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)

09.31.21 – Same Faces, New Circumstances (A Summary of August and September)

May be an image of one or more people, people standing, outdoors and treeIn August, students went back to school and Willow Bend had their first in-person board in over a year! We also hosted an in-person adult workshop “Gardening for Wildlife” to help educate about the use of gardening to attract native wildlife and restore habitats around Arizona. The workshop was held in partnership with AWWE (Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience) and the AZ Wildlife Federation.

We also saw many visitors such as students from the Sustainable Communities Program and Dr. Mike Wagner, the Project Manager of AZ Milkweeds for Monarchs to see Willow Bend’s milkweed plants,


May be an image of one or more people, people standing, tree and outdoorsOur first in-person field trip of the semester started in September, with 4th-grade students from Sechrist Elementary. The next day we had Sechrist 5th graders for water quality testing at Frances Short Pond. We continued to lead field trips throughout the month. We also hosted another adult workshop with Mike Dechter to learn about Food Fermentation. We celebrated the Festival of Science at Science in the Park, with fun hands-on renewable energy and waste reduction activities. We also led a downtown geology tour with board member and USGS geologist, Daniel Foley.

September was also the month the board celebrated with Melissa before her maternity leave and we hosted a Downtown Geology tour with our board member Danny Foley in collaboration with the Flagstaff Festival of Science! May be an image of one or more people, people standing and outdoors

The start of the school year came in full force with field trips and activities that will continue into the next few months!

(Blog written by Camryn McMahon)

07.31.21 – July brings Monsoons

May be an image of one or more people, people standing and outdoorsFamily hikes, warm weather, and monsoons were in season for Willow Bend this July! Our amazing Friends of the Willow Bend Gardens were hard at work restoring the gardens, planting, weeding, and creating pollinator habitats.

We continued our McMillan Mesa Interpretive Walk into July and went on multiple hikes with Camp Canyon. These included field trips to Frances Short Pond, Aspen Corner, and to the Center and the trails below Willow Bend, where we braved the rain and continued our adventures.

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Finally, we hosted Bug Camp with lots of happy entomologists in the making. Look to August for more walks and hikes at McMillan Mesa!

(Blog posted written by Camryn McMahon)

6.30.2021 – Summer Kick-Off (What a Great June)

From ending the school year to starting summer programs, June left Willow Bend with many activities! Here is a quick highlight:

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We kicked off the month of June and ended spring semester with a last-minute call to evaluate student climate and renewable energy projects at the Flagstaff Junior Academy! Congratulations to all students that participated and created projects! And thanks to the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section, Wind for Schools, Repowering Schools and Prometheus Solar for supporting our Climate and Renewable Energy programs!

May be an image of child, standing, sitting and indoorWe then started our summer programs learning about insects and worms with the help of the Biodiversity Outreach Network. We worked with Kinsey Elementary to present the complexity and importance of these incredible little creatures.

Our first McMillan Mesa family nature walk was a success and will continue the rest of the summer!

We launched our summer camp partnerships with a field trip for Forest Highlands summer campers, who visited the center to learn about the insects and other wildlife in Northern Arizona. We concluded our community programs with a prairie dog watching event held in partnership with an AWWE (Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience) and Habitat Harmony.

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Lastly, we got a special visit from our new district supervisor Jeronimo Vasquez! We are excited to be working more with Supervisor Vasquez oMay be an image of text that says 'Willow Bend I support nental education cente Willow Bend'n environmental education projects.

With such an awesome June, we can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the summer

(Blot post written by Camryn Mcahon)

05.14.2021 – AZ KidWind Challenge 2021 Awards

Congratulations to ALL teams that submitted to our AZ KidWind Challenge. We loved seeing your projects and hope you participate again next year! These five teams below will be invited to the National KidWind Challenge (virtual). Great job!


*EDIT* : Coconino High reached out to us to let us know some of the math was incorrect on their submission forms. With the corrected math, the turbines with the most efficiency have changed. See the NEW results below:


Most Turbine EfficientTimmy and the Turners

2nd Most Turbine Efficient – The Wind Turbine that Could


Most CreativeAirplane

People’s ChoiceWindy Willies

Honorable MentionProject Wind Turbine

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

In addition, thank you for all of the help from the NAU Collegiate Wind Competition team!

Natalie, Aaron, and Tore are (graduating!) NAU seniors that helped us reformat our KidWind Challenge into a virtual event. From supporting teachers, to putting kits together, we couldn’t have done it without them. We wish them the best of luck on their next chapter and are so thankful and appreciative of their help and support. Thank you!