Learning to Love Longleaf Along the Chattahoochee Fall Line
By Catherine Young, The Nature Conservancy, GLOBE Intern
The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) four-week residential internship program exposes students from environmental high schools to natural resources careers through hands-on conservation activities like invasive species removal, habitat restoration, and endangered species monitoring.
In summer 2016, three young women from Arabia Mountain High School in DeKalb County, Georgia learned about longleaf pine ecosystem monitoring with George Matusick, the Conservancy’s Chattahoochee Fall Line forest ecologist. The students used compasses and GPS as they measured and photographed longleaf research plots. The data they collected will help determine future stewardship needs for the areas surveyed.
“Before this summer, I didn’t know anything about longleaf pine,” said Dalean Thompson, LEAF intern and rising senior at Arabia. “Now I know how important they are to ecosystems in Georgia and beyond. It feels good to be a part of something bigger than me, and I’m excited to go home and make a difference for nature in my own community.”
The interns also traveled to Alabama to monitor tree health in urban areas, and they learned about the role forests play in freshwater protection while working in Atlanta.
LEAF students also visit colleges, manage a budget together, and participate in outdoor recreation activities during their internship.
Image 1: (l-r) LEAF mentor Anna Davis and interns Kristin Amadusun, Dalean Thompson and Nia Morrison taking a break on the truck tailgate at the Chattahoochee Fall Line Wildlife Management Area.