04.20.2019 – Earth Day the Bushmaster Park

Blog post written by Willow Bend intern Laura Sherrill

On Saturday, we spent the afternoon celebrating Earth Day at Bushmaster Park. Willow Bend was among nearly 50 local organizations that came out to table for the day. It was so much fun to learn about planet Earth through watershed models from the US Forest Service, composting demonstrations, and even a “Climate Change Scavenger Hunt” organized by the city.

At Willow Bend’s table, we decided to showcase the wildlife of Arizona with a matching game. Passerby were able to match an animal relic with the corresponding picture and learn all about the animal in the process. Getting to hold a desert tortoise shell is a rare opportunity that made for wonderful hands-on learning.

The weather was beautiful, and when the sun came out from behind the clouds the party really got started. Live music had people of all ages dancing and hula-hooping in the field. Even those who would rather relax were able to lay down and sunbathe. There was something for everyone to do.

Thank you to everyone who came by our table to say hi, learn about wildlife in Arizona, and celebrate the Earth! Even though Earth Day has passed, we will continue to host events that promote learning about the planet, and we encourage you to get involved. Check out our upcoming event schedule and join us for Science Saturday or an Adult Workshop!

04.01.2019 – Adult Workshop: Starting Seeds at Home for Your Summer Garden

Blog post written by Willow Bend intern Laura Sherrill

Last Saturday at Willow Bend, in partnership with the Arboretum, 15 participants spent their morning learning how to start seeds for at-home gardens. Gayle Nance, horticulturist at the Arboretum at Flagstaff, facilitated the lesson, covering topics such as necessary supplies for planting seeds, which seeds do best in which climates, and conditions essential to growing resilient plants.

After learning about the essentials to seed starting, participants were able to get our hands dirty and plant some seeds. Participants split up into pairs, and filled up seed-starting trays with nutrient rich soil. By the end of the workshop, we started hundreds of seeds. The seeds were transported to the Arboretum where they will grow and eventually be planted.

Did you know Flagstaff’s growing season is only 90 days long? This growing season is distinctly short, so we are excited to get a head start on our gardens. Thank you to Gayle for all of the outstanding advice and information, and thank you to everyone who came out to help start seeds. Missed it? We have a bunch of great adults workshops coming up, click here to check our upcoming schedule.

02.09.2019 – Adult Workshop: Basics of Botanical Illustration

Today, 18 participants spent their Saturday at Willow Bend with Sheila Murray, Research Botanist at The Arboretum at Flagstaff, learning all about the basics of botanical illustration. Participants learned composition, three-dimensional rendering, black ink pen technique, botanical anatomy fundamentals, and drawing from herbarium specimens. Classical music played in the background, while participants chit-chatted and worked on their illustrations. All participants got to take their drawings and art materials used in the workshop home so they could continue to practice the skills that they learned. Thank you to Sheila Murray and the Arboretum for the partnership in making this workshop happen!




1.26.2019 – Teacher Workshop – Climate Change and Renewable Energy

In Spring 2018, Willow Bend partnered with the Wind for Schools project, which aims to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency education and research initiatives from the K-12 through university levels statewide. Through the Wind for Schools partnership, as well as support from the KidWind Project, the City of Flagstaff, and the Arboretum at Flagstaff, Willow Bend hosted a two-day teacher workshop on climate change and renewable energy for 15 Arizona educators. Teachers in attendance represented a wide range of education levels; there were pre-school, elementary, middle, high and even college educators that came together to learn wind and solar activities that could be adapted to their students’ grade levels. On the first day of the two-day workshop, the Climate Change portion was covered. Lee Bryant, Sustainability AmeriCorps VISTA member, presented the climate action tool kit, a handful of resources teachers can use in their classroom for teaching climate change. On Saturday, teachers returned and KidWind trainers Kathy Jackson and Buddy Grider introduced the KidWind Project and the KidWind Challenge. They demonstrated several wind and solar activities that teachers could easily do in their classrooms. Some of these activities included MacGuyver, solar fountains, sail cars, and blade design for wind turbines. Teachers were informed and encouraged to attend the Youth Climate Summit in April, a summit that will have Climate Action, KidWind, and Solar Structure Challenges, using knowledge they learned in the teacher workshop to help their students develop successful projects. Teachers were also showed where to access KidWind curriculum and were offered the opportunity for Willow Bend to visit their classrooms to assist teaching wind and solar activities. Teachers were also informed of Willow Bend’s wind/solar teacher checkout kits and the upcoming Recharge Academy in the summer. Willow Bend was thankful that Kathy and Buddy were able to visit Flagstaff to facilitate an engaging and experiential learning experience for so many wind and solar activities and concepts.


12.31.18 Annual Report Fiscal Year 2018

We just published our Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2018 . The report includes a summary of our income and expenses, major donors and partnerships, programs, events, staff and board updates and more.

While our fiscal year goes from July 1st 2017-June 30th 2018, it is published each year, at the end of the calendar year.

We want to thank our donors, supporters, partners, volunteers, interns, board members, and staff for their dedication, hard work, and love for teaching and the outdoors!

See you in 2019.

Moran Henn,                                              Ariel Leonard
Executive Director                                   President of the Board

12.28.18 Willow Bend Recognized as Flagstaff’s Organization of the Year!


We are honored to have been recognized as Flagstaff’s Organization of the Year by the AZ Daily Sun. (read all about it in the link).

In 2018, we delivered hundreds of programs, field trips, events, and workshops, serving over 18,000 students, teachers, community members and visitors. Receiving this award means so much to us, especially, since we will be celebrating our 40th Anniversary in 2019. This shows us that our services and programs are needed and appreciated.

