04.06.2020 – Enter to win prizes in our Virtual Earth Day Art Contest!

Enter the Willow Bend Virtual Earth Day Art Contest for youth artists of all ages! Take on the challenge of creating a piece of 2-D art, using any medium or combination of media, that illustrates the theme:

Celebrating our Earth

Rules and Regulations

  • Children and youth (18 and under) can participate in the contest.
  • Submission must be two-dimensional and needs to on regular, letter-sized paper (8.5 by 11 inches).
  • Art work can use any medium or combination of media.
  • Only one entry per contestant.
  • Contestants can be from anywhere in the world.
  • Contestant may not enlist the help of others for their entry (other than to submit).
  • Artwork must be original and not violate any copyright laws.

    Deadline: April 20th at 5 p.m.

Contest themes: The art contest’s focus is “Celebrating our Earth”.

Themes can include any of the following:

  • Wildlife
  • Outdoor spaces (landscapes)
  • Promoting sustainability
  • Use of renewable energy

Age categories: 

There will be winners for three age group categories:

  • 7 years old and younger
  • 8-11 years old
  • 12-18 years old

Selection Criteria:

Entries will be judged based on creativity and connection to contest themes.

Submitted artwork will be judged by the Willow Bend Board of Directors. All artwork and announced winners and prizes will be posted on a virtual art gallery and presented on April 22nd, 2020 (Earth Day!).

How to Submit an Entry:

  1.  First, fill out the Parental/Guardian Earth Day 2020 Virtual Art Contest Permission Slip
  2. Next, e-mail an image of your entry to melissa@willowbendcenter.org .
  3. You’re all entered!

We look forward to seeing your entries and thanks for celebrating Earth Day with Willow Bend Environmental Education Center!

 

03.30.2020 – This Week’s Virtual Learning with Willow Bend

In an effort to stay true to our mission, and continue serving the community, we will begin providing environmentally focused programs through social media.We will offer two programs a week on Wednesdays and Fridays at 11am through Facebook Live. You can view these programs for free and find materials and schedules on our FB page. In addition we will post the schedules and activities each Monday on this blog. 

Program Schedule for April 1st and April 3rd:

Wednesday April 1st,  11am, Seeds on the Move: Seeds need to move and grow just like we do! This program will cover several methods of seed dispersal and end with a fun seed sprouting demonstration. You will need a plastic zip lock bag, a paper towel, and a seed (beans can be an option though they don’t always sprout).

Follow up activities include seed art templates. Just click on the image to download. Of course, you can also make your own!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, April 3rd,  11am, Exploring Earthworms Why are worms so important for the planet? What do they eat? How are their body parts different than ours? We will answer all this and more. Virtually meet our worm friends, and listen to a “heartworming” story.

Worm Search!

Click the image to download activity

 

 

 

 

Did you miss last week’s lessons on recycling and habitats? View the videos and activities here.

03.23.2020 – We are Going LIVE! Follow us on Facebook

In an effort to stay true to our mission, and continue serving the community, we will begin providing environmentally focused programs through social media.

We will offer two programs a week on Wednesdays and Fridays at 11am through Facebook Live. You can view these programs for free and find materials and schedules on our FB page. In addition we will post the schedules and activities each Monday on this blog. 

Program Schedule:

Wednesday March 25th, 11am: Recycling. What can and can’t be recycled in Flagstaff and other answers to your recycling questions. Link to downloadable recycling coloring sheet:Recycling Coloring Page

 

Friday March 27th, 11am: Habitat. What makes up a habitat? Learn about some Flagstaff animals and their habitat needs and sing the habitat song with us. 

Postponing Events and Programs

With a primary focus on keeping our community healthy, and in compliance with local and federal guidelines the Willow Bend Center will remain closed. All  workshops, tours, programs and events will be postponed until further notice. We will make sure to keep everyone informed as to new dates and plans. In the meantime, we hope everyone stays healthy and we look forward to seeing you all soon.

 

03.01.2020 – February Recap

Check of our recap of our February 2020 programs and events.

