Plants and Pollinators Workshop

Plants and Pollinators Workshop

Blog post by Jenny Skene, Willow Bend volunteer and workshop attendee

Which flowers should you plant to attract bats or avoid wasps? What are the main threats to pollinators and how can we help? Ever heard of nectar robbers, sentry milk vetch or hexose?

These were just a few of the topics covered in the plants and pollinators workshop held on Saturday, February 11th through a yearly winter partnership between Willow Bend and the Arboretum at Flagstaff.

Dr. Kris Haskins, Research Director from the Arboretum at Flagstaff, led the workshop and shared her expertise on pollinators, their natural history, human interference and what we can do with our gardens now to encourage them. Participants learned what nectar types and colors of flowers different pollinators prefer; dissected common flowers with toothpicks; and designed their own pollinator gardens with advice from experts.

Here’s a few fun facts from the workshop:

  • Different plants are pollinated by bats, bird, beetles, bees, spiders and mammals – even including one Australian marsupial that evolved together with its plants. Other methods include splashes of rain in the rainforest, a windy day or human intervention with a fine paintbrush.
  • Some pollinators can also be ‘nectar robbers’, animals that steal the nectar higher up the flower without serving their purpose by collecting the pollen lower down.
  • Bees, monarch butterflies and other pollinators have suffered dramatic population decrease in recent years due to conversion of wild land, pesticides and climate change – but there are lots of projects trying to reverse the trend, see some below.
  • Bats like white, cream and dull green flowers, birds like red and orange ones, while bees like most bright colors – blue, purple, pink and yellow flowers.
  • To attract and support more pollinators, try planting flowers of varying heights and flowers that bloom at different times of year. Make sure they are native plants (check out the Arboretum’s plant sales in the summer) and try adding other features to your garden, like a shallow water dish or fruit feeders. Even an old log can help!


And here’s a few fantastic projects you can get involved with:

Million Pollinator Gardens: Register your garden to be one of a million spaces to support pollinators.

Monarch Watch: Plant some of the native Flagstaff milkweed species (showy, horsetail, poison or antelope horns) and register your garden as a Monarch Waystation.

Pollinator Partnership: Work on your garden and join events for Pollinator Week 2017 from 19-25 June and check out the website for more tips on how to support pollinators in your area.

Xerces Society: Join the Xerces Society for invertebrate conservation and learn more about all the tiny life forms in your garden.

And don’t forget to check out the Arboretum at Flagstaff website for their upcoming events and summer plant sales, where they can advise you about local plants. If you’re interested in volunteering, their docent training program starts in March for 2017.

Dr Kris Dr. Kris H workshop plant disecting plants

Winter Tales Press Release

February 1st, 2017

For Immediate Release



Winter Tales: Family Event and Art Exhibition at Willow Bend

Flagstaff AZ— Willow Bend Environmental Education Center is inviting the community for a fun and interactive celebration of winter this Saturday, February 4th from 9am-1pm. The event is part of Willow Bend’s monthly Science Saturday program, occurring on the first Saturday of every month. But this month, in addition to hands on activities and experiments, Willow Bend will be hosting the Jones Benally Family and an opening reception for the Winter Tales Art Exhibition.

Saturday’s event will offer hands on activities and displays such as wildlife track making in the snow, observing snow under a microscope, measuring snow temperatures, and creating your own snow crystals. During the event the Jones Benally Family, an internationally acclaimed traditional Diné (Navajo) performing group, will be sharing winter stories and teaching, and playing some games.

The art exhibition will feature a number of local artists including Rachel Wilson, Ken Walters, Julia Williams, Pieter Schaafsma, Frederica Hall, and Tom Bean. Winter focused artwork will include photography, paintings, and mixed media. The exhibition will be up until the end of February.

Berta Benally, the manager for the Jones Benally Family said that they are “excited to share traditional Diné (Navajo) winter stories, which are a delight and an educational opportunity for one and all”.

Artist Rachel Wilson, who is one of the art exhibition’s organizers, said that she is “pleased to be part of this group show of Flagstaff artists’ work celebrating the transformative and mysterious beauty of winter. Winter Tales is part of a series of art shows about nature that Willow Bend is generously hosting this year in their wonderful, solar-warmed space”.

Moran Henn, Willow Bend’s Executive Director added that “we love our Science Saturday events, since each month focuses on a different theme and provides the community with fun and engaging activities. However, we are especially looking forward to this month’s event as it will be extra special. We are honored to host the Jones Benally Family and thrilled to have so many talented artists featured in the exhibition”.

The event will be held at the Willow Bend Center located at 701 E. Sawmill Rd. For a full schedule of the event and directions please visit Willow Bend’s website: or contact Moran Henn at (928) 779 1745,



The Jones Benally Family

winter art

Artwork by Rachel Wilson

bunny winter

Photo by Tom Bean

Happy 2017!

