News / Science & Technology

US Conservation Program Teaches Teens about Nature

US Conservation Program Teaches Teens about Naturei
Mike O'Sullivan
August 14, 2014 8:33 PM
Teenagers have been removing invasive plants and protecting endangered species around the United States this summer, in a program run by The Nature Conservancy - a non-profit environmental group. Mike O'Sullivan met up with a team of girls on the Santa Rosa Plateau in Southern California.
Mike O'Sullivan

Teenagers have been removing invasive plants and protecting endangered species around the United States this summer, in a program run by The Nature Conservancy - a non-profit environmental group.

Six students are getting their first close-up look at lizards, doing a count of the creatures for an environmental census.  Some of these species are threatened by their changing habitat. 

Yulissa Arevalo, 17, is learning a lot.

“I used to just go on hikes and look at lizards and think that they were all the same, but there are different ones - horned lizards, whiptail lizards, fence lizards," she said.

The Western Fence Lizard is identified by its blue belly.  

The girls are part of a summer program at nature preserves and parks around the United States to educate students about the environment, and steer some into environmental careers. Open to boys and girls, it's called Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future. 

Outside the Nature Conservancy's New York office, Brigitte Griswold says it's the result of a partnership between the conservation group and 25 environmental high schools.

“Students are involved in our nature preserves doing everything from shellfish restoration to restoring the L.A. River to helping to ensure healthy populations of trees right here in New York City," said Griswold.

It's a month of exploration for these California students.  Some are now thinking about careers as environmental lawyers, teachers or scientists.

Griswold says whatever their chosen field, the summer program broadens their perspective.

“As we explore urban sustainability, urban planning, green infrastructure.  These are all things that in order for cities to be sustainable in the future, we're going to need professionals that are really equipped to understand these issues," she said.

Julie Anaya, one of the students taking part in the summer program, plans to become a doctor and says this environmental work has opened her eyes to the effects of pollution and climate change.

“And it makes you want to do more to help the environment, because at home, you're just like, OK, [environmental degradation] is happening and I don't really care, but when you see it happening, you become more like, 'this is wrong.  I have to do something about it,'" she said.

The students spend their days with biologists and older mentors.  Counselor Petey Camarillo says they are working as a team, away from the usual distractions.

“Most of them are away from home for the very first time.  This is a month-long program, so for four weeks, they're out here.  They don't have technology - no cell phones, no television," said Camarillo.

Student Michelle Cornejo says they are learning important lessons.

“How everything is connected, from us humans to plants to mountain lions.  It's pretty amazing," she said.

Mysterious holes in a nearby tree are the work of woodpeckers, and a tarantula's remains offer another teaching moment.  

It's all part of the daily discovery of this summer program.  

You May Like

AU Takes Action on Boko Haram, Defers on S. Sudan

African Union is moving forward with a request for a military force to stop the spread of Boko Haram insurgency in West Africa; Ban Ki-moon welcomes decision to form a five-nation force More

Mass Protests Held for 58 Killed in Pakistani Shi'ite Mosque Bombing

Thousands of Shi'ite Muslims took to the streets across Pakistan Saturday to protest a powerful bomb blast at a mosque in Sindh province during Friday prayers, killing dozens of people More

Williams Wins Australian Open with Straight-Set Victory over Sharapova

The win is Serena Williams' sixth in Australia, and her 19th overall Grand Slam title More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.

All About America