• jungle trees

    Difference Maker Mentors

    10-month leadership positions for UConn undergraduate students. As Difference Maker Mentors, undergraduate students serve as program leaders of the CAP field experience and near-peer mentors to CAP teens.

About Difference Maker Mentors

Difference Maker Mentors are UConn undergraduate students passionate about...

  • Authentic community engagement
  • Culturally relevant environmental education and mentorship of teens
  • Environmental issues relevant to local communities

Difference Maker Mentors act as program leaders and near peer-mentors in our Conservation Ambassador Program. The goals of the NRCA DMM program are to:

  • Elevate diverse voices in CAP leadership
  • Support near-peer role models that promote teens’ STEM self efficacy and interests
  • Provide a pathway for CAP teens to continue their involvement in community conservation in a leadership capacity

    DMM Pathway

    The four elements below comprise the Difference Maker Mentor pathway.


    DMMs begin by enrolling in a 1-credit course that includes topics on instinctual leadership, authentic community engagement, culturally-relevant environmental education, trauma-informed mentorship approaches, and conservation issues relevant to CT communities.


    DMMs then put their course skills and knowledge into action by co-facilitating the summer CAP field experience under the guidance of NRCA faculty and graduate student. DMMs help with CAP logistics, support CAP instructors, lead a subgroup of CAP teens, and lead 1-2 activities.


    Following the CAP field experience, each DMM helps a small group of high school students as they design, develop and implement a local environmental action tailored to their interests and community needs. DMMs co-mentor teens from July to March along with an adult community partner.


    DMMs help their CAP mentees prepare for and present their local environmental action projects at a showcase event each spring. This is typically done as part of a professional conference, making it an excellent learning and networking experience for both the teens and DMMs.

    group session

    Upcoming Events

    Date Event
    May 13, 2022 Application Due

    Complete this short online application

    May 20, 2022 Applicants Notified of Acceptance

    Sent to your email used in application

    June 1, 2022 Enrollment Forms Due

    Mailed to your address used in application

    Current DMMs


    Natural Resources


    Molecular & Cellular Biology


    Ecology & Evolutionary Biology


    Economics & Environmental Studies


    Environmental Science & Environmental Policy

    Ready to Join?

    Our application period is currently closed, but consider applying to be a DMM with us next year.

    We'll be looking for undergrads from diverse majors who are interested in mentoring teens, collaboratively working on projects that benefit local communities and environments, and equity and inclusive practices.



    Past NRCA Interns and DMMs

    Difference Maker Mentors

    We piloted our Difference Maker Mentor program in 2021-22 and were lucky to work with four fantastic UConn undergraduate students over the course of 10 months. Each DMM worked with high school students in our Conservation Training Partnerships program and as teams, carried out local conservation projects. Our first cohort of DMMs also took the lead on a variety of other side projects and programs, including co-facilitating two Urban Forestry Workshops in collaboration with Keney Park Sustainability Project and creating resources and materials such as this Camera Trap Reference Guide.

    students stand in front of large ant sculpture  students at fair table

    Name Major Term
    Celine Agbotey Applied Mathematics June 2021-May 2022
    Michio Agresta Natural Resources, Human Rights & Spanish minor June 2021-May 2022
    Margaret Sanders Natural Resources, Human Rights minor June 2021-May 2022
    Caitlin Daddona Environmental Science June 2021-October 2022


    NRCA Student Leaders

    NRCA Student Leaders include UConn undergraduates who work on a variety of short-term and/or specific projects, including helping to prepare research manuscripts, co-designing future programs with community stakeholder input, and creating and organizing our database of participant conservation projects that now span 10 years.

    students in front of sign

    Name Major Term
    Abigail Bar Mathematics June 2022-August 2022
    Chelcy Htoo Human Development & Family Studies March 2022-August 2022
    Honore Munyaneza Health Care Management March 2022-May 2022
    Emma Morgan Natural Resources January 2022-May 2022
    Tamashi Hettiarachchi Education - Curriculum & Instruction January 2022-May 2022
    Sydney Collins Environmental Science June 2020-August 2020


    Difference Maker Interns

    Difference Maker Interns are NRCA alumni who are currently enrolled as UConn undergraduate students. Difference Maker Interns return to the Academy to help foster the NRCA experience for current students and contribute to NRCA program efforts. During the summer term, DMs serve as interns in the Conservation Ambassador Program's field experience. DMs work behind the scenes to make the field experience a success, support program activities, and aid in planning and execution. During the semester, they focus on participant engagement and science communication. DMs choose their focus area and contribute to significant initiatives, such as managing the NRCA's social media presence, creating multimedia content, communicating with current NRCA participants, and aiding in recruitment for NRCA programs.

    Name Major Term
    Margaret Sanders Natural Resources, Human Rights minor June 2020-May 2021
    Tianna Felder Business Management & Marketing September 2019-May 2021
    AJ Barthel Environmental Studies January 2020-May 2020
    Amanda Hernandez Statistics September 2019-December 2019
    Maggie Chafouleas Environmental Science & Journalism January 2019-August 2019
    Ricky Moore Natural Resources January 2019-August 2019
    Mari Cullerton Environmental Science June 2018-August 2018
    Jenique Blair New Media Studies June 2018-August 2018
    Hannah Curran Environmental Science September 2018-December 2018
    Kenechi Nkwo Human Development and Family Studies September 2018-December 2018


    Program Funding


    NRCA’s Difference Maker Mentors (DMM) program is currently supported by a generous 5-year donation from the original private family foundation and from a grant (WAMS-2021-38503-34817) from the USDA Women & Minorities in STEM Fields. Additional support was provided to Dr. Cisneros through the NAAEE CEE-Change Fellowship. a partnership between ee360 and Cedar Tree Foundation to support leadership and innovation in civics and environmental education across North America.

    Support future Difference Maker Mentors