Healthy Trees

Hugging a tree probably won’t improve its health too much, but come join us to learn what will! The first in our series of programs and presentations about tree maintenance education is set for Saturday, March 29, from 9am-12pm. The “Tree Care and Maintenance Workshop” will be presented by two local experts: Mick Henry of Mick’s Tree Service, and Tom Hanecak, Maintenance & Operations Manager for Coconino County Parks & Recreation. Both are ISA certified arborists and will be sharing their tips as they lead the group through the demonstration site that surrounds Willow Bend – Sawmill County Park. There is a wide variety of trees in the Park, and after a walking preview of the program with the arborists, we know that there will be plenty to talk about. In this hands-on guided tour you will learn about planting the right tree in the right place, ideas for mulching, how and when to prune, common pests and diseases that affect our northern Arizona trees, watering and much more. Sign up here and be sure to bring a friend, a snack and some water!IMG_1123

The presentation is just one component of our project supported by a grant through the Arizona Forestry Division’s Community Challenge Grant Program with funds from the USDA Forest Service. We’ll also be building a mulched terrace on the slope below Willow Bend with help from our friends at the American Conservation Experience. We will redirect rainwater from storage tank overflow into a terrace showing how a properly mulched and graded terrace can be used by native vegetation to absorb excess rainwater and aid in its infiltration into the soils. This will be another aspect of our building and site that helps us continue to serve as a demonstration area for community education. The idea for this comes right out of a fabulous book by Brad Lancaster (more on Brad’s upcoming visit to Willow Bend for a fundraising presentation on May 17th coming soon, so stay tuned…registration and tickets will be available soon!)

Part 3 of the project will be a new portable display about the trees of the Flagstaff region including tree cookies, borings, and information about each tree’s habitat and health issues. Willow Bend’s AmeriCorps volunteer Joe Zofrea is designing the display and receiving some generous and most welcome assistance with samples and technical info from our friends at the Rocky Mountain Research Station. This will be a great component for the many family friendly community events we attend.

This past summer the forests of northern Arizona experienced an event that has not occurred since 1919 – a wide-spread ponderosa pine seedling regeneration. Triggered by a heavy cone drop in the fall of 2012 and an unusually wet summer in 2013, some areas of the forest were covered with 1-2 inch seedlings. Our final program will feature NAU Forestry professor Tom Kolb who will come to Willow Bend to talk about this unusual event. We’ll take a short walk from Willow Bend and look for these little saplings and discuss the importance of mitigation before they get too big!

Eagles

The Family Science Series at Willow Bend is an important part of our educational strategy: involving parents is key to a successful education system. Plus, family learning is fun and effective. Parents enjoy seeing their children find something that excites them, and kids learn what is important by seeing what their parents find interesting.

Our Eagles program a few weeks ago was full to capacity and is a great example of how our Family Science programs work. We are lucky to have great partners to work with that make these programs possible: a big thank-you to the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Liberty Wildlife, and to Mountain Sports-Flagstaff – our series sponsor. To see what happens at a Family Science event at Willow Bend, check out this great video produced by the Arizona Game and Fish Department about our Eagles Event:

Our next Family Science event is “Arizona Animals” on Saturday, March 8th from 10-11:30 PM. Learn more and sign-up here: willowbendcenter.org/public-programs_family-science.html

Kids Holiday Gift Making Event

Join us at Willow Bend Environmental Center From 10:00am to 2:00pm December 7th.

Need holiday gift ideas? Join Willow Bend as we make fun holiday gifts out of reusable materieals. Linda Kranz will be showing us how to make amazing rock paintings just like in her books. We will also have a few other fun gift making projects. Supplies are provided. Drop in event-No reservation needed.This event is free but a $5 donation is gladly accepted. Brought to you by Mountain Sports.

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Voice Your Choice For Willow Bend

Voice Your ChoiceMountain Sports-Flagstaff is doing it again! As a member of 1% For The Planet, Mountain Sports grants one percent of sales to local environmental and conservation organizations through the Voice Your Choice event and Willow Bend is honored to have been selected to participate. Come on down to Mountain Sports November 1st through the 15th and cast your vote for Willow Bend (you get one vote per customer, per day. No purchase is necessary).  Please help show your appreciation by visiting Mountain Sports and voting, and sharing this through social media.

 

 

Sustainable Building Tour

This Saturday, October 12 from 10 am until 2 pm, is the 2013 Sustainable Building and Creative Spaces Tour!  It all begins at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center where tour-goers can pick up a packet and map showing all the stops on the self-guided tour.  These local places showcase sustainable and innovative approaches at home and in the community.

Sustainable Tour

The tour is put together by The Coconino County Sustainable Building Program in partnership with the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program, The Northern AZ Branch of the USGBC, and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.

Some of the features on the tour that you can learn about include:

Adobe & Strawbale Construction
Solar Thermal-Hot Water
Insulated Concrete Forms
Rainwater/Greywater Reuse
Xeriscaping/Gardens
Accessory Dwelling Unit
Passive Solar Design
Solar Electric-Photovoltaics (PV)
Community Enhancement
Environmental Education

At each stop you’ll have a chance to talk with the homeowner, or representative of the location to discuss its unique features.  Hope to see you on Saturday!!

