Make a Difference Day!

Make a Difference Day 2015Join the City of Flagstaff, Willow Bend and multiple community partners for National Make a Difference Day. We will be restoring Frances Short Pond, Flagstaff’s beloved fishing, Watchable Wildlife, and Environmental Education site!

WHEN and WHERE: October 24th at Frances Short Pond (located at the very northern end of Aztec St in Downtown Flagstaff). The day will begin at 8:30 am with a safety talk and doughnuts and will conclude at 1:30 pm with a free pizza lunch and a raffle.

WHAT: Volunteer projects for the day include removing a chain link fence, trimming trees, removing invasive species, picking up litter, repairing the outdoor classroom and Veit cabin, and maintaining area trails. Bring boots, sunscreen, gloves, and water.

KIDS WELCOME: Willow Bend, together with Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, will be facilitating kids activities and art projects throughout the day! Kids art projects featuring of the pond, wildlife, and water conservation will be collected and displayed at City Hall during December First Friday (December 4th 2015).

To volunteer join us any time throughout the day or contact Betsy Emery at 928-213-2154 or with any questions! Check for updates and weather alerts on the event’s Facebook page.

Water Ethic Contest!

The Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership & Willow Bend Environmental Education Center are launching the 6th Annual Water Ethic Contest!

CallinContest Posterg all 4th Grade classes throughout Northern Arizona to participate in a contest demonstrating the principles of responsible water use through artwork and essays!

Submissions must be submitted by November 13th, 2015. The Watershed Partnership’s Public Outreach Committee will choose a first, second, and third place winner, based on essay and artwork.

Winning students will receive prizes! Classes to which the winning students belong will be treated to an in-class party, including a pizza party for the 1st place student, a ice-cream social for 2nd place, and a popcorn party for 3rd. Teachers of winning entries will receive an award of $300, $200, or $100.

In addition, all participating classes 5215f60d8405be1be615a2a43775e9abwill be rewarded with “water super hero” tools and all submitted art work will be exhibited at Flagstaff City Hall during the December Artwalk event (December 4th 2015). Selected submissions will be used in promoting water stewardship throughout Northern Arizona.



For more information download Poster Contest Guidelines 2016, Official Contest Entry Form 2016, and Water Ethic Contest Letter 2016.

Let’s get creative, let’s conserve water!

Thank You AZ Community Foundation of Flagstaff and Partners

On Sepcommunity foundation 2015tember 21st the Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff hosted its Annual Grant Awards Ceremony at High Country Conference Center. The room was packed with Flagstaff’s amazing non-profits, Community Foundation staff, and  program and grant partners.  One-by-one grants were awarded in each category, from K-12 Education to Social Services and Health.



Willow Bgrant award 1end was honored to receive a generous grant from the Community Foundation, the Geo Fund, and W.L Gore and Associates.

grant award



The funds will go towards our new “Urban Trails and Community Connections: Linking Flagstaff through Schools, Trails, and the Rio de Flag”.  The project provides 200 elementary and middle-school students with over 220 hours of environmental education programming. Classroom presentations, field experiences, and service-learning projects will engage students and teachers with local ecosystems found along the Rio de Flag and Flagstaff Urban Trail System.

Thank you!

Annual Sustainable Building Tour

On September 26th the Coconino County Sustainable Building Program, in partnership with the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program, and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center hosted the Annual Sustainable Building Tour as part of the Flagstaff Festival of Science.
This year’s toSustinable Building Tour ur theme of “Exploring New Horizons with Sustainable Building,” provided a fun and unique opportunity to see homes and buildings that have implemented sustainability through design, materials, systems, and living practices.

The tour featured passive solar design, energy and water efficient systems and appliances, greywater and rainwater reuse, and construction methods such as local wood, cinder block, cordwood, insulated concrete forms and strawbale. _PAG0019

The annual, self-guided tour starts at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center. The Center was hustling and bustling with curious visitors walking through and learning about our strawbale building. Jim Corning from Prometheus talked about our solar panels and energy.

Willow Bend staff and volunteers talked about the Center’s design, orientation, Xeriscaping, ventilation, and more. Kids and kids at heart had lots of fun participating in Willow Bend’s new scavenger hunt and the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program were on site with recycling information and games.





We had over 150 tour participants! If you missed it, make sure you come next year.

Public Lands Day

On September 26th the Coconino National Forest, together with multiple partners, co-hosted an event celebrating National Public Lands Day.

The event included a volunteer service project enlarging the beach areas of Upper Lake Mary by spreading gravel in between boat ramps.

Willow Bend had a table with fun interactive activities including a watershed model complete with snow, rain, dams, houses, and animals. The model demonstrates how water flows in and out of the watershed. Kids had a great time putting snow on the peaks and melting it down the slopes with spray bottles, creating dams with clay to divert water to farms, and dropping cars into overflowing canals. We had a great opportunity to talk to other organizations in Flagstaff and inform local residents about Willow Bend’s programs and events.

Science in the Park

The Flagstaff Festival of Science was a fantastic exploration of the various science based projects and agencies working and studying in Northern Arizona. The Festival was kick
started on Saturday, September 19th at Science in the Park. Located at Wheeler Park in downtown Flagstaff, the event had activities from a plethora of organizations including Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.

