8.13.2022 Farewell and Thank You Cassandra!


After an amazing 11 years, it is time to sincerely thank our wonderful Education Director Cassandra Roberts and wish her all the best on her new adventure! Cassandra will be leaving Willow Bend in August. Cassandra started at Willow Bend as a volunteer, and continued working with Willow Bend as a part, then full time position. Most recently she served as the Education Director, writing curriculum, designing programs, leading field trips, and spearheading new projects. Cassandra will be sorely missed, but we are excited that she will be staying in town and will continue working with students, teachers and families in her new role as the Expedition Director with Grand Canyon Youth.

We Are Hiring an AmeriCorps Member!

We are excited to add a new member to our team! We are currently looking for a dedicated individual interested in gaining experience in the environmental education field. Willow Bend offers a supportive, inclusive and positive environment. Join our team of friendly and knowledgeable staff, wonderful board members, and awesome volunteers. The position is currently listed as either full or part time, depending on the needs of the applicant. We offer a semi-flexible work schedule (some Saturdays and afternoons required), as well as other perks.

Education and Outreach Coordinator Americorps Vista

Duties include leading field trips, teaching environmentally focused classes, developing engaging activities for Center programs, participating in networking and skill building events and more! See the full Americorps Position Description and Duties. 

TO APPLY: Please apply through this: https://in.nau.edu/center-for-service-and-volunteerism/apply-americorps/ 

  • When filling out the form, indicate the VISTA position you are interested in, where it asks which AmeriCorps State position(s) you are applying for.
  • Option for 900 or 1200 total hours.
  • Please contact Moran Henn at (928) 699-6109 or e-mail moran@willowbendcenter.org if you have any questions.

Annual Water Ethics Contest Winners

The Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership (a branch of the Coconino Plateau Water Advisory Council), and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center are excited to announce this year’s winners of the 4th Grade Water Ethic Contest. The annual contest was open to all 4th grade classes throughout Coconino County, including cities, towns, and tribal communities.

The contest creates a fun and rewarding opportunity to introduce children to the concept of ethical water use, including conserving, rainwater harvesting, and water reuse. It also provides an opportunity for the classrooms to discuss where our water comes from and the importance of healthy watersheds, clean waterways, and water for all living things and uses. Participating students demonstrate the principle of responsible water use through both artwork and essays.

Contest winners are:


1st place essay award: Ella A. (Grand Canyon School)

2nd place essay award: Roslyn S. (Grand Canyon School)

3rd place essay award: Tatiana S., Jeremiah B. and CJ J. (Kinsey Inquiry and Discovery)


1st place artwork: Nadeesh V. (Grand Canyon School)

2nd place artwork: Bennett W. (Sechrist Elementar)

3rd place artwork: Kingston K., Aiden M. and Dineh L.

Winning students and their teachers were recognized with certificates, a popsicle class party, and Water Saver Superhero Toolkits that include rain gauges, water conservation coloring books, playing cards, reusable water bottles, and a reusable bag that has the winning students’ artwork displayed on them, and other fun prizes like stickers and magnets.

Another exciting aspect of the contest is that the 4th grader’s submissions are utilized for promoting water stewardship throughout Northern Arizona. Posters are created for classrooms, events, presentations, and are developed into bathroom water awareness signs. The bathroom signs have grown in popularity and can be seen at several public places such as the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor’s Center, City of Flagstaff, Coconino County, City of Sedona, Northern Arizona University, Marshall Elementary, Grand Canyon School, and many more places throughout the community are in the process of obtaining the bathroom posters.

“This is a creative and engaging effort to promote water conservation and we were excited to partner with the Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership to make this contest successful” said Moran Henn, Willow Bend’s Executive Director. “This is awesome!” commented one of the contest winners, when receiving her award (and the popsicles).

Next year’s contest is right around the corner so keep an eye out for the contest in August 2022.

Lomi Loanie – Food Waste Reduction Check Out Program

Though generous funds from the AZ Community Foundation of Flagstaff, and in partnership with The Azulita Project we are launching the Lomi Composter Check-Out Program.

The Lomi Composter is a small-scale electric composting unit that reduces the volume of food scraps, bioplastics, paper products, houseplant trimmings, and even small amounts of yard waste. It is the size of a small cooler and can sit anywhere in a classroom or community space. It transforms food waste into valuable compost within hours! Specifically, Lomi speeds up the breakdown of organic waste into smaller fragments – resulting in less waste and soil rich in nutrients.

