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Environmental Students Work to Oust Invaders

Santa Cruz Island is about an hour by boat from the coast of Southern California. Santa Cruz was used for ranching in the 19th and 20th centuries. Now, students are helping bring wetlands back to the island. Irene Bailey works with the students. She says people brought invasive species to the island. This changed its environment.

IRENE BAILEY: "So we're trying to get the invasives, you know, removed from here and then plant in native grasses and other native vegetation that will be good for, you know, the plant community and the birds and stuff that are coming in." The students attend the Environmental Charter High School near Los Angeles. They are taking part in a national program called LEAF -- Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future. The Nature Conservancy operates the program. Keira Adams says the girls are learning about nature.

KEIRA ADAMS: "Like sometimes we will drive through a path and it feels like the Amazon, and then it will feel like the desert, and then it will feel like a tropical rain forest. Or then it'll feel like just a natural forest. So it is very interesting going through this island and feeling different types of environments." Glenda Sanchez says some students are considering careers in environmental work.

GLENDA SANCHEZ: "I think our generation, where we're learning more about the environment, is crucial 'cause now we learned about it and we know what are the problems, so now we need to find a solution for them." Sharon Tam says the program helps the students learn to work with others. SHARON TAM: "Cause we are with, like, people that we're not, normally not familiar with. And then we're living together. And we have to deal with each other every day, so, like communication became really important." The students were able to explore the island for four weeks, an island so close, yet so far, from the city in which they live.