 

Supporter Spotlight – The Wildland Trekking Company

“TOUCHING PEOPLE’S LIVES IN A POSITIVE WAY”

“We believe that philanthropy brings good karma” Brad Ball explained after his company made the largest unrestricted gift ever received by Willow Bend. Brad and his partners, brothers Steve and Scott Cundy, started The Wildland Trekking Company in 2005. This summer they hired 13 new people expanding their business to 65 employees. The business specializes in guided backcountry hiking tours, as well as lodge-based and camp-based hiking tours. They offer trips in national parks such as Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and throughout the Colorado Plateau including Zion, Bryce, Glen Canyon, and the Grand Canyon, which is their most popular destination.

Brad Ball stands in front of one his company’s fleet vehicles.  The Wildland Trekking Company supports Willow Bend because of our focus on children and environmental education.  Brad said that he and his partners “believe in the power of individuals and small organizations in making change and having an impact.”

Brad Ball stands in front of one his company’s fleet vehicles. The Wildland Trekking Company supports Willow Bend because of our focus on children and environmental education. Brad said that he and his partners “believe in the power of individuals and small organizations in making change and having an impact.”

The business was originally based out of Brad’s garage; expanding to the “shed-stage” as Brad described it, “was a major milestone.” After 5 years of over 100% growth, in 2010 they moved into their current location, a warehouse on Huntington Drive.

“One of the keys to our success is the lateral communication we encourage from the staff. We surround ourselves with the very best people we can find.” The three partners also have different perspectives on the business and “that helps us make successful decisions.” Brad and Steve met while working for the New Mexico State Forestry Department. Previously, Brad had 10 years of mountaineering experience as an instructor at NOLS. Scott was an English major and was working as a motivational speaker for Klemmer and Associates before the partnership. All three are true outdoorsman and share a love and passion for the mountains. Flagstaff and Willow Bend are fortunate to benefit from their success and commitment to our community.

For more articles, please see our complete Annual Report for FY 2012-2013

Bring Your Weeds to Willow Bend

Invasive Weeds2This Saturday, August 17, please join Scott Harger at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center for a noxious weed identification session from 2-4 pm.

With the incredibly wet July we had here in northern Arizona, the forests, neighborhoods, and roadsides are bursting with beautiful native wildflowers…and invasive weeds!  How can you tell which is which?  Take a picture, or dig one up and bring your weed to Willow Bend.

Harger, a Range Conservationist at the Coconino Natural Resource Conservation District, also serves as a Coordinator for the San Francisco Peaks Weed Management Area.  He will have posters and samples of noxious weeds from the area and will provide advice on management.  Drop in anytime between 2 and 4 pm.

The Five Points Project

One of our founders was Jim David – a high-school biology teacher in Flagstaff.  From the beginning, classroom programs about environmental education have been our focus.  With many different programs to choose from and dozens of kits, we complement teachers’ lessons with specific areas of expertise as requested.  Continuing in this tradition, we recently completed the Five Points Project.

The Five Points Project incorporated 5 major components of environmental education: standards-aligned classroom programs, outdoor field experiences, training for teachers, service learning projects, and family science events. The underlying theme of the project was wildlife habitat restoration and resource conservation.

Students at Knoles Elementary School take a break from trail building activities.  As part of the 5-Points project, Willow Bend worked with volunteers from the American Conservation Experience (ACE) to build a nature trail and outdoor classroom on the school grounds.

Students at Knoles Elementary School take a break from trail building activities. As part of the 5-Points project, Willow Bend worked with volunteers from the American Conservation Experience (ACE) to build a nature trail and outdoor classroom on the school grounds.

First, we visited the classrooms to provide lessons on habitats and biodiversity, forest ecology, animal and plant structure and human interactions with the environment. Using the school grounds as an outdoor classroom, we created micro-habitats, hunted for animal scat and sign, and discussed how we could improve the school yard habitat.

At one school we started by working in the school garden developing micro-habitats for a variety of animals and plants. This linked in with a much larger project through Terra BIRDS – an organization specializing in school gardens. In another school the students researched local birds, made bird feeders from recycled materials, and hung bird feeders in the school grounds. At a third school, students constructed a new trail, built “insect hotels” to welcome small wildlife, and created animal books with poetry and artwork on local animals that may be seen close to the school.

The children had incredible fun building trails, starting a garden, exploring their school yards, writing field guides for wildlife found near the school yard, and creating beautiful art work and poetry.  And, they learned valuable lessons:
“You made us all realize we can help.”

The project included a lesson where the children made art work re-using materials, and then wrote poems about their animal.

The project included a lesson where the children made art work re-using materials, and then wrote poems about their animal.

The project was funded through a grant from the Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund, and administered through the Office of the Coconino County Superintendent of Schools.

– Cassandra Roberts, Willow Bend Program Manager

Please see our recently completed Annual Report for additional articles.