The Lomi Composter check out kit can be part of our Waste Reduction Program. Or it can be used independently in a multitude of classes including science, math, engineering, social studies or other programs. Students can calculate volume, weight, and impact of waste reduction, learn about cutting edge technology or discuss the role of technology in fixing some of the world’s problems.

You can read more about the Lomi Composter on the Pela-Earth website.

How the check-out program works:

  • The program is FREE thanks to support from the AZ Community Foundation of Flagstaff and the Azulita Project
  • First come first serve basis. Currently only available for schools and community programs.
  • You can check the Lomi Composter for a week at a time, up to three weeks per semester.
  • Pick up and return Lomi at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.
  • During pick up you will receive a quick tutorial on how to use the Lomi in your classroom or program.
  • Should Lomi break or have technical issues, please return to Willow Bend immediately.
  • Contact Moran Henn, moran@willowbendcenter.org (928) 779-1745 to learn more or to schedule pickup.

05.13.2022 – AZ KidWind Challenge 2022 Awards

Students discussing their turbine design.

The KidWind Challenge is a hands-on design competition that engages students in STEM through the lens of wind energy. Student teams design and construct small wind turbines that they test, and then virtually present their design process and demonstrate their conceptual knowledge on renewable energy. The challenge is a team effort by teachers, students, engineers, and practitioners, all working to make wind energy education and other renewable energy education accessible in classrooms around the world.

Teams testing their wind turbines in the wind tunnel.

Congratulations to ALL teams that submitted to our AZ KidWind Challenge, this year. We loved seeing your projects and hope you participate again next year. Check out all projects here.

And now, announcing, the winners, all from Coconino High School:

1st Place: Material Girlz
2nd Place: Windy Sun Man
3rd Place: The Spinners

We will be reaching out to all participating teams to distribute certificates of participation. Good job everyone!

In addition, thank you to these five NAU Collegiate Wind Competition team members: Mikela, Tess, Cādo, Ben and Davis. Not only did they just graduate from NAU, but they are traveling to San Antonio, TX to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition! Good luck and thank you for all of your help with our renewable energy programming this semester.

Annual Eagle Celebration 2022

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.  – On Saturday, Feb 26th Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in partnership with Liberty Wildlife, AZ Game and Fish, United States Forest Service and other Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience partners held its Annual Eagle Celebration.

This event was a true celebration, as it was the first “in-person” community event at Willow Bend since the pandemic started. Last year’s eagle celebration was held online. And as wonderful as it was to visit with the eagles through the screen, nothing beats the real deal.

The day consisted of two separate presentations at Willow Bend. An all-ages presentation by AZ Game and Fish and USFS biologists and a family focused one led by Willow Bend staff. Both talks covered eagle ecology, management, and conservation. During the family focused program our young participants became ornithologists for the day and made observations about eagle characteristics, feeding habits, and habitat. One young volunteer got to dress up as an eagle to demonstrate key eagle adaptations.

But the highlight of the day was the appearance of live birds from Liberty Wildlife: Cochise an adult bald eagle, Chaco, a red tailed hawk, and a turkey vulture. The eagle displayed his impressive wingspan, powerful talons, and affectionate behavior while Joe and Jan Miller, wildlife rehabilitators and bird trainers from Liberty Wildlife, shared information about the birds, conservation efforts, and Liberty Wildlife rehabilitation center.

“We are so excited to bring eagles and other birds back to Willow Bend. Kids and adults alike were very enthusiastic, and everyone was very supportive of wildlife conservation. And that is what this is all about!” said Moran Henn, Willow Bend’s Executive Director. Joe Miller, from Liberty Wildlife, emphasized the importance of programs that rehabilitate and protect eagles, and shared a few simple ways each and every one of us can help, “from picking up fishing lines, leaving birds alone while in their nests, and notifying the appropriate entities if you see an injured bird or unlawful behavior” said Miller. Hannah Griscom, AZ Game and Fish Habitat specialist AZ Game and Fish was pleased with the public’s interest in local wildlife. She concluded that “we had another very successful year!”.

“That was amazing!” shared Sarah, one of the event’s young participants. “I hope we can do this again next year!”. “So do we”, concluded Henn, “So do we”!

The event was held thanks to support from the AZ Community Foundation of Flagstaff, Creative Flagstaff, City of Flagstaff BBB revenues and other supporters and donors that made it possible!

Willow bend’s mission is to provide education outreach services that build environmental awareness and an ethic of responsible stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.

