12.01.2018 – Science Saturday: Sustainable Holiday Gift Making

Thank you for another great year of Science Saturdays. This year we served over 780 people at our Science Saturday events, with a wide range of themes such as geology, wildlife, water, and renewable energy. A huge thank you to all community members, interns, volunteers, and guest scientists for helping to make these events a success. We’ll see you next year at our next Science Saturday: Water, Ice, and Snow happening on January 5th, 2019.

With 68 wonderful people who attended December’s Science Saturday, Willow Bend had a sustainable gift-making extravaganza! Friends and family of all ages joined together in the creative spirit to get the holidays started on the right foot.

We had a number of fun crafts, like wood cookie and CD ornament decorating, along with pine cone creatures, bottle cap snowmen, and magazine collage card making. Oh! And we can’t forget the holiday bag and tag making, as to have a wonderful bag to put all of those hand-made gifts into. In addition, we created a display of alternative ways to wrap your gifts this year, using materials such as newspaper, an inside-out chip bag, or even an empty cereal box! We hope you had just as much fun as we did.

Science Saturday is an event held on the first Saturday of every month from 9am-1pm. Each month is focused on a different theme and each event offers fun and educational hands on activities.  Thanks to generous funding from the Flagstaff Arts Council and the City of Flagstaff BBB Revenues, this event is FREE and open to the public. No need to RSVP, you are welcome to join anytime between 9am-1pm.


Blog post written by Willow Bend interns Jill Wagner and Alyssa Eoff


11.15.18 Annual Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit


FLAGSTAFF, NOVEMBER 15th, 2018 – – – Get out your calendars! The 2nd Annual Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit will be held on April 16, 2019 at The Arboretum at Flagstaff. The Summit is a collaborative event with The Arboretum at Flagtstaff, City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program, and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center and will feature three challenges: the Climate Action Challenge, the KidWind Challenge, and the Solar Structure Challenge.

Each challenge is open to youth in 4th-12th grades 4-12 who form teams of 2-5 individuals and have an adult mentor. Teams can include youth from public schools, private schools, homeschool groups, afterschool groups, and community organizations (recreation or neighborhood centers, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Scout troops, etc). All teams who attend the Summit will compete for prizes and awards, attend workshops, and learn about climate action and sustainability in Flagstaff.

We are also offering support for challenge team leaders – teachers, informal educators, youth group leaders, parents, and other adult leaders. Join us for the Climate Change and Renewable Energy Teacher Workshop Jan 25th-26th – This two-day workshop will cover climate change and renewable energy curriculum, hands-on activities, teacher check-out kits, as well as useful information for those wanting to participate in the Annual Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit (including the Climate Action, KidWind, and Solar Structure Cchallenges). Information and activities are geared towards 4th-12th grades.

More information and to sign up visit: www.flagstaff.az.gov/YouthSummit

8.29.18 Annual 4th Grade Water Ethics Contest

The Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership (CPWP) in collaboration with Willow Bend Environmental Education Center invite 4th Grade classes throughout Northern Arizona to participate in our annual Water Ethic Contest!

In order to introduce children to the concept of the ethical use of water, we have been inviting 4th grade classes throughout the plateau to participate in a contest in which they demonstrate the principle of responsible water use through artwork and essays.

If your class would like to participate please read the Poster Contest Guidelines 2018andOfficial Contest Entry Form 2018.doc(student’s guardian signature required). Please send your submissions to Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff AZ 86001. Deadline is October 30th, 2018.

The Public Outreach Committee will choose a first, second and third place winner, based on essay and artwork. Classes to which the winning students belong will be treated to an in-class party, including a pizza party for the 1st place student, an ice-cream social for 2nd place, and a popcorn party for 3rd. The winning students will receive additional prizes and all participating classes will be rewarded with “water saver superhero tools.” All submissions may be used in promoting water stewardship throughout Northern Arizona. The teachers of the winning entries will receive a check for $300, $200, or $100.

