Heritage Grant Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Willow Bend Moran Henn,

(928) 779-1745, moran@willowbendcenter.org


Re: Heritage Grant Awarded to Collaborative Willow Bend/Sawmill Park Project

Flagstaff, AZ-May 7th —Willow Bend Environmental Education Center and partners are pleased to announce that we are being offered a grant award of $38,337 for our successful Heritage Grant application titled “Habitat Restoration and Watchable Wildlife Enhancement at Sawmill/Willow Bend AWWE (Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience) Site”.

Funds from the grant will be used to support school and community wildlife programs, interpretive signage, interactive habitat displays, garden restoration, and a new ADA accessible wildlife-watching platform at the Willow Bend AWWE site. This project is part of a formal partnership between Willow Bend, Coconino County, the AWWE group, and the City of Flagstaff Storm Water Management for on-going restoration and environmental education efforts at Willow Bend/Sawmill Park. The project is also supported by matching funds from the Coconino County Board of Supervisors and Coconino County Parks and Recreation.

“We were so excited to receive funding for this impactful project” said Moran Henn, Willow Bend’s Executive Director. Cassandra Roberts, Willow Bend’s Program Director added that “the goal of the project is to promote an understanding of and an appreciation for our local wildlife and habitat”. Cynthia Nemeth, Coconino County Parks and Recreation Director added that “This grant is extremely welcomed as it will go a long way towards engaging the public, especially children, in the outdoors.  The ADA accessible watchable wildlife platform is a very important feature made possible through this grant.  Coconino County Parks and Recreation is proud to be a partner in a project with so many positive outcomes”.

“This grant will build upon the work performed last year by the City, Natural Channel Designs, and many volunteers to improve native habitat and reduce invasive weeds on City property near Willow Bend,” said Amanda Richardson, Stormwater Project Manager with the City of Flagstaff Water Services. “We look forward to growing our partnerships to preserve the community’s natural resources, which is a goal of this City Council and an element of the 2030 Flagstaff Regional Plan.”

“Programming will begin soon and over the next two years you can expect to see a lot of restoration work, installation of new interpretive signage and interactive displays, construction of the wildlife watching platform and of course many students watching birds, learning about wildlife and taking pictures” concluded Henn.

The Heritage grants are supported by revenue from Arizona Lottery sales and are available to projects that focus on wildlife and habitats across the entire state. For more information about Heritage funds visit www.azgfd.gov, for information about AWWE sites and events visit www.www.azwatchwildlife.com, and to learn more about Willow Bend visit:  www.willowbendcenter.org.


4/16/18 Downtown Geology Tours This Summer, Watch the Promo!

We are very excited to announce that through generous funding from Mountain Sports Flagstaff and 1% for the Planet, we will be offering guided Downtown Geology Tours for the third summer in a row! 

Tours will be offered twice a month between June – September. For a full schedule, visit our tour program section on our website.

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.  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.

Participants 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.

Watch the 1 minute tour promo!

Tours are FREE and open to the public. All ages welcome.

We will kick off the tours during First Friday June 1st 6pm-9pm at Mountain Sports Flagstaff! Raffle, free gifts, tour tickets, and more!

4/1/18 April is Water Awareness Month!

Did you know? April is Water Awareness Month!

“My Water Pledge” is a friendly competition between cities across the US to see who can be the most “water-wise.” Last year Flagstaff WON the national competition saving millions of gallons of water. This year Flagstaff is currently in second place, trailing closely behind Westminster CA.

TAKE THE PLEDGE NOW (before the end of April) and put Flagstaff on the map again!

Plus, YOU CAN HELP WILLOW BEND WIN a 2018 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid, and you can win prizes too!  Hundreds of dollars worth of sustainable gifts, coupons and items will be raffled.

How do you participate? Take the pledge here. Choose Flagstaff, AZ for your participating City. Then, on each page you can select the actions you are going to take to save water.The site will add up the amount of gallons saved by each one of your selected actions and let you know how many total gallons you saved!


At the end of the pledge you will be asked if you want to enter the prize drawing and you can select an organization to win a brand new hybrid! Enter in “Willow Bend, Flagstaff Arizona”!

