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Audubon Arizona, National Forest Foundation and NAU Introduce Students to Careers in Conservation
The APS Foundation recently awarded a $15,000 grant to Audubon Arizona for their River Pathways program, a hands-on program geared toward transforming high school students into the next generation of conservation leaders. Thanks to funding from APS and other corporate and federal donors, the River Pathways program includes a new partnership among Audubon, the National Forest Foundation (NFF), and Northern Arizona University (NAU).
In response to a fire in 2017 near Granite Reef Recreation Area, a popular river-access point to Lower Salt River and within an area designated as being important for the conservation of Arizona’s bird populations, scientists and graduate students from NAU have designed and implemented a restoration project to reforest the lower Salt River. NAU and NFF have been working since early this year to plant thousands of trees along this stretch of the Salt River.
The Audubon River Pathways field trips introduce high school students to the important work related to project monitoring and data collection. Each field trip starts with a survey of the affected area. The students then learn to use an Audubon key to monitor progress of the reforestation efforts. The field trip concludes with a visit with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Nest Watch crew as the students learn about Arizona’s nesting bald eagles and what a job in wildlife biology looks like.
“The lessons these students are learning through Audubon’s exciting and educational program will help to inspire the next wave of conservation professionals needed to protect Arizona’s unique environment,” said Tina Marie Tentori, executive director of the APS Foundation. “We are honored to be able to play a role in ensuring the livelihood of our majestic landscape for generations to come.”
The first River Pathways field trip to the lower Salt River was February 12, with a group of students from Desert Edge High School. Another took place March 11 with a group from the Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona, andtook place on Friday, March 29 with a group from Maryvale High School.