NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A special summer internship program has given New York City teenagers the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature, and they don’t have to go very far.

At first glance one might think that the high school students, hard at work in the woods, are miles away from the city.

“I forgot I was in the Bronx for a second,” Forest Project intern, Nasif Khan told CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes.

The students are actually in the woods of the Bronx, just north of the George Washington Bridge.

“It’s one of the few places it’s peaceful and quiet, and a lot of nature,” Forest Project intern, Jada Mendoza said.

The 10th, 11th, and 12th graders are part of the forest project, a 7-week paid internship at Wave Hill a public garden and cultural center in Riverdale.

“We want them to get enthusiastic about science,” Forest Project Manager, Barry Kogan explained.

The urban interns get their hands dirty in Wave Hill’s woods. They do everything from improving trails, to solving erosion problems, and removing invasive plants like wineberries.

“We’re just trying to get rid of it before it vines up the whole forest,” Khan explained.

The program isn’t just about working in the woods. The students take courses in mapping and environmental conservation at Lehman College. They also do academic work inside at Wave Hill.

The interns analyze the data that they collected in the forest and study how it changes over time.

Khan, 17, says the work is important even in a digital world.

“If we can’t take care of the Earth, the one thing that sustains life, what does that mean for us?” he said.

Getting into the program is competitive, there were 160 applicants for 40 spots.

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