3/3/2018 Science Saturday: Renewable Energy

Blog post written by Willow Bend intern Mackenzie Myhra

This month’s Science Saturday focused on Renewable Energy!

We had awesome activities such as windmill designing from Arizona Wind for School, power bikes made by Flagstaff’s very own Ward Davis, solar powered toys, a solar panel, and other solar activities from Prometheus Solar, sun art, and a solar oven to make s’mores (yum). This year we also had a Solatube on display from Flagstaff Skylights by JKC, to show alternative lighting methods for an energy efficient home.

Thank you to everyone who attended! And SPECIAL thanks to our sponsors, Prometheus Solar, Wind for Schools, and Flagstaff Skylights from JCK. We couldn’t have done it without your “energy” and enthusiasm!

2/21/2018 City of Flagstaff Water Contest

Did you know that April is #WaterAwarenessMonth? Help highlight the importance and beauty of water through your art!

The City of Flagstaff Water Services is hosting an Art Contest to Celebrate Water on the Colorado Plateau.

Submissions must be 2 dimensional and can be entered in the youth (under 18) or adult (18+) categories. Submissions will be accepted through March 20th at the Water Conservation Office or via email: savewater@flagstaffaz.gov

Prizes galore, plus the opportunity to have selected art pieces hang in Firecreek Coffee Company – Flagstaff all month long during April 2018.

2/20/2018 – A Warm Welcome to Our New Interns!

Willow Bend would like to welcome our three awesome new interns to the team! They have already assisted at our Science Saturday events, joined us in the classroom, and helped at our most recent Adult Workshop.

Mackenzie Myhra

Mackenzie Myhra is currently a junior at NAU. She is double majoring in Environmental Studies and Criminal Justice and minoring in Psychology. She enjoys drawing, painting, and music. MacKenzie stated, “Sustainability is my passion and I’m excited that I get the chance to intern with Willow Bend to help educate others about environmental issues and get involved with the community”.

Haley Lemos

Haley graduated from Mesa Community College as a Presidential Honors Scholar and Phi Theta Kapa honors student with her Associates in Science. Currently, she is a senior at Northern Arizona University working towards her B.A in Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Biology. At Northern Arizona University, she also mentors minority freshmen working towards degrees in STEM programs through the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. Haley has a passion for the world of nature and all of the beautiful wonders the Earth holds dearly. In her free time, she enjoys hiking to local creeks, basking in the Arizona sun, cruising around Flagstaff on her long board and helping out at the fun events Willow Bend offers the community.


Cameron Rood

Cameron (Cam)  is nearing completion of a BS in Environmental Science from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. His interests vary from environmental/outdoor education, music production/sound engineering, to political science and community organizing. He is always looking for ways to empower others through a sustainability lens. Cameron enjoys snowboarding, preparing Asian cuisine, and making all sorts of music.

If you come across our interns at one of our many community events or tabling, give them a warm welcome! We are excited to have them on the Willow Bend team!



2.1.18 Announcing NEW Program: “The Art of Science”

We are excited to announce a new program starting in March!

Through the Flagstaff Arts Council special Project Arts and Science Grant and the City of Flagstaff BBB revenues, we will be launching the “Art of Science” program. The program will run between March and June (2018) and include monthly art workshops. Each workshop will focus on a different topic, utilize a different art medium or technique, and feature a different lead artist and guest scientist.

Each workshop will start with a lecture or a hike led by a guest scientists, and continue with one-on-one instruction from the lead artist. Participants will get to create nature focused works of art and participate in Willow Bend’s monthly art exhibitions.

Topics and dates:

March 10th: The Art of Birds the Science of Birding

April 28th: The Secret Life of Bees (and Other Pollinators)

May 19th: Navajo Basket Weaving

June 30th: Plants and Colors, Fabrics and Dyes

More information on artists, guest scientists, times, registration and costs coming soon…

1/31/2018 – January Highlights!

January is over already?!  Willow Bend had a very eventful first month of 2018 and we would love to share some of our highlights!


This January we visited (or hosted a field trip for) 11 different schools in Flagstaff and provided environmental education for over 500 students with fun and interactive programs focusing on recycling, food waste, habitats and more!