The students’ artwork will also be utilized in posters as an opportunity to bring awareness to the variety of ways water is used, and provide examples of how conservation practices can save water. The posters are being distributed throughout Arizona in public restrooms, where a large amount of water is used. Places already signed up for the bathroom posters include: the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor’s Center, City of Flagstaff, City of Williams, Hopi Water Resources, Northern Arizona University, US Fish and Wildlife, AZ Dept. of Water Resources, AZ Dept. of Environmental Quality, Coconino County, City of Sedona, Marshall Elementary School, and many more places throughout the community are in the process of getting the posters.

For more information contact Moran Henn at moran@willowbendcenter.org, or call (928) 699-6109.


Karma Sushi 10% for Willow Bend Press Release

August 28, 2018

For immediate release

 “Good Karma Tuesday” benefits Willow Bend Environmental Education Center

 On Tuesday, September 11, Good Karma Tuesday will benefit the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center. Ten percent of all sales will be donated to support their mission of providing education outreach services that build environmental awareness and an ethic of responsible stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.

Willow Bend is Coconino County’s (and Flagstaff’s) only year-round full time Environmental Education Center. They serve over 18,000 students, teachers, residents, and visitors a year through award winning environmental programs including field trips, community events, workshops and more. They offer school programs at the K-12 levels and the college level, as well as teacher workshops and community programs.

To learn more about Willow Bend and what they do, visit www.willowbendcenter.org.

Karma Sushi Bar Grill serves sushi, ramen, grilled items and cocktails in a hip, casual setting, and is located at 6 East Route 66 in downtown Flagstaff. Karma is open Thursday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday – Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. For more information about the restaurant, visit karmaflagstaff.com or call 928-774-6100.


8/23/18 Annual Celebration – What an Event!

Wow! We are still trying to recover from yesterday’s amazing event.

The Willow Bend Annual Celebration, is our opportunity to recognize and thank our partners, funders, and volunteers, and an opportunity for our members and the community to come together and support environmental education.

Our fundraising goal for our Summer Appeal, which includes a mailed out membership drive and the Annual Celebration, is $5,000. This amount allows us to plan our fall programs and invest in supplies and materials needed for the entire school year.

Vice Board President, Michele James, and her family getting their picture taken with Rakudachan.

The event started with a light drizzle, which got us worried. We were afraid no one would show up. But by 5:05 pm people were already lining up to get their picture taken and meet Rakudachan, Flagstaff’s only camel! Rakudachan is 14 months old, and belongs to Board Member Eric Souders, who brought him to the event, as a special attraction. After all, you can’t get your picture taken with a baby camel everyday.

The line for Fratelli Pizza.

Fratelli Pizza set up under the ramada, and even the drizzle, which now turned into rain, didn’t keep people away from the delicious, oven fresh pizza served on site. Friends of Flagstaff’s Future provided reusable plates and cups, part of their Zero Waste Program, and we had composting stations, so no waste was generated during the event!

The kids activities, face painting, and live music was set up inside the Center, as well as tables full with beautiful and valuable donated items for the silent auction.  Auction items included massage gift certificates, art, restaurant gift cards, and antiques. We also had a raffle, which included lots of fun items, and a grand prize, a $150 value basket from the Flagstaff Community Market.







Willow Bend staff fro left to right: Moran Henn, Executive Director, Cassandra Roberts, Education Director, Melissa Eckstrom, Education and Outreach Assistant.

Eagle Scout vlunteer James Dorn, who helped establish the Monarch Butterfly Waystation and his award.

After everyone had enough to eat, socialize, bid on items, take pictures with the camel and buy raffle tickets, we all came inside for acknowledgements and thank you’s. Moran Henn, Willow Bend’s Executive Director, introduced the Center’s staff, board of directors, founding CNRCD board members and interns. We then took the time to thank all our amazing volunteers who make our work possible and help us reach our goals and achieve our mission. Each year, we then present certificates of appreciation to a selected number of volunteers who really went above and beyond! This year we acknowledged: Mike Masek, Mike Dechter, Daniel Foley, and Norm Lowe for sharing their skills, time and enthusiasm. Our MVM (Most Valuable Member) was Jack welch, and the Business Partner of the Year went to Findley Toyota. We also presented a special certificate to Fratelli Pizza for sponsoring our dinner for the second year in a row.