Science Saturday: The Five C’s of Arizona

We kicked off February 1st with our Science Saturday celebrating the five C’s of Arizona: cotton, citrus, cattle, copper and climate. This Science Saturday theme was developed by our intern, Xander, as a cumulative project, so a huge thank you to Xander for their hard work researching activities to make this event a success. Participants squeezed their own fresh orange juice, made copper etchings, practiced roping a (plastic) cow, played with solar devices…and more! We also had some cotton on display that was grown right here in Willow Bend Gardens. We were lucky to have the Pioneer Museum–Arizona Historical Society  join us to celebrate the five F’s of Flagstaff (can you guess what they are?)!  Special thanks to C-A-L Ranch for lending a roping cow for this event.  Last but not least, American Conservation Experience (ACE) members volunteered their time at this Science Saturday to help it run smoothly.

First Friday Recycling Center Tour

Did you know every first Friday we offer a free tour of the recycling center? On February 7th, 15 people joined us on our first Friday tour of the center to find out what can and cannot be recycled and how the facility works. Join us at our next  First Friday Recycling Center Tour  on March 6th!

Adult Workshop: Growing and Gardening with Native Plants

The Coconino County Cooperative Extension joined us at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center on February 8th to facilitate an Adult Workshop: Growing and Gardening with Native Plants. Gayle Gratop from the Coconino Cooperative Extension taught this fun workshop, and all participants had a blast. This workshop made us excited for spring and the days of gardening ahead!

Willow Bend Board of Directors Retreat 2020

The Willow Bend Board of Directors and Staff met on February 17th for our Annual Board Retreat to celebrate the past and present, as well as to strategize and dream about the future! Stay tuned to hear all of the wonderful ideas that came out of the board retreat.

 

Teacher Workshop: Story Maps in the Classroom

Eric Proctor, Wildlife Education Coordinator at Arizona Game and Fish, joined us at Willow Bend on February 22nd + 23rd to facilitate a 2-day “Story Maps in the Classroom” Educator Workshop. This workshop taught educators how to collect and organize data, then they transformed their data into map-centered digital stories through ArcGIS.  Thank you to Eric for joining us, and to the dedicated educators that attended this workshop all weekend so they can use this great tool in their classroom, clubs, and beyond!

Family Science: Eagle Celebration

On February 29th (hooray, leap year!), Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in partnership with AZ Game and Fish, Liberty Wildlife and the  Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience held its Annual Eagle Celebration. The celebration included morning field trips around Lake Mary to view wild bald eagles, as well as three talks at Willow Bend presented by AZ Game and Fish biologists and Willow Bend staff covering 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 event was the appearance of live eagles from Liberty Wildlife: Aurora the adult bald eagle and the Anasazi the golden eagle. The eagles displayed their impressive wingspan and their powerful talons 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. Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Eagle Celebration a success!

Intern and Volunteer Spotlight: Xander Wille

Xander finished their internship at Willow Bend in February and we will miss them! Xander was instrumental to helping our many events run smoothly. They helped us prep and plan activities, and also were a huge help in getting the center more organized. Thank you, Xander, for your hard work and we wish you all of the best. Interested in interning or volunteering with Willow Bend? Click here!

Classroom Program and Field Trip Highlights

  • Kinsey Elementary School 4th Graders had programs on both Walnut Canyon and Grand Canyon to prepare for their spring field trips to both locations. Kinsey 5th Graders had programs on water quality.
  • Flagstaff Arts & Leadership (FALA) and Flagstaff Junior Academy (FJA) middle and high schoolers had programs on waste reduction. Willow Bend also facilitated a teacher professional development program at Marshall Elementary School for all teachers as part of our Waste Reduction program.
  • Thomas Elementary School 3rd grade, Puente de Hózhó Elementary School 3rd grade, Knoles Elementary School 4th grade, and Cromer Elementary School kindergarteners had programs on outdoor STEM and stewardship—thanks to the support of the Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff for making these programs possible, and to Flagstaff Unified School District for their partnership.
  • Boys and Girls Club Flagstaff had a fun field trip to the recycling center.
Did Willow Bend visit your classroom in February? Did you learn something new at one of our community events? Submit a small write-up and we will feature it in our blog (content by students encouraged)! E-mail submissions to melissa@willowbendcenter.org.

What’s coming up in March? Join us at these community events:

03/06 (1PM) – First Friday Recycling Center Tour

03/07 (9AM-1PM) Science Saturday: Archaeology Month

03/09 (5-7PM) Willow Bend at STEM Night at NAU Dome

03/28 (10AM-12PM) Adult Workshop: Pine Needle Basket Making

Check out our calendar for more information.

A dusting of snow – February 23rd

Annual Eagle Celebration – Press Release

Annual Eagle Celebration

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.  – On Saturday, Feb 29th Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in partnership with AZ Game and Fish, Liberty Wildlife and the Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience held its Annual Eagle Celebration.

