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Migration and Adaptation In the Americas
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Giving and Volunteering

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Student Success Story at Yale

Read here: Student’s environmental concerns earn him a ‘Leader of the Future’ award

Cesar Garcia Lopez at work in the vertebrate zoology collection at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. 

As a volunteer last year for the New Haven Science Fair, Yale junior Cesar Garcia Lopez traveled periodically with first-graders to the Quinnipiac Meadows Eugene B. Fargeorge Preserve in New Haven to explore the biodiversity of the salt marsh. The students he mentored from Conte West Hills Magnet School won a first-place prize in the fair’s biological sciences category for their research on the habitats of snails in the marsh.

“It was cool to bring them out to the salt marsh,” says Garcia Lopez. “A lot of the students live nearby but had never been there. They were really excited about it.”

This year, he is again teaming up with Conte School first-graders to help them discover how the biodiversity of that same salt marsh compares with that of a local park, along the way sharing with them the reasons it is important “to preserve ecosystems in their natural state,” he says. The students’ research will be part of this year’s citywide science fair. 

For his efforts to inspire others about environmental conservation, particularly ocean conservation, Garcia Lopez received a Lider del Futuro (Leader of the Future) Award from Monterey Bay Aquarium in California during its annual Fiesta del Mar celebration on Oct. 18. The award honors an individual of “the next generation who will be responsible for the administration of our oceans,” according to the aquarium. 

The Yale student, who is majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, recently spoke with YaleNews about his interest in environmental conservation. Here is what we learned (continued)