FREE Guided Downtown Geology Tours

Through generous funding from Mountain Sports Flagstaff and 1% for the Planet, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center will be offering guided Downtown Geology Tours twice a month, June-August.


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.  Tours will be offered bi-monthly on the first Tuesday and third Saturday from June thru August.

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.

IMG_7586Participants 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.

Tours will meet at 11:30am outside Mountain Sports Flagstaff 24 N. San Francisco, every first Tuesday and third Saturday of the month between June and August. Dates include, June 7th and 18th, July 5th and 16th, August 2nd and 20th. The tour is FREE and will be limited to 20 participants. Sign-up in advance with Willow Bend,, or pick up a FREE ticket at Mountain Sports Flagstaff, 24 N. San Francisco. Tickets and sign-up for the entire summer are available beginning June 3rd. Comfortable walking shoes, water and a sun hat are recommended. Tour is wheelchair and stroller accessible and suitable for all ages.

NEW Community Guided Tours to Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve

Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in partnership with the Open Space Program within the City of Flagstaff’s Sustainability Section is pleased to announce that starting in June 2016 and throughout the summer months (June-September) we will be leading FREE guided tours to Picture Canyon.

Tours will last 2-3 hours and cover some of the history, ecology, geology, and archeology of Picture Canyon. The 3-mile loop will offer viewing, photography, and educational opportunities and will cover iconic sites along the way including Flagstaff’s only waterfall, Northern Sinagua petroglyphs and dwelling sites, and the Rio de Flag.

pictue canyon

Tours will meet on the second Saturday of the month (June-September) at 9am at the Picture Canyon Trailhead off of El Paso Flagstaff Road. From downtown Flagstaff, travel west on Route 66 toward the Flagstaff Mall. Turn right on Route 66 and left on El Paso Flagstaff Road. The trailhead is approximately ½ mile down the road on the right side.


Participants will walk approximately 3 miles on uneven trails and are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, and a water bottle. The tour is free and offered on a first come first serve basis. Families are welcome, but please note the trail is not stroller suitable, and might be a little strenuous for young children.

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In addition to free community tours the partnership will include free guided field trips for Flagstaff schools and community groups during the school year, starting in September 2016. All trips must be scheduled in advance. To schedule a group or class field trip contact Cassandra Roberts, (928) 779 1745.

Cassandra Roberts, Willow Bend’s Educational Director, and tour guide, is excited about this opportunity, “We have been working with the Open Space Program for almost a year, and I am excited to expand our partnership and offer more opportunities for the public to get outside and learn about our beautiful natural and cultural resources”. Betsy Emery, Open Space Specialist, added that the City’s Open Space Program has received a number of requests for these types of tours since the City acquired Picture Canyon in 2012. The Open Space Program is excited to partner with Willow Bend to provide the community with educational tours of the high quality Willow Bend is known for.

Picture Canyon, located in northeast Flagstaff, is a natural and cultural amenity in northern Arizona, serving as a critical riparian habitat, popular recreation corridor, and home to significant cultural and archaeological resources. Through a 2004 voter approved Open Space bond and a 2012 Growing Smarter Grant, the City of Flagstaff successfully acquired this 477.8 acre parcel of land and is now working hard to make it accessible and enjoyable by residents and visitors.

For more information about the tours please visit, or contact (928)779-1745.




Annual Celebration and Benefit

Join Willow Bend for a fun and casual afternoon celebrating our yearly accomplishment and upcoming plans. June marks the end of our fiscal year and July is the beginning of a new one, help us celebrate our accomplishments and kick-off our new fiscal year. Food, wine, music, and great people.

June 8th 5-7pm at Willo11226183_10153626046081972_5432387920983794544_nw Bend Environmental Education Center (703 E. Sawmill Rd. Flagstaff, az, 86001). The event is FREE* and open to the public. RSVP greatly appreciated, email Moran Henn at, or call (928) 779-1745.

