The Nature Conservancy hopes that as more people get outside, they’ll become avid environmentalists
All four of the students who participated in last summer’s Leaders for Environmental Action for the Future program, sponsored by the Delaware chapter of The Nature Conservancy, were from the city: Keeley Duffy, Julia Lee and Jennifer Pizano attend the Conrad Schools of Science near Wilmington; Oni Snead, the one intern from out of state, is a student at W.B. Saul High School in Philadelphia.
LEAF is intended for exactly this kind of student: those who are interested in environmental science but, because they live in urban areas, have few opportunities to work outside. And the program gives them that opportunity. Last summer, the interns’ activities included mulching trails at The Nature Conservancy’s Edward H. McCabe Nature Preserve near Milton, digging up invasive plants
in the new wildflower meadow there and helping to stock oyster cages maintained by the Center for the Inland Bays.
Keeley, who is 17 and intends to become a history teacher, says that even before her internship, she had an appreciation of nature. “I have always believed that nature is a beautiful thing and that we should take care of it before we destroy the ecosystems around us,” she says.
Her work with the LEAF program reinforced that notion. She learned about saltwater intrusion, which is being exacerbated by sea level rise, and about invasive plants that move in and that make it hard for native species to survive. This knowledge “made me very disappointed about how we are treating our land and how much more we could be doing to fix things that could have been [fixed] years ago,” she says.