But Henn was not the only one with a surprise that evening. BLE (Best Life Ever) Flagstaff, a local organization dedicated to random acts of kindness and making a difference in people’s lives, had one too! They had contacted the Willow Bend staff earlier in the week, asking if they can attend the event and present a small gift for Willow Bend’s efforts. No one had suspected that the humble gift was a $10,000(!!!) check!

You can read all about BLE and their gift in the AZ Daily Sun article, covering the event.


A very surprised (and happy) Henn shared all the wonderful things Willow Bend can do with this sort of support.

Board President Ariel Leonard ended the presentations part of the evening, thanking everyone for their support, and urging them to continue their involvement with Willow Bend. With only a little time left till the end of the evening, everyone got to enjoy ice cream, finish bidding on silent auction items, and hope they win the Community Market Basket as the number were drawn.


The event was a HUGE success! Thank you to everyone who attended, donated, volunteered, and supported! We are excited to announce that we have reached and far exceeded our $5,000 goal and we are looking forward to seeing you in the classroom, on the trails, or at the Center during one of our programs or events!





Back West Celebration of Stone Balancing

Flagstaff Arts Council and Willow Bend Environmental Center are pleased to announce the Annual Back West Celebration of Stone Balancing. The art of stone balancing involves working with different stones and their surface to get them to balance on one another in intriguing ways. Back West Celebration of Stone Balancing is a three day event, taking place between Sep 21st-23rd,  with demonstrations from experienced stone balancers as well as opportunities for the general public to observe, learn, and participate.

This year’s celebration will kick-off with a meet and greet, short demonstrations, and reception outside Criollo on Friday, Sep 21st from 3-6pm. Then, on Saturday, Sep 22nd from 9am-4pm, Willow Bend will host an educational presentation followed by ongoing Stone Balance artist demonstrations and hands on activities for the community.  A Stone Balancing art exhibition with painting and photography from multiple artists is featured in the center and the closing reception for the exhibit will take place from 2-4pm with live music and catered refreshments. The community event is free and open to the public.

On Sunday, Sep 23rd from 9am-12pm the Coconino Center for the Arts will host a workshop for those wanting to learn more.  The workshop will include a video presentation by Michael Grab, a discussion on the aesthetics of Stone Balancing and the place and time for stone balances in nature by local artist and landscape designer, Pieter Schaafsma, and demonstrations of different stone balancing techniques by four expert stone balancing artists, Simone Campisano, Peter Juhl, Bob Bernal and Douglass Case. Following the theater presentations, participants will have the opportunity to go outside for hands on learning and practice, based on the styles and techniques learned from the experts.  Workshop registration fee is $25/participant or $15 for Flagstaff Arts Council and Willow Bend Members and for students. Register online and secure your spot!

Thank You Holly!

Our amazing board member, Holly Taylor, is leaving the board after serving for many years in various positions and roles (board president, treasurer, secretary, volunteer bookkeeper, and financial committee chair). We truly can’t thank Holly enough for everything that she has done for Willow Bend! Holly was born in Washington, DC and grew up in in Durham, NC. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in economics. She worked for the federal government and the City of Atlanta as a budget analyst. She then worked for her husband’s architectural firm for 12 years, before they retired and moved to Flagstaff in 1997. In addition to part-time work as a bookkeeper/administrative assistant at several places in Flagstaff, she has been involved with various non-profits, helping with building projects, and serving on boards for Literacy Volunteers of Coconino County, Flagstaff Arts Council, and, of course, Willow Bend. Holly promised that even though she won’t serve on the board, she will continue volunteering with us. Thank you Holly!



Summer Appeal! SUPPORT Environmental Education

July 1st, 2018

Today marks the first day of our new fiscal year! Which means we are  busy planning and preparing our 2018/2019 school and community programs. Please consider making a donation during our Summer Appeal (July-August 2018) and help us reach our $5,000 fundraising goal.

Your support will help us reach more students, organize more community events, and serve more teachers. With little funding for education, especially environmental education, your donation makes a big difference.

