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July 11, 2012 The Nature Conservancy, the world's largest environmental conservation nonprofit organization, announced that 11 students from ECHS have earned coveted spots in its Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program. Thanks to ECS' partnership initiative, the students, many of whom have never left Los Angeles, let alone spent time in the wilderness, will participate in a paid internship program this summer.

Students will work alongside Conservancy scientists on Santa Cruz Island and in Montana's Centennial Sandhills Preserve to protect and restore habitat, save endangered species and remove non-native plants, while learning about careers in conservation. They will also visit colleges, and experience camping, kayaking, and swimming.

"We couldn't be prouder of these students," said Alison Suffet, founder and executive director of Environmental Charter Schools (ECS). "The Nature Conservancy internships are incredible, chance-of-a- lifetime opportunities to learn the importance of environmental preservation in remarkable real-life settings. Undoubtedly, students' experiences in Montana and on Santa Cruz Island will positively influence the course of the rest of their lives. Getting paid to do it is icing on the cake," Suffet added.

With the assistance of a $3.1 million grant from the Toyota USA Foundation, this comprehensive environmental-leadership program for teenagers and their educators now serves approximately 20 environmental high schools across the country.

"The main goal of our LEAF program is to engage urban youth with environmental learning in hopes of fostering a passion for our planet that will stick with them both personally and professionally for the rest of their lives," said Mike Sweeney, executive director of The Nature Conservancy. "Providing students with the opportunity to participate in actual conservation projects in ecologically sensitive places is a great complement to their classroom learning and gives them hands-on experience they may not otherwise get during the school year."

Learn more about the LEAF program and get to know the California interns in a cool slide show here.

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