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EAC STEM Partnership holds youth day event at BLM Sands Draw site

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EAC STEM Partnership holds youth day event at BLM Sands Draw site

By Lexi Lutz

Thatcher, AZ—Last month, Eastern Arizona College biology instructor, Aaron Burk, led nearly 50 high school students from Thatcher and Pima along with interns from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education Coalition, and the EAC BIO 295 Biological Research class to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Sands Draw site to learn about habitat restoration. The students observed and learned about water quality protocols demonstrated by the EAC BIO 295 class. Students later observed previous and on-going habitat restoration efforts and participated in planting cottonwood trees and milkweeds donated by The Nature Conservancy Muleshoe Ranch and Discovery Park Campus greenhouse.

“These activities are a regular part of the Eastern Arizona College BIO 295 curricula,” said course instructor Dave Henson.

The BLM-EAC STEM Partnership has hosted one or two youth day events each year for the past four years dealing with ongoing grassland and riparian restoration projects. As plant materials are field-tested at Sands Draw, the EAC Discovery Park Campus greenhouse will begin to produce those plant materials so they can be available for future habitat restoration projects. This research has been funded primarily by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Next Generation of Conservationists.

“The long term idea is for students to continue to be involved in outdoor education and post treatment monitoring for many years to come,” said Henson.

EAC wildlife biology major Hannah Rosen said, “It was a great opportunity to incorporate high school students into an ongoing restoration project, providing a hands-on, STEM based experience that hopefully invoked a sense of stewardship, and a commitment toward future involvement in protecting the environment.”

For more information about the Biological Research program at EAC or this project, contact Henson at 428-8366 or Dave Henson.