Amazing appetizers from the Cottage Place, wine, short program, silent auction (with unique and wonderful items), music, tour of the gardens, information about upcoming events, and most importantly, great people who value environmental education.

*a $10 suggested donation will be greatly appreciated.




Family Science Amazing Arthropods

Join Willow Bend and Northern Arizona University, Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research for a creepy, crawly and super exciting arthropod event: It’s a Bugs Life!

Families will learn all about these amazing little creatures, from tarantulas to beetles, and have an opportunity to see real, live bugs up close! A Short educational presentation will be followed by observations of live animals. Event is open to families with children 4 and up. Sign-up required. $5/participant or FREE for Willow Bend members.

More information call (928) 779-1745 or email

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Science Saturday Rio De Flag, May 7th 9-1pm

Join us for our monthly FREE Science Saturday event (every first Saturday of the month). This month’s theme: Rio De Flag.

Over the past few months we have been delivering special Rio De Flag focused programs to various FUSD schools including Knoles, Kinsey, and Alpine at MEMS as part of our Flagstaff Community Foundation grant. This event will be a celebration of the student’s hard work and an opportunity to showcase what they have learned. Plus, hands on watershed and Rio activities including our 3D terrain model, kids related crafts and more.

Join us anytime 9-1pm at Willow Bend. No RSVP required.





Arbor Day Rio De Flag Restoration Volunteer Event

Join The Arboretum, Willow Bend and APS at the Rio de Flag for a clean up in honor of Arbor Day on April 30th from 8am-1pm. Meet outside Willow Bend 703 E Sawmill Rd.

8am – Informational guided hike of the Rio de Flag with Jack Welch and Lynne Nemeth.
9-12pm Willow Bend/Rio Clean Up. Join us anytime throughout the day. We will be pulling up invasive weeds, planting trees and shrubs and enlarging the Willow Bend pollinator and medicinal plant gardens. Kids welcome!

Snacks, tools, gloves, and water will be provided. Plus, FREE raffle sponsored by APS and REI. Awesome gifts including trees, native plants, REI items and more! Tree pruning and professional tree selection advice will be offered throughout the day at the sign-up table.

Sign up with Shannon Benjamin at | (928) 774-1442 x127 or just show up the day of.

A huge thank you to all of our wonderful partners on this event!
REI, City of Flagstaff, Coconino County Parks and Rec Department, Friends of the Rio de Flag, Friends of Flagstaff’s Future.

Volunteer and Member Jack Welch pitches in during an Earth Day clean up

AZ Gives Day: Local Festival Donates a Portion of Proceeds to Support Environmental Education

To celebrate Arizona Gives Day, a beautiful local partnership between Firefly Gathering Festival and The Flagstaff Music Festival charity has chosen to donate a portion of their Festival proceeds to Willow Bend Environmental Education Center. AZ Gives Day is a grassroots statewide day of giving, a one day online campaign for Arizona’s nonprofits to raise as much donors and money as possible in a 24-hour period.

Firefly Gatherings is a local Festival designed to inspire profound positive social and individual growth by providing the opportunity to connect deeply, learn unique skills, become inspired, and celebrate life. Flagstaff Music Festival is made up of community members Bob Miller, Mike Taylor, Rand Jenkins, Andrea Wittekind, and Laura Rivero whose mission is to develop, organize and promote performance arts such as music, dance and theater for the purpose of bringing the performance arts to the State of Arizona and to donate revenue as created by these events to charitable organizations. Willow Bend Environmental Education Center provides education outreach services that build environmental awareness and an ethic of responsible stewardship of our natural and cultural resources. With ever decreasing funds for education the organization is relying on community members and partners to help support its critical work.