The day started with a morning field trip led by Coconino County Parks and Recreation staff, AZ Game and Fish Biologists and a number of volunteers. This year the event also included a second field trip later in the morning, especially geared towards families. The lucky groups spotted 6 juvenile and a nesting pair of bald eagles, as well as numerous waterfowl species.

The day continued with three talks at Willow Bend presented by AZ Game and Fish biologists and Willow Bend staff covering 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 eagles from Liberty Wildlife: Aurora the adult bald eagle and the Anasazi the golden eagle. The eagles displayed their impressive wing span and their powerful talons 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.

“This is a wonderful event and a great opportunity to educate the public, especially children, about eagles in hope of ensuring their continued survival” 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! Everyone enjoyed seeing eagles in their natural habitat during the field trip as well as learning about and seeing them up close at the presentation”.

“That was amazing!” concluded Max, one of the event’s 3rd grade participants.

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

02.02.2020 – January 2020 Recap

Wow, we had a busy month here at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center during the first month of 2020! Check of this recap of our January programs and events.

Science Saturday: Winter Tales, Plus New 2020 SS Passports!

Willow Bend had an amazing kick off to 2020’s Science Saturdays with our Winter Tales event on January 4th. Thank you to the Jones Benally family for joining our event and sharing traditional Dine winter stories. We also introduced our new Science Saturday passports! Get a stamp for every Science Saturday that you attend with your family in 2020. If you collect four stamps by our December Science Saturday, you can earn a prize! Pick up a passport and get your first stamp at our next Science Saturday: Archaeology on March 7th, between 9am-1pm.

Adult Workshop: Basics of Wildlife Tracking with Geoffrey Gross

Geoffrey Gross, Coconino County Natural Resource Supervisor, facilitated an engaging Basics of Wildlife Tracking adult workshop on January 11th. Seventeen participants joined Geoffrey on a hike around Sawmill Park/the FUTS trail, as well as an indoor presentation on tracking 101. Geoffrey also brought lots of impressive plaster and bronze track castings that he has made over the years. A huge thank you to Geoffrey for spending your Saturday with us.

Teacher Workshop: Climate Change and Renewable Energy

Through our Wind for Schools partnership, as well as support from the KidWind Project, the City of Flagstaff,  the Arboretum at Flagstaff, and Prometheus Solar, Willow Bend hosted a teacher workshop on climate change and renewable energy for 20 Arizona educators. The Climate Change portion was covered by Jillian Goulet, Sustainability AmeriCorps VISTA member, which introduced teachers to the Climate Action Challenge, covered the climate action tool kit and shared loads of resources teachers can use in their classroom for teaching climate change. Michael Arquin, CEO and Founder of the KidWind Project, joined us at Willow Bend Center (all the way from Saint Paul, MN) to facilitate the renewable energy portion of the workshop. Michael introduced the KidWind Project and the KidWind Challenge, and demonstrated several wind activities that teachers could easily do in their classrooms. Our KidWind Challenge in Flagstaff is coming up, and it’s not too late to sign up (link below). We would like to thank Whole Foods for donating a pastry tray and coffee for the teachers to enjoy. REGISTER FOR THE FLAGSTAFF KIDWIND CHALLENGE  Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 9-2PM at the Arboretum at Flagstaff (Sign-up required)

Classroom Program and Field Trip Highlights

  • Members of Mountain Elementary School’s Environmental Club joined Willow Bend for tours of the Recycling Center.
  • We visited over 30 classes (at Flagstaff Junior Academy and Marshall Elementary)  to deliver programs on waste reduction.
  • Willow Bend staff visited multiple grades at Kinsey for a variety of programs on Walnut Canyon, winter weather, insects, and more!

 

Did Willow Bend visit your classroom in February? Submit a small write-up and we will feature it in our blog (content by students encouraged)! E-mail submissions to melissa@willowbendcenter.org.

 

What’s coming up in February? Join us at these community events:

02/07 (1PM) –  First Friday Recycling Center Tour

02/08 (10AM-12PM) Adult Workshop: Growing and Gardening with Native Plants

02/22 + 02/23 – (9AM-3pm) Teacher Workshop: Story Maps in the Classroom

02/29 (several sessions to sign up for): Family Science: Annual Eagle Celebration 

Check out our calendar for more information.

 

This guest blog post was written by Laura Sherrill, who recently finished her internship at Willow Bend. We would like to thank Laura for her hard work and wish her all the luck in her future endeavors!