To learn more about upcoming programs visit www.willowbendcenter.org


A Mural at Willow Bend!

We are excited to announce the launching of our new outdoor art Pollinator Project!

Through generous support from a Creative Flagstaff Arts and Science Project grant, the City of Flagstaff BBB Revenues and a City of Flagstaff Beautification grant the project will include a butterfly mural, free little library, and a number of engaging pollinator activities. We have a general design in mind for the mural, but we are looking for mural artists to make our vision a reality. This is a paid project with lots of freedom for creativity and development. If you are an experienced mural artist interested in a fun and rewarding project, please send your name, contact information, links to your established work (social media, websites, etc.), and attachments of at least 3 samples of completed mural work to moran@willowbendcenter.org. Please use Pollinator Mural Project in the title of the e-mail. 

Learn more about the mural: Willow Bend Pollinator Mural.pps.

Annual 4th Grade Water Ethics Contest

The Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in collaboration with The Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership (CPWP) invites 4th Grade classes throughout Northern Arizona to participate in the Annual Water Ethics Contest.

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

Submission Guidelines:

-Posters no larger than 8 1/2 x 11 inches

-Essay neatly handwritten on one page and relates to poster

-Must include first name and last name initial, teacher name, and school

-Name on poster and essay

-Submissions must include the Official-Contest-Entry-Form-2022

-Accomplished solely by student, but can have teacher/parent guidance

-Students can work in pairs on entries

How to Submit: Please mail or drop off submissions to Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, 703 E. Sawmill Rd, Flagstaff AZ 86001. Or email submissions to moran@willowbendcenter.org. Email submissions are accepted in PDF format.

Deadline: March 11th at 12 pm.

Evaluation: Submitted entries will be evaluated based on the students’ ability to clearly articulate and illustrate their understanding of ethical water use. The review committee will choose a first, second, and third place winner based on the essay and artwork.

Awards: Fun awards and prizes for all winning students and teachers. Winning 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 cash awards!

Art Work: 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.

Any and all questions are accepted! Please contact Moran Henn at (928) 779-1745 or at moran@willowbendcenter.org with questions.

12.31.2021 – What a Year!

This year has been challenging, but also exciting and extremely rewarding. We have been able to open the Center, go back into classrooms and get out on the trails!
Despite the challenges, we have still been able to reach thousands of students, teachers, families, and community members through school programs, teacher support, workshops, tours, and volunteer events. 

Some of our most exciting accomplishments include completing the outdoor classroom and ADA accessible watchable wildlife platform at Willow Bend, resuming in-person adult workshops, and partnering with the City of Flagstaff to develop their Indigenous Youth STEAM Academy programs. Our staff and volunteers have continued sharing their rich and diverse experience to engage meaningfully with the community through locally-focused and nature-based programs. We are committed to improving and developing new programs and making them accessible to everyone.

We would like to thank some of our major funding partners this year and acknowledge their support of our programs, events, and activities. These include but are not limited to the AZ Community Foundation of Flagstaff and collaborators, Creative Flagstaff and the City of Flagstaff BBB Revenues, City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section, AES, Prometheus Solar, Repowering Schools and continuation of the AZ Game and Fish Heritage Grant.

On behalf of the Willow Bend Board of Directors and staff, we express gratitude and much hope for the year to come.


May be an image of 11 people, people standing, park, tree and text that says 'Happy New Year 2022 and Thank You for an Amazing 2021'

11.31.21 Education in Adventuring

May be an image of one or more people, nature, mountain and treeField trips filled our October including Flagstaff Junior Academy’s 3rd and 4th graders going on to Picture Canyon, Kinsey 2nd graders at the pond, and NAU elementary Early Ed. students visiting the Center.

With support from the Arizona Community Foundation, the Flagstaff Sustainability Program, and the Azulita Project we replaced the recycling bins at Marshall Elementary and visited Kinsey Elementary to learn about problems associated with waste, discuss solutions, and conduct a waste audit! Finally, Melissa went on maternity leave, and soon after hadMay be an image of 2 people, people standing, tree and outdoors little Baby George! Congratulations Melissa and family.

November brought more adventuring at Picture Canyon with Puente 3rd graders. We transitioned to bringing the education right to our center with many workshops such as our adult workshop: Wine and Mead Making for Beginners. Puente 2nd graders came to visit the center to learn about insects and to explore our gardens with the help of the Biodiversity Outreach Network.

October and November reminded us that we can have fun while learning as we explore our surroundings!

(Blog post written by Camryn McMahon)