Willow Bend has been working with 6th graders from Alpine Leadership Academy on a pilot food waste program supported by the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section. This month, students made their concluding presentations about what they learned, what behavior changes they made, and showed us their new compost station that was a direct result of the project!

This project has paved the way for another food waste project supported by the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section! Fourth and Fifth Graders at Marshall Elementary  are correctly collecting data on food that gets wasted during school lunch and looking for creative ways to reduce that waste. Their food waste warrior training started this month and will conclude in early February, so updates to come!


Elementary school students are prepping for a Frances Short Pond field trip in the spring by learning about habitats of various insects, birds, plants, fish and mammals in and around the pond! The lesson includes a song on habitat that means Melissa bringing her ukulele to school! The song was a hit!



Adult Workshop: Wildlife Tracking

Lynne Nemeth, Executive Director of The Arboretum at Flagstaff facilitated a great Adult Workshop this month covering the basics of wildlife tracking. We found coyote, raccoon, skunk and plenty of dog tracks on a hike and learned other ways to spot wildlife activity while out in nature!

Science Saturday: The Art and Science of Water

Our Science Saturday this month was a blast! The event was held in partnership with the Colorado Plateau Watershed Council and and we had watershed models, water cycle games, and the 2017 4th grade Water Ethics Contest posters. Thank you to all the families who made it out and to FALA Grand Canyon Youth students for volunteering their time to help out (see them below celebrating water through song)!


Annual Eagle Celebration!

Our Annual Eagle Celebration was an amazing event. Thanks to ALL the event partners: Arizona Game and Fish Flagstaff Region, Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience and Liberty Wildlife. Big shout out to everyone who helped organize, the biologists and field trip leaders who lead a morning field trip,  the presenters, and of course a BIG big thank you to Joe and Jan from Liberty Wildlife for bringing up Aurora the bald eagle and Anasazi the golden eagle, and sharing important information about eagle conservation. Also, thank you to everyone who attended and supported the event. Program fees go directly towards eagle conservation and rehabilitation and to future wildlife focused programming.

A huge thank you from Willow Bend to everyone who made January a success, and we are so excited for February!

Announcing the Winners of the 2017 Fourth Grade Water Ethic Contest!

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 8th 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.

Five schools participated in this year’s contest, and the winning students came from Mrs. Mimran’s class at Sechrist Elementary. An Award of Merit goes to Mrs. Federio-Carolus from DeMiguel Elementary, Mrs. Fisk from Marshall Elementary, Ms. Brosius from Montessori School, and Ms. Bolden from Thomas Elementary.

Contest Winners:

Best Overall- Isabella S., Sechrist

2nd Place Art- Lily H. and Lily S., Sechrist

2nd Place Essay- Camden K., Sechrist

3rd Place Art- Helena C. and Cora J., Sechrist

3rd Place Essay- Helena C. and Cora J., Sechrist

The winning class will be treated to an in-class pizza party, and all other participating classes will be treated to an ice-cream social. The winning students will also receive additional prizes and all participating classes will be rewarded with Water Saver Superhero Toolkits that include rain gauges, water conservation coloring books, playing cards, and a reusable bag that has the winning students’ artwork displayed on them, and other fun prizes like stickers and magnets. The teacher of the winning entries receives a $900 cash prize for their inclusion of award winning water education into their curriculum.

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 year’s submissions will also be featured at the Coconino Center for the Arts Fall 2019 special water exhibition. The exhibit will incorporate professional artists who have participated in programs geared towards education on water awareness hosted by the Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership and other community partners. This is an exciting opportunity for all participating students to have their art reach an even wider audience in an effort to educate visitors on water awareness.


Welcome to the Board Whitney!

The Willow Bend board is excited to welcome our newest board member, Whitney Tapia.

Whitney received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Master’s degree in Educational Foundations, and her Principal Certification from Northern Arizona University. Whitney has taught for 11 years, mainly in the Flagstaff Unified School District. Currently, she teaches Introduction to Education at NAU. Whitney was the 2010 recipient of the Sustainability in Education for the 21st Century Award. In 2015, she was recognized as the Coconino County Teacher of the year, and was a semifinalist for the 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year. A native of Flagstaff, Whitney has great pride in this mountain town, and she cannot imagine a better place to build a life with her husband, and to raise her two children.

We are excited to have Whitney on board!