Frances Short Pond Outdoor Classroom Dedication

Willow Bend is excited to join the city’s Community Design and Redevelopment Department as they announce the completion and dedication of the Outdoor Classroom at Frances Short Pond. The classroom is located next to the Veit cabin and both will be used for environmental education.

Willow Bend has been leading field trips for k-12 graders to the Pond for over 30 years. We were excited to initiate the outdoor classroom idea, and partner on it’s design and implementation. The classroom’s natural setting will help us deliver programs about the Rio de Flag riparian corridor as well as local flora and fauna.

Included by the city’s Beautification and Public Art Commission as one of several planned amenities to be installed in the park, the classroom’s amphitheater style seating and podium are oriented to take advantage of views to the Peaks. The classroom is constructed from local malpais boulders and planted with native grasses to revegetate the areas disturbed by construction.  Sustainability is promoted through the use of locally sourced building materials which contain only small amounts of embedded energy.

The completion of the classroom continues the work begun almost 50 years ago by Jim David and others, to preserve the pond’s natural history and ensure its availability as open space. Over the years, students have used the pond as an outdoor laboratory, developing and learning from dozens of environmental education projects and experiments in and around the pond including creating an archaeological dig near the pond, planting cottonwoods, willows, and junipers near its banks, and creating the island habitat in the middle of the pond.

This BBB funded project was designed by the city’s Community Design and Redevelopment staff and built by volunteers from the Flagstaff Rotary Club, with assistance from the city’s Parks Department and Willow Bend.

The outdoor classroom is free and open to the public on a first come first-served basis.

Dedication of the Classroom including short speeches, light refreshments, and a tour of the cabin and the Pond is set for noon, October 17, 2017,

Frances Short Pond Outdoor Classroom construction in progress


It’s been a great summer with lots of wonderful partnerships. Specifically, we would like to mention and THANK:

Mountain Sports Flagstaff for their support through their 1% for the Planet Program. This is the second year in which Mountain Sports sponsored our Downtown Geology Tours offering free tours to the community. With their support we were able to host 2 tours a month, between June-September.




Back West Celebration of Stone Balancing for their generous donation. The event had over 300 participants and donated 100% of the event’s profits to Willow Bend and Flagstaff Arts Council.



Thank you to these generous partnerships for supporting our programs, events, and ongoing work.


Annual 4th Grade Water Ethics Contest

Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in collaboration with The Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership (CPWP) invite 4th Grade classes throughout Northern Arizona to participate in our 8th annual Water Ethic Contest.

In order to introduce children to the concept of the ethical use of water, we are 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.

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 official entry form
  • Accomplished solely by student, but can have teach-er/parent guidance
  • Students can work in pairs on entries

Entry Form: Please attach this Official Contest Entry Form.

Where to send: please mail or drop off submissions to Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, 703 E. Sawmill Rd, Flagstaff AZ 86001.

Deadline: October 30th, 2017 at 5pm.

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: 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.

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. 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.

This year’s submissions will also be featured at the Coconino Center For The Arts Fall 2019 special engagement all about water! The exhibit will incorporate professional artists who have participated in programs geared towards education on water awareness hosted by the Coconino Plateau Water Advisory Council and other 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.

If you have questions about the contest, please contact Sarah Carbajal at (928) 779-1745 or

Our New Vehicle is a 2010 Prius!

In case you missed the Annual Celebration, on Wednesday August 23rd 2017, and therefore missed the unveiling of our new vehicle, here is a special update just for you.

Our new vehicle is a 2010 silver Prius. We purchased it through a partnership with Findlay Toyota. We are very excited about the vehicle, but NEED YOUR HELP to give it a WB look and feel. Participate in our Name the Vehicle Contest, or just make a donation and designate it to “paint the vehicle” (you can add that in the donation comment box).

If you see us driving it around town on our way to or from a program/field trip/guided tour, be sure to wave and say hi.

Announcing Our New Staff Member: Melissa Eckstrom

Willow Bend is excited to announce that after a rigorous search and long interview process (with many highly qualified applicants) we finally found and hired a new Education and Outreach Assistant!

We would like to extend a warm Willow Bend welcome to Melissa Eckstrom!

Melissa holds a B.A in Sustainable Agriculture from Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, VT. She has served in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps in the American Midwest, as well as the United States Peace Corps in Jamaica. She is passionate about environmental education and has shared her love of the natural world while creating programming for schools and camps, managing gardens, and playing songs about worms on her ukulele. Melissa loves to ride her bicycle, bake bread, and draw silly comics in her sketchbook.

We hope you will soon get to meet Melissa, at the Center, teaching a program, leading a field trip or running one of our community events. Make sure to introduce yourself and welcome her to the Willow Bend family.


Name the Vehicle – Win Prizes!

Now that our Bio Bug is gone, we have a new awesome Prius from Findlay Toyota (see previous post for vehicle updates).

