First Week of 2016

We spent the first week of 2016 buried under snow. After a 5-day storm we were left with 31 inches of snow on the ground, which is said to be the 17th highest total snowfall since 1898! It was so beautiful to spend time at the Center, with everything around being so quite and still.


On January 2nd we held our First Science Saturday for 2016. The theme for this month was our sustainable building. We had tours and scavenger hunts of the building, played a building material matching game, made solar oven smore’s, and drew our own dream sustainable buildings. Even with the cold weather we had a good turnout.

January 6,7 and 8 were declared FUSD snow days so all of our school programs were cancelled. Our Center staff had time to catch up on program preparation, event planning, and donor thank you’s.


shovelOn Thursday (January 7th) we dug our way out and accidentally broke Willow Bend’s only snow shovel. We put an urgent call our on Facebook asking for a snow shovel donation. An hour didn’t go by before Veronica Hipoloto (former Willow Bend board member) responded, offering to purchase a new one. She delivered that same day and we were able to clear the path to and from Willow Bend. Thank you Veronica!


tracksOn January 9th we were scheduled to have a Basic Wildlife Tracking Workshop, our first 2016 Adult Education Workshop in partnership with the Arboretum at Flagstaff. However, given the serious snow pack at the Center we had to postpone the event to January 30th. Not only was it impossible to walk around looking for tracks, there actually weren’t any tracks to find. All of our local wildlife hunkered down waiting for the snow to pass.

We are excited for next week! We will be preparing for our Bald Eagle event on the 23rd, facilitating our classroom programs, and even going to City Council to talk about plastic bags!

Stay tuned, and …stay warm!


Wow, 2015, What a Year! 2016, Here We Come!

Wow! 2016 is right around the corner!!!

We want to conclude 2015 by THANKING all of our friends, supporters, members, partners, students and volunteers. Its been such a great year!

We reache_PAG0027d over 17,000 students, community members and visitors! We delivered valuable programs and organized events that promoted an understanding of and continue to foster an appreciation for the natural world. With the New Year starting in less than 24 hours, now is your LAST chance to make a Year-End contribution to support Willow Bend.


ScienceintheParkWillow Bend is Flagstaff and Coconino County’s only year-round full-time environmental education center. With ever decreasing funding for education and environmental protection, we depend on supporters like you who value and understand the importance of investing in our children and our environment through ongoing, science based, outdoor environmental education programs.

HelpIMG_3152 us start 2016 ready and strong! Make an investment in the tomorrow you wish to see TODAY!

Your donations are tax deductible and go directly to support our programs and community events. If you value what we do please DONATE NOW!

Thaboys and girls clubnk You and Happy New-Year from the Willow Bend Family!




P.S Don’t miss our upcoming January events! Science Saturday, Jan 2nd 9-1, Basic Wildlife Tracking Adult Education, and our Annual Bald Eagle Celebration! See you in 2016! 

Full Circle- We Need Your Help!

We are excited to announce that Willow Bend and Grand Canyon Youth are March’s Full Circle Trade & Thrift beneficiaries. This means that during the month of March (2016) all sales proceeds will be donated to Willow Bend and GCY!

Here are a few fun and easy ways you can support our programs:

DONATE STORE STUFF: Help us “Stuff the Truck” and gather donations for the store. Clean your house and bring gently used items to one of the following locations:

  • February 12th 10am-6pm Willow Bend 703 E Sawmill Rd. Free gifts and activities all day!
  • February 17th GCY 9-5pm 2131 N. First Street.
  • Drop off items at GCY or WB Monday-Friday 9:00 am-4:00pm January 17th – February 17th.

DONATE AUCTION ITEMS AND ATTEND AUCTION: Auction with quality items will be held on March 5th at 10am. Donate or sell items on consignment and bid on amazing items for great deals!

SHOP AT THE STORE: Shop at Full Circle Trade & Thrift throughout the month of March. Can’t find something you like? Consider purchasing an item from GCY or WB’s wish list located at the store. VOLUNTEER: Help at the Furniture Circulator, load the truck, or assist one of our Saturday events.

JOIN ACTIVITIES: Bring your friends and family for fun hands on Saturday activities at Full Circle:

  • March 5th: 10-1pm Geology activities and WB’s special Downtown Geology Tour.
  • March 12th: 10-12pm CYG Scavenger Hunt and Silk Screening.
  • March 19th: 10-1pm Celebrating Arizona Archaeology Month. Hands on activities with Willow Bend and guest experts.
  • March 26th: 2-4pm GCY River Film and Photo-booth.

