My name is Larrea Cottingham and I am the Climate and Energy VISTA at the City of Flagstaff through the Flagstaff STEM Education Project. In my role, I am working to expand the Sustainability Section’s outreach around climate and energy, both in schools and the community. I am currently working to develop a climate leadership academy for local high school students that will give students an opportunity to become more climate literate, and engage in place-based climate action and outreach at home, school and in their community. I am excited to work with community members and local organizations to create ambitious educational opportunities around climate and the environment for everyone in the Flagstaff community.
I moved to Flagstaff in 2014 to attend Northern Arizona University where I received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Arts in Teaching Science. Throughout college I played violin and viola in the NAU Symphony and Chamber Orchestra, and I still often play for the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. I am passionate about ecological conservation and outdoor education, and I am inspired to create a career that combines my love of exploring wild places and desire to protect them. I love to spend as much time outside as possible, so I have worked in wildlife biology and as an instructor at the Colorado Outward Bound School. I am always eager to plan the next big adventure, but in the meantime, I can be found exploring the mountains, rivers, and canyons.
My name is Nick Siskonen and I've lived in Flagstaff for over ten years. I originally moved to Sedona with my family in 1998, when I was seven years old. To people from Sedona, Flagstaff is the 'big city' you go to for weekend trips and exciting events. As a kid, Flagstaff meant adventure.
Then in 2007 my family moved to Flagstaff so I could attend Northland Preparatory Academy, sending me on a new academic adventure. After graduating high school, I attended our own Northern Arizona University and focused on psychology and criminal justice.
Since then, I have worked as an assistant in a real estate office for two years, but decided to follow in my older sister's footsteps of completing a year of service in the AmeriCorps VISTA program. The Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology (CAVIAT), is the Joint Technical Education District for Coconino County. I am now the Americorps VISTA at CAVIAT in charge of recruitment and marketing. Once again Flagstaff offers itself as a new adventure and I couldn't be more excited to see where it takes me!
Guest Blog Post by Vicki Anderson, VISTA Member, STEM Educator and Curriculum Developer at Flagstaff Bordertown Dormitory
Kinlani Flagstaff Bordertown Dormitory has a Robotics/AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)/STEM Club with 15 members so far! They are making robots with our Lego Robotics Coach-Mentor Larry Marek. They began using the NAU Cline Library MakerLab on September 14th with Bryan Johnson, the Tech Services Coordinator. Club members will learn TinkerCAD to use NAU’s 3D printer for their Engineering STEM Challenges prototypes.
On September 9th, nine high school students participated in an Indigenous Youth STEM Academy with the Flagstaff Open Space Program. This program aims to connect Indigenous youth with cultural and natural resources at Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve. The Preserve provides a unique opportunity for learning about the connection between culture, community, and stewardship as it is home to Northern Sinagua petroglyphs and habitation sites, and represents a place of cultural importance for many surrounding tribal communities. Each session encompasses a full day of activities, including an interpretive tour of the Preserve, a lunch panel discussion with local STEM professionals and students, and a hands-on service-learning project. This program is organized by STEM VISTA Member Erin O'Keefe.
STEM Engineering Challenges competitions are also open to all students biweekly. All STEM activities are coordinated by AmeriCorps VISTA educator Vicki Anderson, and our motivated FBD staff. As you can see, we are “steaming” ahead in our STEM Education projects!
The students attended the Flagstaff Festival of Science “Engineering Solutions” kick off with keynote speaker Kyle Maynard on September 22nd at NAU’s Ardrey Auditorium. He was born without a complete set of arms and legs. With engineering solutions from Kahtoola, a Flagstaff company, and serious determination, he has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mt. Aconcagua in South America.
Get out for some of the 100 free events at the 28th Annual Flagstaff Festival of Science and you will see the Kinlani STEM students!
Dawn Pfeffer, Killip STEM Academy, STEM Curriculum
I graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. I fell in love with Flagstaff when my environmental engineering design teams traveled here in 2014 and 2015 and I knew then that I wanted to move here. When I graduated in May of 2015, I worked at an automation company called Rovisys in Ohio for two years. I was a Lead Systems Engineer for various customers and industries. In April of 2017 I was finally able to make my move to Flagstaff and I couldn’t be happier.
I spent my first four months in Flagstaff working on a trail maintenance crew with Arizona Conservation Corps, an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I got to know the people and places that surround Flagstaff and it deepened my love for this amazing city. At the end of those four months I wanted to use my skills as an engineer to help this community grow, so I applied to the AmeriCorps VISTA position at Killip Elementary. I will build and modify the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) curriculum to better prepare students for the years to come. This is yet another experience that I will cherish forever. I am dedicated to the Flagstaff community and I consider this place my home, so please say hello to me; I would love to meet you!
Guest Blog Post by Dawn Pfeffer, STEM VISTA at W.F. Killip Elementary
The fifth graders at W.F. Killip Elementary are hard at it again! They are learning the interactions between the Earth's systems (hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and geosphere) and will use this knowledge to develop local Flagstaff solutions to mitigate the effects of a warming climate. The students of Tracy Blahut, Katie Krause and Brenda Emry took a field trip to Upper Lake Mary on August 31st and met with community scientists working for the Grand Canyon Trust, Lake Mary Water Treatment Plant, and the City of Flagstaff Water Services Department. Each presentation engaged the students and then asked a very important question: How will climate change affect the Earth Systems in Flagstaff, Arizona? Students were eager to answer with the ideas of droughts, heavy storms, erosion, less snowfall, and changing biological food chains.
Tamara Lawless and Erin Young from the City of Flagstaff Water Services Department tag-teamed the discussion on Hydrospheres like Lake Mary, which contains over 300,000 gallons of water!
Meteorologist Lee Born described the atmosphere as “the beginning of it all” in the cycle of life; no life would exist on Earth without the specific atmosphere we have.
Felix Parham, a geologist with the Lake Mary Water Treatment Facility, explained how a fault in the Earth’s crust caused Lake Mary to be “bathtub shaped”, perfect for containing water. He also described the different rock types in Flagstaff.
Lisa Winters, the Citizen Science Coordinator for the Grand Canyon Trust, played a game with students to show them the effects of climate change, asking them to sit down when the living species they were assigned could no longer survive in the situations described.
The students continued their learning with additional information from Anthony John (AJ) Garnello, a doctoral candidate at Northern Arizona University, who visited the Killip STEM Lab on September 8th.
AJ focused his presentation on the effects of climate change in the Southwest: the increasing duration of droughts (both snow and rain), longer and hotter heat waves, increasing risks of wildfires both in occurrence and intensity, a higher risk of insect infestations, and the likely reduction of agricultural yield. He explained the increased risk of intense storms, monsoons and hurricanes throughout the world. These changes in weather force the migration of many organisms to new parts of Earth.
Carbon dioxide and methane (potent greenhouse gases) are the most likely cause of these global changes through our use of fossil fuels (natural gas, gasoline, oil, etc.) and livestock. He ended his presentation by asking the students: “What can we do here in Flagstaff to reduce our carbon footprint and try to minimize the effects of climate change?”
We can’t wait to hear what solutions these brilliant minds propose over the next few weeks!
Thank you to everyone that participated in the field trip, and to AJ Garnello for his presentation. W.F. Killip Elementary and the Flagstaff community cannot wait to see what solutions these inspired fifth graders develop!