But, our new vehicle needs a name (and paint work to make it Willow Bend)!


What: Help us raise funds by donating $2 per name suggestion. Make as many suggestions as you want. A committee made up of Willow Bend staff, board members, and students will review all the name suggestions and choose one lucky winner!

When: Between August 23rd-September 23rd. Winner will be announced on September 30th, during the Annual Sustainable Building Tour (don’t need to be present to win).

Winner Prize (if your name is picked): Findlay Toyota Oil Change (for adults) and a Bookman’s gift certificate (for kids).

How to participate: You have lots of opportunities to participate: August 23rd during our annual celebration. Sep 1st at our table at the Coconino County Fair, September 2nd during our Science Saturday Colorado River Days, Sep 23rd at our table at the Festival of Science Science in the Park event or at our Center during the Stone Balancing event (same day). We are working on an online process, but in the meantime, you are always welcome to stop by our center if none of these events work for you. Remember, $2/name suggestion.

T-Shirts Are In!

The NEW limited edition Willow Bend T-shirts are in. Two colors to choose from (light blue and tan). Get them while they last. FREE with a new or renewed membership during our Annual Celebration on August 23rd, or $15 for the general public, or $10 for current members. Lots of different sized available. After the event they will be available at our center or duing programs and tabling events for $20.

Design includes the Willow Bend logo on the front left side, and a quote on the back by Albert Einstein: “Look into nature and then you will understand everything better”.






Not in town? You can order shirts by calling our office (928) 779-1745 or e mailing Add $5 delivery and processing fee.

Thanks to Lucky Dog T-Shirts for working with us.

Annual Celebration: The Auction

We are super excited about our Annual Celebration on Wednesday, August 23rd at 5pm. In this post we would like to share with you some of the amazing auction items we will have, so you can come ready to bid! We will be updating this with new images, so check make sure you check back before Wednesday.

Here are just some of the things we will have:

Shonto Begay signed and framed art, massage gift certificates, Charley’s gift certificate, Sportsmen’s Warehouse gift certificate, beautiful glass wine glasses by local artist Christina Norlin, forged antelope-head metal coat hook by Denise Edwards, Grand Canyon Deer Farm passes, “Coffee Lovers” gift basket, Lumberyard gift basket and gift certificate, Patagonia backpack, dog paw protectors (snow boots), Jay’s Bird Barn bird feeder and feed, quilter pot holders, Airbnb stay in downtown Flagstaff, olive oil and MORE!








We will also have a raffle for a beautiful Flagstaff Community Market basket, as well as other items inducing books, coffee, olive oil and more!

Annual Celebration, Thank You to Our Sponsors

We are so excited for our Annual Celebration on Wednesday, August 23rd at 5pm. We wanted to give a shout out to our sponsor (as well as thank our auction item donors, see auction item post for more info on the auction and raffle). Thank you to these amazing businesses for supporting environmental education.

We would like to THANK:

Fratelli’s Pizza! They will be bringing their pizza truck and providing us with deliciously fresh pizza and salad (make sure you arrive on time, as they will be serving pizza from 5-6pm).




Joy Cone for donating ice cream cones (including gluten free ones!) for the dessert. Because it’s not a party without the ice cream.



Mother Road Brewing Company who will be donating their locally brewed beer.

Willow Bend Vehicle Updates

You might remember, that back in November 2016 our reliable (and beloved) Willow Bend Bio-Bug was vandalized

Many of our amazing supporters generously donated to help us get it fixed, and local businesses including Findlay Toyota and Anderson Tires were willing to assist with labor and parts.

However, as is often the case with insurance companies, the process of estimating damage costs took a very long time.



Biobug on the way to get fixed!

Unfortunately, in March 2017, the insurance company went ahead and totaled the vehicle. It apparently sustained more damage than originally estimated. After quite a lot of back and forth (trying to save the vehicle), we all had to say our goodbyes, as it was towed to a salvage yard.

We spent the summer trying to figure out our options. We wanted a vehicle that was not only reliable, but one that was aligned with our mission and vision. Just as our Center is a strawbale passive solar building, we felt that our vehicle needs to reflect the work we do and the values we teach. But our budget was limited to the generous donations we received to fix the Bio-Bug and from the insurance and it was hard to find a good, affodrable and reliable, fit.

Outside Findlay Toyota ready to pick our vehicle (no, its not a truck).

Drum roll please…We are super excited to announce, that Findlay Toyota in Flagstaff was willing to work with us and and gave us a significant break on an amazing vehicle.

Curious? Want to meet the new Willow Bend Vehicle? Unveiling (and car naming contest) will take place during our Annual Members’ Celebration, Wednesday August 23rd 5-7pm (Can’t make the event? Follow us on FB, and our blog, as we will be posting pictures after the event).



to EVERYONE who donated towards this cause and to Findlay Toyota for their generous support.  Stay tuned for the unveiling and for the new name contest!