As we mentioned in the article, Willow Bend’s work is successful thanks to our many volunteers, partners, and supporters. If you are among them, THANK YOU!

We have big plans for 2019, including rolling out new curriculum, enhancing our field trips, strengthening and creating new partnerships and f course, our 40th Anniversary Celebration!

We look forward to continue serving our community,

Willow Bend Staff: Moran Henn, Cassandra Roberts, and Melissa Eckstrom

Willow Bend Board (including members who served but left in 2018): Ariel Leonard, Michele James, Cree Donovan, Mary Mckell, Steve Gatewood, Andy Gould, Reed Jenkins, Ken Myers, Shelly Shepherd, Eric Souders, Whitney Tapia, Holly Taylor, and Neil Weintraub.

Partial Willow Bend team: (left to right) Eric Souders (board member), Mary McKell (board member-treasurer), Moran Henn 9executive director), Neil Weintraub (board member), Michele James (vice-president), Susan Lamb (volunteer-garden coordinator), Bob Baer (volunteer), Sara Day (volunteer), and Cassandra Roberts (Education Director).


Announcing the Winners of the 2018 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 9th 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.

10 schools and 14 classes participated in this year’s contest. The overall 1st place winner came from Mrs. Painter’s class at Sechrist Elementary. The 2nd place essay came from Mrs. Grimmett at Marshall Elementary and the 2nd place artwork came from Mr. Milios at Marshall Elementary. Winning students and their teachers will be recognized with certificates at the Coconino County Board of Supervisors meeting on January 15th at 6p.m.

Winning class will also 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 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 teachers of the winning entries will receive a checks for $300 for 1st place and $200 for 2nd place.

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.

12.01.2018 – Science Saturday: Sustainable Holiday Gift Making

Thank you for another great year of Science Saturdays. This year we served over 780 people at our Science Saturday events, with a wide range of themes such as geology, wildlife, water, and renewable energy. A huge thank you to all community members, interns, volunteers, and guest scientists for helping to make these events a success. We’ll see you next year at our next Science Saturday: Water, Ice, and Snow happening on January 5th, 2019.

With 68 wonderful people who attended December’s Science Saturday, Willow Bend had a sustainable gift-making extravaganza! Friends and family of all ages joined together in the creative spirit to get the holidays started on the right foot.

We had a number of fun crafts, like wood cookie and CD ornament decorating, along with pine cone creatures, bottle cap snowmen, and magazine collage card making. Oh! And we can’t forget the holiday bag and tag making, as to have a wonderful bag to put all of those hand-made gifts into. In addition, we created a display of alternative ways to wrap your gifts this year, using materials such as newspaper, an inside-out chip bag, or even an empty cereal box! We hope you had just as much fun as we did.

Science Saturday is an event held on the first Saturday of every month from 9am-1pm. Each month is focused on a different theme and each event offers fun and educational hands on activities.  Thanks to generous funding from the Flagstaff Arts Council and the City of Flagstaff BBB Revenues, this event is FREE and open to the public. No need to RSVP, you are welcome to join anytime between 9am-1pm.


Blog post written by Willow Bend interns Jill Wagner and Alyssa Eoff


11.15.18 Annual Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit


FLAGSTAFF, NOVEMBER 15th, 2018 – – – Get out your calendars! The 2nd Annual Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit will be held on April 16, 2019 at The Arboretum at Flagstaff. The Summit is a collaborative event with The Arboretum at Flagtstaff, City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program, and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center and will feature three challenges: the Climate Action Challenge, the KidWind Challenge, and the Solar Structure Challenge.

Each challenge is open to youth in 4th-12th grades 4-12 who form teams of 2-5 individuals and have an adult mentor. Teams can include youth from public schools, private schools, homeschool groups, afterschool groups, and community organizations (recreation or neighborhood centers, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Scout troops, etc). All teams who attend the Summit will compete for prizes and awards, attend workshops, and learn about climate action and sustainability in Flagstaff.

We are also offering support for challenge team leaders – teachers, informal educators, youth group leaders, parents, and other adult leaders. Join us for the Climate Change and Renewable Energy Teacher Workshop Jan 25th-26th – This two-day workshop will cover climate change and renewable energy curriculum, hands-on activities, teacher check-out kits, as well as useful information for those wanting to participate in the Annual Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit (including the Climate Action, KidWind, and Solar Structure Cchallenges). Information and activities are geared towards 4th-12th grades.

More information and to sign up visit: www.flagstaff.az.gov/YouthSummit

8.29.18 Annual 4th Grade Water Ethics Contest

The Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership (CPWP) in collaboration with Willow Bend Environmental Education Center invite 4th Grade classes throughout Northern Arizona to participate in our annual Water Ethic Contest!

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

If your class would like to participate please read the Poster Contest Guidelines 2018andOfficial Contest Entry Form 2018.doc(student’s guardian signature required). Please send your submissions to Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff AZ 86001. Deadline is October 30th, 2018.

The Public Outreach Committee will choose a first, second and third place winner, based on essay and artwork. Classes to which the winning students belong will be treated to an in-class party, including a pizza party for the 1st place student, an ice-cream social for 2nd place, and a popcorn party for 3rd. The winning students will receive additional prizes and all participating 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 a check for $300, $200, or $100.

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. Places already signed up for the bathroom posters include: the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor’s Center, City of Flagstaff, City of Williams, Hopi Water Resources, Northern Arizona University, US Fish and Wildlife, AZ Dept. of Water Resources, AZ Dept. of Environmental Quality, Coconino County, City of Sedona, Marshall Elementary School, and many more places throughout the community are in the process of getting the posters.

For more information contact Moran Henn at moran@willowbendcenter.org, or call (928) 699-6109.