For store and auction donations, volunteering, event information or other questions contact Emma Wharton 928-773-7921 or Moran Henn 928-779-1745 .

Make sure to mention WB or GCY and thank the Full Circle for their support when you visit.

Special thanks to Armour Storage for generously  donating the use of a storage unit for item collection.


Thank You and Year-End Support!

Willow Bend would like to thank all of our partners, donors, and members for your generous support this year. We would also like to request that if you havent made a donation yet that you consider making a one-time year-end or membership donation today.


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 supporters like you who value and understand the importance of investing in our children and our environment through ongoing, science based, outdoor environmental education.

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Over the past year, we were able to serve over 17,000 (!!!) students and community members. We built a wildlife habitat garden at Knoles Elementary, supported Kinsey’s new curriculum through field trips and in-class lessons, experienced the Little Colorado River with 6th graders from Alpine Leadership Academy, hosted tours to the Recycling Center in partnership with the City’s Sustainability Program, and in partnership with the National Park Service offered every 4th grader a field trip to Walnut Canyon. We also partnered with the Boys and Girls Club, providing outdoor education to underserved communities, offered free teacher workshops, and organized community events.

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With your help, we hope for another impactful year. Each child we teach and every community member we reach costs us an estimated $5. Will you consider joining at the Family Level and sponsoring a full year of programming for one child at $50? Or, joining as a Partner and sponsoring a one-time program for a whole classroom at $100? Of course, if you join at higher levels your impact will be multiplied!

By becoming a member you will receive free admissions and member only invitations to many of our programs including Family Science, Adult Education and more! As a business supporter your logo will go on our website and publications.

Making a donation is easy! Just hit DONATE or contact Moran Henn (928) 779 1745,


Frances Short Pond Art Exhibition- A Huge Success

On Friday, December 4th, the City of Flagstaff opened its doors to the public for this exhibition during First Friday Art Walk. The Exhibition at City Hall continues through January 11th. The event is held in partnership with the City and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, celebrating Frances Short Pond. The proceeds from the sale of the art will serve as a fundraiser for Willow Bend’s educational programs.

“The Pond is a treasured community resource providing opportunities for wildlife watching, recreation, fishing, and outdoor education” said David McKee, with the City of Flagstaff’s Stormwater Management Department. McKee serves as a project manager for the Frances Short Pond Improvement Project and Long-Term Maintenance Plan and was one of the main organizers of the Pond Exhibition.

“It’s so wonderful and such a unique experience to visit City Hall and see art everywhere” said Moran Henn, Willow Bend’s Executive Director. “We should make having an art exhibition at City Hall an annual event” added Jack Welch, local walking advocate and a Willow Bend supporter.

Over fifty professional, amateur and youth artist submitted art pieces and over a hundred visitors attended the reception Friday night.

Many teachers, whose students submitted art work and some of the professional artists, expressed their delight in seeing such creativity as well as strong community engagement and enthusiasm about the Pond.

“What a great honor to have our art hanging at City Hall and to bring attention to Frances Short Pond” said a local photographer and retired hydrologist, Collis Lovely, who submitted two beautiful photographs to the exhibition.

Josh Copley, City Manager, and Kimberly Ott, City’s Communication Manager, were amongst many City staff employees present at the reception. “We are very happy with the turnout, and the art is so beautiful and unique” said Ott. “We hope to have many more visitors come and view the art in the months to come” concluded Ott.

The art exhibition will be up at City Hall until January 11th. The City invites the public to visit during regular business hours, Monday-Friday between 8-5pm, enjoy the exhibition, and consider purchasing art. Proceeds from commission fees go directly to support pond focused educational programs administered by Willow Bend Environmental Education Center. For art purchases and to learn more about the Pond Project contact Moran Henn at Willow Bend, 9928) 779 1745,

Children's Pond art displayed at City Hall

Children’s Pond art displayed at City Hall

Jim David purchases Joan McKee's painting of the trees he planted with his students over 30 years ago.

Jim David purchases Joan McKee’s painting of the trees he planted with his students over 30 years ago.

City Hall transformed into an art gallery

City Hall transformed into an art gallery

Shout Out to Our Partners at the City

Here is an opportunity to give a quick shout out to our partners at the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program. We collaborate on a number of programs, including recycling and open space.

Most recently they also provided us with over 100 reusable bags for our plastic bag lesson with 6th graders at Alpine Leadership Academy. The students got to decorate and take home their own reusable bags.

Thanks Nicolepartners Woodman, McKenzie Jones (in the picture), Betsy Emery, and AmeriCorps Member Libby Champagne, we appreciate working with you!

