WESTON, Conn. — Four teens from New Haven hit the trails to improve natural preserves in Weston this July.
The teens are members of The Nature Conservancy’s internship program dubbed Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future, or LEAF. They went to work in the Devil’s Den and the Katharine Ordway preserves.
“They were working on a variety of projects,” Cynthia Fowx, conservation outreach and Devil's Den Preserve manager, told the Daily Voice. “All of them were focused on improving our visitors' experience.”
The teens engaged in way-finding projects. They painted trail blazes so hikers would be better able to find their way around the preserves.
They also installed water bars, or diagonal ditches that redirect water from the trails. The bars prevent erosion by sending water off the trail and flowing into vegetation.
But the summer wasn’t all work for the teens.
“The internship is a mix of both work and education,” Fowx said. The program also engaged in educational programming with conversancy staff.
Interns are paid, Fowx said, and are required to make a one-month commitment. The program typically hires high-achieving students from environmentally friendly high schools. Fowx estimates that interns worked in 11 cities across the country this summer.
This summer’s interns were from Sound School Regional Vocational Aquaculture Center and Common Ground High School, two schools with environmental-themed curriculums in New Haven.
This year’s group included Ted Brooks, Elmer Galvez and Loc Nguyen from Common Ground. Another participant, Enoc Escobar, attends Sound School.
Fowx said that she hopes the program inspires a new generation of environmentally focused leaders.
The program has been in Connecticut for five years, she said. But LEAF began 21 years ago at the national level.
“Ultimately, we’re really working for the next generation of environmental leaders,” Fowx said. “Whether they are working directly in the environmental field after high school or just in their day-to-day lives, we hoped they have used those positive outdoor experiences and tools internship has provided to benefit the environment and come up with the kind of solutions we haven’t started to address yet.”
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