Hello and Happy New Year to all!

My name is Laura Sherrill and I was an intern at Willow Bend during the year of 2019. My time here was largely spent preparing for classroom programs, tabling at events around Flagstaff,  facilitating activities at our monthly Science Saturday events, and blogging about the different programs that Willow Bend undertakes. I truly appreciated the flexibility and variety in work assignments that Willow Bend was able to provide; I never felt stifled or bored here. 

As an intern, I have gained incredibly valuable lessons that will help me as I embark on my professional career journey. First and foremost, working with young children is incredibly difficult. It requires an immense amount of patience, and holding the attention of a group of preschoolers long enough to teach them something is no small feat. I endlessly admire those who have the skills necessary to teach kids, and I am glad I learned early on in life that I do not.  

Additionally, I experienced firsthand that, oftentimes, important education work is undervalued and underfunded. As marked by the RED for ED movement that swept Arizona, education is a sector that has not been invested in enough to provide students and teachers with successful learning environments. However, it was truly amazing to witness the support that exists for educational efforts within the Flagstaff community despite the pressure of budget allocations. 

At Willow Bend’s Annual Celebration, people from all different paths came together to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and raise money to be able to continue to work and reach even more people in the future. It is through grassroots support and funding that Willow Bend is able to succeed; it is a team effort. 

I feel especially lucky to have been a part of an organization that strengthens and unites the Flagstaff community in a common goal: teaching everyone about the natural world. As my time at Willow Bend, and as a student in University, draws to a close, I feel unsure of where my next destination in life will be. However, I am incredibly grateful for the experiences that Willow Bend has allowed me to have, as they will guide me in the coming years. 

Let us all continue to work toward cultivating care for the natural world in the new year.

 

09.07.2019 – – Science Saturday: Colorado River – Fish and Watersheds

Blog Post written by Willow Bend Intern Xander Wille

Over the weekend, Willow bend hosted its monthly event, Science Saturday. The theme of this month: The Colorado River, including its fish and surrounding watersheds! We spent the day learning about the water cycle, as well as native and invasive aquatic species. This is important information that we are happy to share with the public because Flagstaff is located on the watershed lower basin of the Little Colorado River!

Families familiar with Willow Bend, as well as some passersby, were excited to see some visitors from just out of town. The guests included a variety of small fish, a 30-pound catfish (which will grow 3x its current size!), and even a painted turtle. After spending some time with the animals, kids could craft a nature journal, color some fish, and design a color coded paper watershed meant to educate the youth about how a watershed could potentially carry mine debris into a nearby city or farm. Additionally, many people volunteered to help outdoors for some upcoming garden projects.

Although it was fascinating to be able to look at and touch some of the creatures of the Colorado River, we learned there are rules against transporting animals around the state, especially invasive species such as the catfish. Why not keep them as pets? Well, because catfish are not from the Colorado River, so when they get too big to live at home, people might release them into the wild, which can have catastrophic effects on the delicately balanced ecosystem. The problem with catfish in Arizona is that they will eat the native species and eventually take over the environment, but the good news, humans can eat them in an effort to protect the native species.

Science Saturdays at Willow Bend are always very informative, and usually pretty crafty, they’re sure to be a great time. If you missed our September event, be sure to stop by between 9 am and 1 pm next month. October 5th is all about Bats! We’ll have AZ bat displays, research information, and of course, lots of crafts!

 

8.24.19 Annual Celebration Waste Report

Being an environmental center we do our very best to walk the walk not just talk the talk. This holds true not only to our programs, but to events as well. This year for our Annual Celebration we were excited to partner with Parxis Waste Solutions. 

Events, as enjoyable as they are, tend to produce a lot of waste. We already apply many aspects of the zero waste philosophy by using reusable plates and cups (from Friends of Flagstaff’s Future), composting, and recycling. However, this year the Parxis team took it to a new level. By physically setting up a waste collection station, they added an important educational piece to our waste reduction efforts and did a great job targeting the areas we overlooked.

After collecting, sorting, and weighing our waste Praxis created a waste diversion chart for us. This kind of information is very helpful. We can now assess what is working well and where we can improve.

If you have an event coming up we HIGHLY recommend working with Praxis to reduce and divert as much waste as possible and educate participants about waste solutions and options.

Below if our waste diversion information, or “score sheet”. We did pretty well 95.2% of waste diverted!