Deserved Recognition

During a Collaborative Coconino Natural Recurse Conservation District meeting, Willow Bend’s Environmental Program Director, Cassandra Roberts, was recognized for her dedication to the organization.

Cassandra not only did her teaching and program management job well, but, during the time Rusty (former Executive Director) left in April, and Moran (the new director) was hired in August, Cassandra also acted as the Executive Director, managing the Center, applying for grants, and organizing events.

Recognition is well deserved! recognition

The Month of November

Wow! November was SO busy that it just zoomed by!  We are only now sitting down to write about it.

family science

We kicked off the month with our favorite community program: Family Science. This time the focus was AZ Wildlife, celebrating our State’s magnificent animals. The event was scheduled for November 4th but a huge snowstorm forced us to postpone it to November 5th. Even with last minute changes we had a full house and the event was a HUGE success! The event, held in partnership with AZ Game and Fish and Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, featured live animals including a Red Tailed Hawk, A Great Horned Owl, a Desert Tortoise, and a Snake. Our young participants asked great questions, and at the end, everyone had an opportunity to see the animals up close and take pictures with the owl.

During the first week of November we also partnered with an NAU freshmen class exploring the natural world through a different perspective. The students (and the instructor) practiced observing, and “being”, different things in the natural world, from plants to rocks to mighty Ponderosa trees.


recycling tour staff

The month continued with an exclusive behind the scenes recycling tour for our staff followed by our free monthly First Friday tours for the public. It’s always great to have community members, who want to learn more about the journey of waste and recyclables, join the tour.


IMG_5060Science Saturday, held at our Center every first Saturday of the month was focused on “Frances Short Pond”. Center environmental educator Val and intern Helena Van Winkle facilitated pond inspired art activities, and had pond water under a microscope for visitors to see.


We stayedwater ethics late at the Center on November 13th for the 4th Grade Water Ethics Contest deadline. We still had entries coming in at 5:30pm! Over 10 Coconino County schools participated, including schools as far as the Grand Canyon!  Judging took place right before Thanksgiving and was very tough, since all the entries were beautiful and inspiring. IMG_4022

After Thanksgiving we hosted Girl Scout troops at the Center, mostly focusing again, on the theme of the month: Frances Short Pond. They made beautiful art pieces.

boys and girls clubOur ongoing programs continued throughout the month including our Boys and Girls Club afterschool program. Each week we did something different, including weather measurements, learning about bugs, and of course… the theme of the month: Frances Short Pond.

frances Short Pond MEMS

For our school programs the highlights were paper making with students at Kinsey, plastic bag discussion and activities with 6th graders at Alpine and tagging along with MEMS 6TH grade teacher Curt Craig and his class during their…you got it…Frances Short Pond visit.


Here is to another great month!

Frances Short Pond Art Exhibition-Call for Artists!

During the Month of December the City of Flagstaff and Willow Bend will be hosting an art exhibition at the City Hall Lobby celebrating Frances Short Pond. The Pond is a recognized Watchable Wildlife Site, a much loved urban outdoor space and a true community gem.

A reception with live music, food, and family focused activities will take place on First Friday Artwalk, December 4th 6-9pm.

Everyone is encouraged to submit pond focused artwork. Exhibition will feature professional and amateur artists, as well as a separate children and youth section.

Deadline for submission: November 24th at 5pm. Art work must be delivered to City Hall  Friday November 27th through Tuesday December 2nd, 8am to 5pm.

Information about artwork requirements, delivery, and reception can be found here: CALL TO ARTISTS. Download and sign the agreement here: City Hall Art Exhibition Agreement

Please contact Executive Director Moran Henn at or call (928) 779 1745 if you have any questions or to send the signed agreement.

pond photographyCall For Artists Frances Short Pond

Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education

Looking to Expand Your Skills as an Environmental Educator?

Willow Bend will be hosting the Arizona Association for Environmental Education’s “Excellence in Environmental Education” workshop on Saturday, November 14th from 8.30am – 12.30pm at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center 703 E Sawmill Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Workshop: Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education

The Arizona Association for Environmental Education is pleased to offer a half-day workshop to introduce the Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education to all those who teach about the environment.

Through this workshop, you will:

  • Learn about the project, Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education: a product of the North American Association for Environmental Education
  • Understand the six areas of environmental education as supported through the Guidelines
  • Begin preparation toward your own Environmental Education Certification as an environmental educator and apply for a scholarship to waive the certification fee
  • Receive the full five book set of the Guidelines to utilize in your work and a CEU certificate

This introductory workshop is designed for all those who consider themselves environmental educators, whether in classrooms, non-formal or informal settings.

Registration required. Call Willow Bend 928.779.1745