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US Conservation Program Teaches Teens about Nature


 
These girls 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.
17-year-old, Yulissa Arevalo, is learning a lot.
Yulissa Arevalo: “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.”
The Western Fence Lizard is identified by its blue belly.
The students 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.
Brigitte Griswold: “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."
It's a month of exploration for these California students. Some are now thinking about careers as environmental lawyers, teachers or scientists.
Julie Anaya now plans to become a doctor and says this summer program has opened her eyes to the effects of pollution and climate change.
Julie Anaya: “And it makes you like want to do more to help the environment, because you at home, you're just like, ‘OK, it’s happening and I don't really care’, but when you see it happening, you become more like, 'Oh, this is wrong. I have to do something about it.'"
The students spend their days with biologists and older mentors, they are working as a team, away from the usual distractions, said Counselor Petey Camarillo.
Petey Camarillo: “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.”
Student Michelle Cornejo says they are learning important lessons.
Michelle Cornejo: “How everything is connected, from us humans to plants to mountain lions. It's pretty amazing.”
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. Mike O'Sullivan, VOA news, Murrieta, California.
Source: VOA


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