FMF Founder Mike Taylor thinks that this donation is important for all three organizations because, “We are proud to support Willow Bend’s mission. They are a great local organization providing education, outreach, art and a place for better connecting with our environment.”  Andrea Wittekind, one of the founding members of Firefly Gathering sees an inspiring alignment between Firefly and Willow Bend, saying “it takes communities supporting each other’s endeavors in order for us all to thrive and continue with our goals. Firefly has strived to model and teach strong environmental ethics within itself, the local community and its reaches. Paying it forward is crucial to supporting ongoing education and building awareness. Firefly is thrilled to be supporting Willow Bend, and looks forward to future opportunities for collaboration and promoting its excellence. ”

Willow Bend’s Executive Director, Moran Henn is very excited to receive these much needed funds and is thrilled for the kinds of projects they will go to support, for instance, upcoming Saturday Science events, free community events held every first Saturday of the month. “with this generous gift we will be able to engage even more community members, and provide opportunities for new families to experience hands on environmental programing and activities” said Henn.

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AZ Gives Day April 5th 2016

This Arizona Gives Day, April 5th, invest in environmental education and contribute to Willow Bend.


Willow Bend is Coconino County’s ONLY year-round full-time environmental education center. We serve over 18,000 students, residents and visitors a year delivering programs that build environmental awareness and promote an ethic of responsible stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.

We are funded by individuals and businesses who value and understand the importance of environmental education and want to take an active role in building the kind of world we want to live in — socially, environmentally, and economically — a world we want our children and grandchildren to inherit.

Every donation is significant! No gift is too small!

Thank you for your support,
The Willow Bend team

az gives day 2016

Adult Education Workshop: Introduction to Fermentation

Join us for an introduction to fermentation workshop on Saturday, April 16th 10-12.

About Fermentation: Fermentation is one of the oldest methods for preserving food. All around the world people have been transforming food with the help of microbes for thousands of years. Fermented foods likely make up a large part of your diet including foods such as chocolate, cheese, coffee, yogurt, olives, salami, and beer and wine. Fermented foods are popular because they often result in unique and complex flavor-packed foods that cannot be found elsewhere. In recent years we are seeing more and more people turning back to traditional fermenting traditions to embrace healthy, flavorful, and affordable foods.

About the Workshop: The purpose of this workshop is to provide you some basic knowledge about fermenting foods. We will delve into both the scientific basis of how fermented foods affect health and the techniques used for at-home fermentation projects. We will focus on fermented foods including kombucha tea, vegetable ferments, sauerkraut, and honey ferments.

Workshop participants will be able to sample various fermented foods at a “tasting station” and will go home with kombucha starter kit including a kombucha scoby, a starter amount of kombucha tea, and instructions on how to brew your own.

Cost: $25. Limited spots. Sign up required.

Presenters Bios: Mike Dechter – Mike has been an ecologist and environmental planner for over a decadmikee. He has been collecting and cooking with wild and fermented foods for the past several years. Mike works with local restaurants and other organizations such as the Flagstaff Arboretum to educate others on local and wild foods and use traditional knowledge to make them both relevant and delicious.


jakeJake Ochsankehl – Jake is a cuisine and food enthusiast. He has been working in restaurants for nine years and has turned his eye to foraging and fermentation for the last two years. Jake is currently the head chef for the restaurants associated with the Weatherford Hotel.


April Science Saturday: Energy!

Join us for another exciting Science Saturday event on April 2nd from 9-1 at Willow Bend.

This month’s theme: energy. Hands on activities with Wind for Schools, Prometheus Solar and Findlay Toyota.

Make your own wind turbine, eat delicious solar oven s’mores, learn all about the Plug and Play solar kit, play fun games, and see the inside of a brand new Toyota Prius.

Plus Prometheus Solar will be giving away FREE Belkin Conserve Insight energy monitors ($30 value each!) to the first families who attend and participate in the activities (so make sure you come early). And Findlay Toyota will be BBQ hot dogs and burgers from 11-12:30!

You don’t want to miss this one so bring the whole family and join the fun.

FREE event open to the community. All ages welcome! No need to sign up, join us anytime throughout the day!

Questions? Call (928) 779 1745 or

elkton-public-school-students maxresdefault PRIUS3 photo-smores