GEORGETOWN, KENTUCKY, (July 25, 2013) — On July 25th, The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) interns visited Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) in Georgetown. During July, the Conservancy is hosting three interns sponsored by the nationally-acclaimed program, currently in its 19th year of operation, for the first time.
“While it may seem odd for our environmental interns to be visiting a local manufacturing plant, it is an appropriate activity for these young women since the company is a premier supporting sponsor of the LEAF program,” says Terry Cook, the Conservancy’s State Director in Kentucky.
In March, the Toyota USA Foundation announced a $4 million grant over the next two years to support the expansion of this successful youth program.
“At Toyota, we believe every student should have the opportunity to go places,” said Wil James, TMMK president. “The LEAF program is providing that opportunity for our students, while ushering in a new generation of environmental stewardship. That’s a story we’re proud to be part of.”
During their half-day visit to TMMK, the LEAF interns will tour the Georgetown-based plant, Toyota’s largest in North America, and spend time learning about the company’s environmental programs. According to Cook, the visit provides the interns with another important aspect of the organization’s work – corporate partnerships.
“Many of our nature preserves require specific management strategies to ensure healthy habitats which can support the needs of wildlife and people,” said Cook. “TMMK’s commitment to Kentucky’s natural landscape has given us the ability to pursue these strategies in order to achieve many of our goals in recent years.”
Since 1988, TMMK has donated over $230,000 to support conservation activities specifically in Kentucky, including:
“Without Toyota’s support, I wouldn’t have had the chance to visit Kentucky’s caves and learn about the white nose syndrome threatening bats,” said Sierra Beasely, one of the three LEAF interns visiting Kentucky from Georgia, where she is on the engineering track at Arabia Mountain High School.
Like Sierra, fellow intern Dondra Fergerson appreciates Toyota’s cooperation with the LEAF program, adding that she may never look at a plant in the same way after learning to identify and remove invasive weeds and replace them with native species – information she plans to use and share back in Georgia where she maintains a steady 4.026 grade point average. “It really opened my eyes,” said Fergerson.
Kiara Knight echoes sentiments expressed by her fellow LEAF interns helping the Conservancy in Kentucky this summer, “I really appreciate Toyota’s donation as it has to be expensive to send us around Kentucky to learn about all the facets of conservation work, including grant writing, conservation easements, lobbying and working like corporations like Toyota. It has been a great experience.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
About the Toyota USA Foundation
The Toyota USA Foundation is a $100 million charitable endowment created to support education programs serving kindergarten through 12th grade students and their teachers in the United States, with an emphasis on mathematics, science and environmental science. For additional information about the Toyota USA Foundation, visit www.toyota.com/foundation.
About Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.
Toyota’s largest plant in North America, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) started production in May 1988. The Georgetown, Ky. plant employs approximately 6,600 full time team members and represents a $6 billion investment. TMMK currently produces the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid and Venza as well as four-cylinder and V-6 engines and other engine components. Annual capacity is 500,000 vehicles and 600,000 engines. Since 1987, TMMK has donated more than $44 million to non-profit organizations throughout Kentucky.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.