Become a member or renew your membership and receive discounts and free access to our adult workshops, family science events and more, make a one-time Summer Appeal donation , or become a business sponsor and support us during this important time.

Willow Bend is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and your donation is tax deductible. Support local, award winning environmental education TODAY!

5/28/18 Volunteer Weekend at Willow Bend

Wow, what a weekend.

Almost a hundred volunteers helped at the Willow Bend gardens on Memorial Day weekend.

On Saturday, volunteers focused on enhancing wildlife habitat by adding pollinator plants, bird feeders, and bat boxes. Volunteers from American Conservation Experience, bird lovers, and members from the Friends of the Willow Bend Gardens worked for over 3 hours making and placing beautiful bird feeders, butterfly puddlers, and at houses. They trimmed the willows by the pond, and planted milkweed and other pollinator friendly plants.






Then, on Sunday, volunteers from Sathya Sai International Organization who were attending their annual meeting at NAU, prepared the gardens for the summer. They removed invasive plants, took out old signs, turned the soil, planted, and collected litter along the trail and the gardens.

Special thanks to the Friends of the Willow Bend Gardens volunteer group for organizing these efforts!

5/23/18 Important Recycling Updates

We have some important updates about plastics recycling in Flagstaff:

Plastics recycling in Flagstaff is changing and you will no longer be able to recycle certain types of plastics in your curbside recycling bin. Until now, we have been able to recycle all types of plastic, numbers 1-7, as long as they were rigid.

As of June 1st, 2018, the only types of plastic that will be accepted for recycling are numbers 1 and 2 with a focus on on plastic bottles, jars and jugs.

These changes stem from changes in the national and international recycling market. The recycling market has been significantly impacted due to the Chinese government no longer accepting certain types of recyclables as imports. Until recently, China has accepted roughly half of the world’s plastic and paper recyclables. The sudden ban on much of these materials has sent international markets for recyclables into a tailspin.

Norton Environmental, the company responsible for sorting and selling Flagstaff’s recyclables, has been unable to find buyers for these types of plastic. Flagstaff is not alone, as many other communities around the country have been forced to remove items from their acceptable materials list or send significant amounts of formerly recyclable materials to the landfill.

What can we all do?

While this recent decision by China to ban certain types of recyclables was sudden, it is the result of a long-term and growing problem of material consumption and contamination in the world’s recycling stream. Despite the fact that people are putting more recyclables in their recycling bins, they have also been increasingly placing more non-recyclable items into their bin. This is known as “wishful recycling,” which actually makes it more difficult and costly to process recyclable items. The end result is that more recyclable items get sent to the landfill as contamination.

These changes provide an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the purpose of recycling. Recycling reduces the demand on natural resources, lowers the energy needed to create the products we use daily, and saves valuable landfill space. While it can feel good to put all of our trash in the recycling bin, doing so negates the benefits of recycling.

To realize the benefits of recycling, only the correct types of plastics can be recycled – wishful recycling must stop. Going forward, focus on recycling your plastic bottles, jugs, and jars. This includes beverage, toiletry, and soap bottles, as well as milk jugs and peanut butter jars (just make sure they are clear of any food). Bags, wraps, take-out containers, and produce containers are NOT recyclable.

Make sure to keep recycling your cardboard, paper, and cans. While you’re at it, touch up on recycling basics by visiting our online recycling guide at www.recyclebycity.com/flagstaff.

The best thing that we can do is to reduce single use items (especially plastics) and choose durable and reusable items. Avoid throwing items in either your recycling or trash bin.

Don’t forget to bring your own reusable mug or carry a reusable water bottle or shopping bag with you on the go. Find out what you can do to prevent waste by visiting www.flagstaff.az.gov/BYO.

To find out what the City is doing to reduce the impacts of Flagstaff’s waste and consumption, visit http://flagstaff.az.gov/3361/Waste or contact our Zero Waste Coordinator at 928-213-2158 or dlenzen@flagstaffaz.gov.

To learn more join us on a tour of the recycling center, every first Friday at 1pm.