Teen interns at PVPLC

Four students in a career program completed 400 hours in a paid internship this summer with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. All residents of Hawthorne and recent graduates of Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, the students each took three buses to get to various restoration sites where they assisted in maintaining various habitats while being exposed to potential future careers in the fields of ecology, native landscapes and nature education. From left are Yorvelith Tapia, Johnesha Ziegler, Tomayah Mayo and Leon Mrosk. The career program was sponsored by the South Bay Workforce Investment Board.  (Courtesy Photo)

From nurturing the native plants that support an endangered blue butterfly to learning how to spot a California gnatcatcher, four Hawthorne teens this summer got a peek at some future conservationist careers they may not have considered before.

All thanks to a new intern partnership with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.

The interns, all recent graduates of Leuzinger High School, in Lawndale, completed 100 hours each during the paid internship, which ended Friday, July 26. It was the first partnership between the sponsoring South Bay Workforce program and the conservancy.

“I’d say we’re probably the only opportunity for students to get out to learn about native plants and the ecology,” said Adrienne Mohan, executive director of the conservancy, “and actually put into practice the work of landscape restoration.”

The program, which began in June, worked out well for both sides, as the students received exposure to potential college majors in the fields of ecology, native landscapes and nature education.

“Conservation as a field is growing,” Mohan said. “We’re all becoming more aware of our human impacts on the environment.”

Environment-related majors are much more prominent now than even 15 years ago, she said, with schools now actively recruiting students for those disciplines.

The interns — Tomayah Mayo, Johnesha Ziegler, Leon Mrosk and Yorvelith Tapia — each took three buses every day to get to the restoration sites to which they were assigned.

The conservancy trained them to care for the coastal sage scrub habitat that hosts the El Segundo blue butterfly and the California gnatcatcher.

And that wasn’t all.

The summer tasks offered the students plenty of opportunity to get their hands dirty.

“The native plant demonstration garden at the White Point Nature Preserve (in San Pedro), “Mohan said, “has never looked better than now.”

The teens learned to care for the native plants at the White Point Preserve, on Paseo del Mar; removed invasive weeds at Lunada Canyon, in Rancho Palos Verdes; and spent hours working at the native plant nursery, located on the former Navy Fuel Depot site, in San Pedro, where 20,000 plants are being prepared for planting in the fall at the Abalone Cove restoration site, in Rancho Palos Verdes.

The conservancy, Mohan said, plans to continue the summer partnership with more South Bay Workforce interns in the future.

“It worked out well,” she said.

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