Guest post by Lisa Winters, formerly of Arizona Game and Fish, and presently a STEM VISTA Member with the Grand Canyon Trust
The best ten days of the year, the Flagstaff Festival of Science, is in full swing. And this year, we had the first BioBlitz at Francis Short Pond! Organized by Rocky Mountain Research Station, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, and Friends of the Rio de Flag, the BioBlitz was an opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public to work in collaboration with biologists, naturalists, and other scientists to complete a biological inventory of the plants, animals, and organisms that live in or near the pond.
Thanks to Lisa Winters, left, of Grand Canyon Trust, and Zack Zdinak, right, of Life Drawing and Education
Stations were set up around the pond that collected information about water quality, aquatic insects, birds, plants, and fish. Over 260 students from Marshall Elementary, Flagstaff Junior Academy, and Mount Elden Middle School measured the temperature and dissolved oxygen of the water, used microscopes to identify the aquatic invertebrates they caught, wandered the pond in search of common plants, used binoculars to spot ducks and red-winged blackbirds, fished for rainbow trout, and then pulled together what they learned by constructing a life cycle diagram of an organism of their choice. In the afternoon, many community members got the same chance to explore this unique ecosystem in their backyard while contributing to the survey data collection.
Photos show Alice patiently fishing, the excitement of the catch, and measuring for data prior to release!
Additional partners of the event include the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section, The Museum of Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon Trust, local illustrator Zack Zdinak, and more! The event was made possible through a generous grant from the National Geographic Education Foundation and the AZ Game and Fish Heritage Grant. Thank you all for the great contributions to citizen science and education in Flagstaff!
Guest Post by Elii Chapman, Flagstaff Junior Academy, Math and Science Educator and Garden Club Advisor
As the school year came to a conclusion last spring I learned about a fantastic funding possibility for our gardening project at Flagstaff Junior Academy: Flagstaff Neighborhood Sustainability Grants. Our project fits all aspects of the criteria sought:
At the time I wrote the project proposal there were some of these criterion that I did not fully anticipate meeting. Our existing project was a campus garden that had been funded by a grant from Western Growers Foundation. This garden project was built and used the first year by the Sustainability elective class for 5th and 6th grade students. The second year our Orchestra teacher, Mary Allison, certified in Permaculture, joined my science sessions to teach us the principles of Permaculture Systemic Theory. This year, I wanted to extend our growth season and the productivity of our garden project with the addition of a greenhouse. Mary Allison created a shopping list for the grant proposal to the Flagstaff Neighborhood Sustainability Commission. It was approved!
This year, we have an after-school garden club. It is open to all students, but comprised mainly of 5th grade female students and parents from a variety of grades. As the day approached to install the greenhouse, I had heard from one committed parent volunteer, Matt Young, who was bringing his professional builder knowledge and tools. The day before the big day, I heard from a 6th grade parent, Susie Jardine from American Conservation Experience that several newly arrived AmeriCorp members expressed interest in helping. Thank you to the following AmeriCorp Members who came to help:
Morgan Fiorina, Anna Buchanan, Emily Tanner , Selina Burnette, Daniel Brunner, Tristan Joseph , Victoria (Tori) Maurer, Stephany Gonzalez, and Brandon Martinez.
Our new greenhouse was complete that afternoon at 5:10pm! What an amazing day resulting in a fantastic educational resource. We will continue exploration of native plants and climate difference in the Common Garden system, and grow student knowledge of germination and cooperative plant relationships. Our Garden Club will likely grow now too in terms of age and gender!
Guest Post by Moran Henn, Executive Director,
Willow Bend Environmental Education Center
What better way to help celebrate Colorado River Days than kiss some fish!?
That’s just what some lucky kids (and a few brave parents) got to do
thanks to Colorado River Days’ Annual Fish and Watersheds Science Saturday
at Willow Bend event.
This free, all ages event focused on the importance of the Colorado River,
healthy watersheds, and native fish. Participants engaged in hands-on
activities organized by numerous event partners who came together to make
the event a great success.
Activities included making paper watersheds with the AZ Trail Association,
creating nature journals to record drawings and stamps of wildlife and
nature with the Sierra Club, watching the far reaching effects of water-flow
on a 3D terrain model and learning how long objects last in ecosystems
when left behind with Oak Creek Watershed Council, making origami boats
and rowing in a real river ducky with Grand Canyon Youth, learning about
the ecology of aquatic worms and snails with Friends of the Rio, seeing
the effects of rain on the watershed with Willow Bend, and the highlight
of the event... meeting live native fish up close and in person with the
USGS aquatic lab team. Over 4 species of native fish were on display,
including the Humpback Chub and Rainbow Trout.
The public experienced, in a fun and engaging way, just how important the Colorado River is, not just to Flagstaff, but to everyone who depends on healthy flowing rivers.
Information on other Colorado River Days activities can be found here, and consider subscribing to Willow Bend's newsletter to stay informed about upcoming Science Saturday programs and other events.