Willow Bend’s table was staffed by Val and Cassandra, and new Willow Bend Interns Helena and James. Our activities included a wildlife game matching items from such as horns, quills, and bones to the corresponding picture of the animal. Willow Bend also brought along their greater Flagstaff 3D Terrain Model and spray bottles to illustrate the movement of water on our landscape. kids and adults alike had a great time and was a wonderful opportunity to educate the public and get them interested in our environment.


Colorado River Days

On Saturday September 5th , Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, in partnership with Sierra Club, USGS, Arizona Trail Association, and Seeds of Stewardship Program, hosted the Annual “Colorado River: Fish and Watershed” event as part of the Colorado River Days Flagstaff Celebration.


The event was a huge success (even with rainy weather)!

ColoradoRiverDays2The USGS set up LIVE fish tanks outside Willow Bend and provided information about native and invasive fish. Participants not only learned about fish, but also got to touch them! Which was a huge hit among kids and adults alike.

ColoradoRiverDays3Inside the Center, Willow Bend focused on water education and our interns and volunteers played the water cycle game with the kids. We of course also had our 3D Terrain Model
out, walked visitors through the “A Drop of Water Display”, and helped kids “fish” the Colorado river.

The Sierra Club made nature journals with kids and Arizona Trail Association and Seeds of Stewardship Program facilitated their “How mining contamination moves through watershed” activity.


Thanks to all our partners and supporters for making this event possible. We look forward to next year!

New Executive Director!

Willow Bend is excited to announce the selection of Moran Henn as our new Executive Director!

moranHenn is very passionate about environmental education and comes to Willow Bend with over 15 years of experience working for governmental and state agencies, non-profits, and grassroots organizations. “I regularly attended the Center’s events with my own children and always loved this place and its programs. I feel so fortunate and honored to take on the Director position” says Henn.

Holly Taylor, Board Treasurer and former Board President welcomed Henn at an Open House event held at the Center last Wednesday (September 9th). “We are ecstatic to have Moran join the Willow Bend team. We believe she brings great energy, experience, and commitment to the Organization’s mission”.

City Manager, Josh Copley and County Supervisor Art Babbott were also present at the event and, among others, congratulated Henn on her new role and enjoyed touring the Center and the exhibits.“Congratulations to Moran and Willow Bend” said Vice Mayor Barotz, who was not able to attend the event but expressed her support for environmental education.

At the event Henn shared her vision for the Center and invited Willow Bend partners and supporters to meet. “Over the next couple of months I plan to meet with as many of executive director celebration the Center’s  community partners, former board members, and supporters to learn about the Center’s history and discuss my vision and opportunities for engagement” said Henn. “When asked if they know Willow Bend, I want every child in Flagstaff to say of course I do, I love it!” concluded Henn.

Rusty Tweed, Willow Bend’s former Executive Director, has taken a new position with Woodson Engendering in April (2015) and we wish him luck on his new endeavor.

A Drop of Water

As part of our upcoming new exhibit, A Drop of Water, we had the opportunity to visit some local ranches to see how they are improving habitat through brush management programs.  These areas were historically grassland and have been IMG_2178encroached upon by woody species such as juniper and pinyon pine. Restoring the land to a grassland ecosystem helps pronghorn antelope habitat, increases forage for elk and cattle, and helps build healthy soils and grasses that gets more water into the ground.

Because of the positive benefits for wildlife, this work is supported by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and coordinated through the Natural Resource Conservation Service.  For our first day of filming we visited the Bar-T-Bar ranch south of Meteor Crater and interviewed ranch owner Judy Prosser, Steve Cassady with AZGFD and Harry Hosler – machinea soil scientist with the NRCS (pictured above).

We caught up with the equipment operator, Rob Columbini, at the Babbitt Ranches east of Red Mountain.  After clearing an area, the mulched brush left behind provides an environment favorable to increased growth of grasses and forbs. Grasses were already starting to poke up through the mulch just about one month after he had worked through the area.

This topic is just the first part of the exhibit which will focus on following IMG_2181a hypothetical path of a drop water.  Additional interpretive panels will cover water infiltration through the soil and rock; the regional aquifer stored primarily in the Coconino Sandstone (C-aquifer); the energy cost of pumping water from a deep aquifer; and the municipal treatment and distribution system.  By illustrating the long and unlikely journey of a drop of water falling from the sky, reaching the aquifer, and flowing to our faucets, our aim is to help our visitors and school children understand how precious our water is and to think wisely about how to conserve this limited resource.

In addition to the organizations and people mentioned above, we appreciate the support of a W.L. Gore STEM grant, a grant from the Flagstaff Community Foundation, and individual contributions from the Friends of Willow Bend.

Kids Holiday Gift Making

Willow Bend Environmental Education Center is excited to host a gift making program for children.  This free event is on December 6th between 10 am and 2 pm at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center (703 East Sawmill Rd.) Visitors may drop in anytime between 10 am and 2pm.

IMG_1452Join Willow Bend as we make fun holiday gifts out of natural and/or reusable materials. We will be making gifts such as picture frames and dream catchers. We will also have several other fun gift making projects and all supplies will be provided.

Why make a gift out of recycled or natural materials?  It’s environmentally friendly since you may be preventing something from going to the landfill; there are few resources consumed in the making of your gift; it allows for creativity; it will be a one-of-a-kind gem that someone will cherish; and it’s free!

This event is part of the ongoing Family Science Series hosted monthly at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.  At Willow Bend’s programs parents and children learn together and explore nature through interactive games and presentations on different natural history topics.

The series is sponsored by Mountain Sports.

This event is free but a $5 donation is gladly accepted.