Employment statistics show that environmental science jobs are expected to grow by 25 percent by 2016, but how many of the future environmental scientist will by young men and women of color?

The Nature Conservancy’s LEAF internship program is working hard to make sure more young minority students are not only exposed to this booming field, but are learning all they can to be successful future scientists. Closing the gap of underrepresented minorities in the math and science fields is the primary focus of this program, which began in 1995.

This year, six interns were selected from Al Raby High School on Chicago’s West Side for LEAF. Studies show that 34 percent of the alumni from the LEAF program went on to major in life sciences,and the hope is that this will increase the amount of minority students who move on to get jobs in environmental science and engineering. 

LEAF goes beyond telling young students of color that they "can be all they can be” only to send them back to their regular lives and move on to the next batch of kids. This program is dedicated to filling these students with the serious, fundamental knowledge necessary to become professional engineers and scientists of the future. 

-Melanie Yvette Martin