Wow! What a start to the New Year.

Thanks to YOUR help we were able to reach our $5,000 fundraising goal and hit the ground running.

Even with the internet being down, our car still in the shop (long story), and having had to postpone an event and a few school programs due to the snow storm, January didnt slow us down! We hosted our The Art and Science of Water Science Saturday event, got into the schools and taught our recycling and wildlife programs, and were able to finalize the details for our Annual Eagle Celebration. The year is off to a great start.

The view from our window on January 20th. One snow storm down, three more to go.

The view from our window on January 20th. One snow storm down, three more to go.

Annual Report Released!

Our 2016 Fiscal Year Annual Report has been released!

While our fiscal year ends in June, we usually release our report at the end of December just in time for the new calendar year.

And what a GREAT year it has been! We were able to serve over 18,000 students, teachers, and community members, stabilize our budget, hire new staff, and more. We want to share our outreach numbers, success stories, program and volunteer highlights, and financial information with our community and supporters.

You can read the full report (as well as past reports) HERE.

On behalf of Willow Bend,

THANK YOU to everyone who made this year’s programs, events, and activities so successful.

New-Year Appeal and Fundraising Goal!

Happy Holidays from Willow Bend!

And wow, what a year it’s been. Thanks to your support we were able to serve over 18,000 students and community members.

Bald Eagle Celebration

Bald Eagle Celebration

science saturday

Science Saturday

Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, Annual Celebration and Benefit, June 8, 2016, Flagstaff, Arizona

Annual Celebration and Benefit


Classroom Programs







Willow Bend is Flagstaff and Coconino County’s only year-round full-time environmental education center. With ever-decreasing funding for education, we depend on partners like you. Our major source of funding comes from our supporters who understand the importance of instilling wonder and love for the environment at an early age, and recognize the value of offering award winning science-based environmental education programs for the entire community.

Each person we reach through our programs costs us about $5. We are striving for another active and impactful year. Please consider making a tax deductible donation. If you recently made a donation, please accept our sincere gratitude.

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Please help us reach our fundraising goal of $5,000 by making a DONATION TODAY!

Volunteers Getting it Done!

Huge shout out to our amazing volunteers!

On Sunday, December 4th high schooler and Eagle Scout Cutter Barnes and his Troupe #7033 spent the day volunteering at Willow Bend. They rolled up their sleeves, grabbed hovels and gloves and worked on getting our gardens ready for the winter. They cut back grasses that shade the Lizard Garden, removed falling branches that become a hazard during snow storms, and put down weed cloth at the Pollinator garden. They also removed debris, overgrown plants, and other obstacles from the garden paths.

On behalf of Willow Bend, thank you for spending your weekend with us and making a difference.

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December Science Saturday a HUGE Hit!

Our December Science Saturday is always a hit. Each year we host a Sustainable Holiday event, creating fun crafts out of natural and reusable materials and displaying recycled gift wrapping ideas. This year we made holiday cards our of recycled magazines, pine-cone ornaments, tree cookie gifts, and magnets out of reusable materials. Our sustainable gift wrapping display featured alternative materials including magazines, reusable bags, scarves, chip bags, reusable containers and more. We had over 100 participants during the event.

Sustainable gift wrapping ideas

Sustainable gift wrapping ideas

Holiday gifts

Holiday gifts


Decorated tree cookies make the perfect gifts!

December Science Saturday

A full house during the December Science Saturday event







Since the event was so much fun, we decided to continue it for our programs with the Boys and Girls Club of Flagstaff the following week. We can conclude: the sustainable holiday crafts program was a huge success!

holiday-crafts-3 holiday-crafts-4 holiday-crafts holidays-crafts-2


It Has Been a While…

Wow, time just flies when you are having fun!

It has been a while since we updated our blog. But don’t mistake that with “nothing is happening over at Willow Bend”.  Actually A LOT has happened and is happening on a weekly basis. Its hard to put 6 months into one post (really 6 months? has it been that long since we wrote a blog post?).

So here is a quick recap:

July-August: July marked the beginning of our new fiscal year. We kick started it with an appeal and a fundraising goal of $2,000. Which, thanks to the help of our amazing friends and supporters, we were able to reach. We also had our second Bug Camp in partnership with Merriam Powell Institute, had a Plants and Pollinators and Geology Science Saturdays, continued our Picture Canyon and Downtown Geology free community guided tours, led programs and field trips with the Boys and Girls Club, and had wonderful adult workshops with Mike Masek and Mike Dechter.


