Students find ‘Green’ summer jobs

High school student Yangtsel Sherap from Elmhurst and 51 other students from around the city are preparing for careers in the “green” sector.

Sherap was chosen to participate in The Nature Conservancy’s paid summer environmental education program, Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF). The program aims to reconnect young urban people with nature.

“I am looking forward to the experience of being away from home because I never went to camp,” Sherap said.

As one of 52 interns, Sherap will spend three weeks in Lubberland Creek Preserve, New Hampshire applying the knowledge she learned in the classroom by maintaining trails, building bog bridges among other duties. She will get paid $9 an hour and work 35-hour a week.

Sherap, who will be a junior at High School for Environmental Studies in Manhattan in this fall, aspires to go to Yale, become a doctor, and work for Doctors Without Borders or open her own clinic in India. Sherap was her desire to help people in need in any way possible.

“Help – it doesn’t matter in what form you give it, because everyone needs it,

said Sherap, who is Sherpa, Tibetan and Nepali, but she was born in India.

But the young Elmhurst resident is not the first member of the Queens community to benefit from the LEAF program. Ann-Marie Alcantara from Astoria also participated in the program. She said she always knew she wanted to be a journalist, but it was her participation in the LEAF program that sparked her enthusiasm about environmental issues.

In the summer of 2007, Alcantara traveled to Delaware Bayshores in New Jersey, where the interns patrolled the beaches of Cape May and protected the major resting place for the endangered migrating piping plover, a small sand-colored, sparrow-sized shorebird.

Now, Alcantara is a junior at Vassar College and wants to go into environmental journalism or work for a non-profit.

“There aren’t that many people who can translate scientific papers into accessible language for journalists,” said Ann-Marie, “so translating them into a simple language so people can see how their taxes are spent has become my life-goal.”

The LEAF program has been around for 16 years, but this year it received an $800,000 grant from the Toyota Foundation, which allowed the number of participating students to be doubled. The number of participating schools has also double to 7.

“There are a total of 10 high schools with environmental focus in New York City and about 30 in the country,” said Bridget, director of Youth Programs at The Nature Conservative. “It’s a part of the process of breaking down of large schools and making them more focused, in anticipation of the future green careers and the need to prepare the young children for them.”

Photo Courtesy of Brooke Grisebaum

Elmhurst resident Yangtsel Sherap with her classmates from the High School for Environmental Studies before leaving for their internships with Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF).


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