmental. I’ve always been in a lot of environmental activities. For example, LEAF, I did it last year and now this year. I was in the Environmental Club at my school and I worked with Whole Foods and Toshiba American Foundation.”

Jennifer will attend the University of Vermont this fall. Alondra Espino just finished her junior year at the High School for Environmental Studies. She talks about her impressions of Virginia and her favorite subject in school.

“Oh, it’s beautiful,” said Ms. Espino. “I don’t think I have ever seen such beautiful landscapes, because we definitely don’t have that in New York. People are so friendly here. I have never met people so nice. I think it is a southern thing. The sights that I have seen like the mountain tops and the mountain ranges. I think it is all wonderful. I’m really into math, so my AP Calculus class, that was interesting. It was a challenge. But I liked it. I definitely want to go into the mathematics field.

Nisi Mendez attends the Academy for Urban Planning in Brooklyn. She will be a senior this year.

“My favorite class is Urban Ecology,” said Ms. Mendez. “I actually studied what we are doing now, which is testing the water and getting insects. So it was very similar to what we are doing now. We did that in New Town Creek, which is very polluted, so I knew a lot about it.”

Nisi plans to study to be an architect. Sherryann Thomas attends the Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment. She will be a senior this fall. Sherryann talks about her impressions of Virginia and her plans for the future.

“I think it’s amazing – the forested areas,” said Ms. Thomas. “Yesterday we went hiking. We saw the landscape and the mountains. It was so beautiful. I think it’s really nice here. I really enjoyed AP Biology, even though it was very challenging. We learned a lot in that class. My teacher was great and I really liked it. After high school I’m definitely going to college. I’m thinking of majoring in Biology because I want to go to medical school and become a pediatrician.”

The LEAF Interns will move on to Rockville, Maryland next, to get more experience in conservation work, before returning to New York.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

Current Weather