Bug Camp with NAU’s Merriam Powell Institute


Boys and Girls Club Summer Programs

Plant walk

Adult Workshops: Plant Walk with Mike Masek

Downtown Geology tours

Downtown Geology tours







September-October: Gosh these two months were super busy. We had over 100 participants attend our Colorado River Days Science Saturday. We co-hosted the Annual Back West Celebration of Stone Balancing, in partnership with the Coconino Center for the Arts and artist Pieter Schaafsma. We had lots of fun tabling at Science in the Park and had our special Science Festival recycling center tour. We had two teacher workshops, one focusing on Flagstaff Open Space, and the other on Alternative Energy, held in support from Winds for Schools and Prometheus Solar. We also launched a food focused Adult Workshop series with Foodlink, that included Canning, Acorn Processing, and a workshop that was All About Apples! But perhaps the highlight of our community events was the Bioblitz at Frances Short Pond. You can see a short video about that HERE. We also began working in the schools again (after the long summer break). In addition to the regular classes and field trips we offer, we also started a new invasive species focused program, in partnership with the Arboretum at Flagstaff, free 3rd grade field trips to Picture Canyon and recycling programs for 4th graders in a partnership and funding from the the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section. And, we enhanced our Rio De Flag program through generous funding from the AZ Community Foundation of Flagstaff and partners.

Bio Blitz at Frances Short Pond, Photo Credit: Tom Bean

Bio Blitz at Frances Short Pond, Photo Credit: Tom Bean

Live fish at Willow Bend during Colorado River Days

Live fish at Willow Bend during Colorado River Days


Back West Celebration of Stone Balancing


Field trip to Picture Canyon








November: This is usually our slow month. However, this November was packed with in-class programs, community events, and workshops. We started the month with our AZ Wildlife Family Science programs, hosting LIVE animals at Willow Bend with the AZ Game and Fish Department and Adobe Wildlife. We continued our recycling center tours, and had a beautiful endangered species art exhibition, featuring local artist Frederica Hall. We also had  our annual Board Retreat, and between us, I think our board had way too much fun! Just before Thanks Giving, we also had to deal with an unfortunate incident. Our beloved Biobug was vandalized, but the community REALLY came forward in support!


Board of Directors Retreat


LIVE Animals at Willow Bend

Endangered Species Art Exhibition

Endangered Species Art Exhibition

Biobug on the way to get fixed!

Biobug on the way to get fixed!






Now we are in December (how did that happen?)! Our resolution for the New Year is to pick up our blog posting again and keep you updated with great stories from Willow Bend.




Fiscal Year Appeal!

July 1st marks the first day of our new fiscal year and with your help, we are gearing up for another impactful year. During our previous fiscal year, July 1st 2015 – June 30th 2016, we reached over 18,000 residents, students and visitors, delivering award winning environmental education programming!

Each child we teach and every community member we reach costs us an estimated $5.With ever decreasing funding for education we depend on our members and friends, who understand and value the importance of environmental education.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation, or joining as a member to help support our efforts. Help us reach our fundraising goal of $2,000 for the month of July!

Donations are tax deductible, and for a limited time each donation over $20 received during the month of July will

be rewarded with a Willow Bend reusable bag!


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science saturday

Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, Annual Celebration and Benefit, June 8, 2016, Flagstaff, Arizona

FREE Guided Downtown Geology Tours

Through generous funding from Mountain Sports Flagstaff and 1% for the Planet, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center will be offering guided Downtown Geology Tours twice a month, June-August.


The 1 hour walking tours are based on local Flagstaff author, Marie Jackson’s Stone Landmark’s book.  An exclusive and unique opportunity for the community to explore downtown like never before.  Tours will be offered bi-monthly on the first Tuesday and third Saturday from June thru August.

The tour will cover ancient history of stones used to build downtown’s iconic buildings, including Moenkopi Sandstone, Pumiceous Dacite, Kaibab Limestone, and Malapais Basalt.  In addition tours will highlight progression of architectural styles, discuss changing preferences for certain rock types, and provide an overview of historic events.

IMG_7586Participants will search for fossils on the Ice House walls, find out what stone is referred to as “Arizona Red”, visit the layers of the “Grand Canyon” at Heritage Square, view beautiful stone etchings, and more.

Tours will meet at 11:30am outside Mountain Sports Flagstaff 24 N. San Francisco, every first Tuesday and third Saturday of the month between June and August. Dates include, June 7th and 18th, July 5th and 16th, August 2nd and 20th. The tour is FREE and will be limited to 20 participants. Sign-up in advance with Willow Bend,, or pick up a FREE ticket at Mountain Sports Flagstaff, 24 N. San Francisco. Tickets and sign-up for the entire summer are available beginning June 3rd. Comfortable walking shoes, water and a sun hat are recommended. Tour is wheelchair and stroller accessible and suitable for all ages.