ESA partners with The Nature Conservancy to support high school urban education program

Society to provide peer-reviewed resources to environmentally themed high schools

Since 1995, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has run an environmental leadership program for teenagers and their educators. The Toyota USA Foundation provides lead support for LEAF (Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future), a program which combines an enriched curriculum at environmentally themed high schools with paid internships for students of diverse backgrounds and cultures on Conservancy Preserves on the East Coast, from Maine to Georgia. Now LEAF is branching out.  Beginning in the fall of 2010, TNC and the Ecological Society of America will help educators from environmental high schools share best practices and scientific resources.

“The partnership between ESA and The Nature Conservancy is a natural alliance given our two organization’s respective strengths in ecology and conservation, and our shared commitment to nurturing the next generation of diverse environmental leaders,” said Brigitte Griswold, Director of Youth Programs for The Nature Conservancy.

The partnership with TNC provides ESA with $70,000 through the Toyota USA Foundation, enabling the Society to expand its reach to high school teachers and students interested in ecology and related careers in the field.

“This is a historic development for ESA.  For the first time, we have a dedicated staff person focused on secondary education programs, a natural extension of our award-winning undergraduate student program, SEEDS.” said Teresa Mourad, ESA Director of Education and Diversity Programs.

ESA’s SEEDS program, (Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability) nurtures the interest of underrepresented undergraduate students in ecological science.

“At a time when society faces enormous environmental challenges, this project is an opportunity for ESA to build upon its existing secondary and collegiate initiatives and begin a concerted dialog on effective ways to infuse ecology and environmental education throughout the high school curriculum,” said Mourad.

In 2010, the program will focus on eight participating schools in the states of New York and Connecticut.  Among the activities planned are:

  • -regular meetings and communication with high school educators across all subject areas
  • a Green Jobs fair highlighting natural resource careers and college preparation strategies
  • high-school appropriate resources from ESA’s peer-reviewed EcoEd Digital Library
  • scientific review and support of teacher lessons

More information on LEAF can be found at www.esa.org/education_diversity/k12/urban youth program.phpand  www.nature.org/leaf/about/educators.html


The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress. ESA publishes four journals and convenes an annual scientific conference. Visit the ESA website at www.esa.org.The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since 1951, The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide.   The Nature Conservancy works in all 50 states and more than 30 countries—protecting habitats from grasslands to coral reefs, from Australia to Alaska to Zambia. For more information, visit www.nature.org.

The Toyota USA Foundation is a $100 million charitable endowment created to support education programs serving kindergarten through 12th grade students and their teachers in the United States, with an emphasis on mathematics, science and environmental science. For additional information about the Toyota USA Foundation, visit www.toyota.com/foundation.

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