Journey of BRN Sonoran Interns
By: Clarissa Moreno, Sofía Vargas, Anays Blanco & Jorge Chacón, BRN Sonoran Interns
Last summer, Mexican university students and young professionals completed Borderlands Restoration Network’s Sonoran Field Course, hosted between the beautiful plateaus of the northern border of Sonora and Chihuahua, in the private natural reserve “Los Ojos", officially designated as an Area Voluntarily Designated for Conservation near Agua Prieta, Sonora. As part of the program, we (Clarissa, Sofia, Anays & Jorge) were selected as the 2021-2022 Sonoran Field Course interns. Now, we find ourselves with blossoming ideas, preparing the second iteration of this course, which integrates the skills developed in its first edition and new aspects that will provide a more comprehensive, diverse, and renewed vision.
We began a journey which has been essential to connect with our environment and with people who seek to improve their communities. Along the way, we have been adding partners, ideas, knowledge, experiences, and building a collaborative network that allows us to re-establish the link between the community and our natural environment, by building healthier and resilient spaces for the different life forms that share it.
An exceptional elementary school: Palo Alto American School
Palo Alto Escuela Americana is a private bilingual school in Hermosillo, Sonora. The school has an Ecology Club that coordinates projects of aquaponics, vermicomposting and a small vineyard to encourage children’s environmental awareness perspective. From the summer of 2020 through spring of 2021, Sonoran Interns Omar, Miranda, Anays and Jorge worked together with Palo Alto to build a native plant greenhouse that is currently growing native trees that were first germinated last year. We, as the new generation of Sonoran Interns, continue to support this project by helping with seed collection, facilitating native plant trainings including seed treatment and germination techniques and sharing knowledge about the importance of native plants.
Another project currently being developed with Palo Alto that is very exciting for us, involved the implementation of green infrastructure by restoring a median located next to the school. The project consisted of implementing passive rainwater harvesting systems and planting native plants into the landscape. Through collaboration, we worked on the design and agreements with the neighbors in the area, and the Hermosillo Municipality's Parks and Gardens Department, who have greatly supported this project. We hope that this median will act as a case study and a demonstration site for the next Sonoran Field Course.
In search for mobilizers
We are currently preparing for the 2022 Sonoran Field Course and we are looking for new leaders who will represent the ideals of conservation for their communities through the application of strategies that will strengthen collaborative networks by connecting with local partners and improving community spaces through their restoration. For this, we have conducted planning sessions in which we materialized ideas and a strategic plan that will allow the Sonoran Field Course to be more varied and diverse for learning of ecological restoration and economic restoration techniques.
The entire team of interns and graduates are collaborating to make possible this great learning experience that will begin in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, to address the urban component and then move to Voluntary Conservation Areas such as Cuenca Los Ojos that are part of important biological corridors in the northeast of the state. We hope that this new approach can further inspire a new generation of conservation leaders.
To read the Spanish version of this blog, please click here.
Scorpions, an Extraordinary Species
By: Cholla Rose Nicoll, Borderlands Wildlife Preserve Coordinator
April always has me thinking about eggs. The stores are full of Easter merchandise, and eggs are everywhere. Growing up in Tucson, I even remember one spring finding a lizard egg in our front yard and marveling at its tiny size, full of wonder as to what it would become. So many incredible animals in the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve start their lives inside a protective shell. One of the most amazing animals that many might think hatches out of an egg is the scorpion, but unlike many other insects scorpions give birth to live young.
Scorpions tend to give birth to their young in the summertime and, depending on the species, sometimes ride around on their mother's back until their first molt when they are mature enough to survive on their own. All scorpions are predators and, as such, fill an important role by consuming other small animals, including cockroaches. Some natural ways to deter scorpions on your property are likely to impede their prey. Keep yard waste, and food scraps cleaned up and eliminate bug-attracting lights and water sources.
Giant Hairy Scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis).
Scorpions can be found on every continent except Antarctica and are an incredibly ancient species dating back approximately 400 million years. Scorpions have changed very little over their existence as a species and could be a valuable indicator of overall ecosystem health. Over thirty scorpion species can be found in Arizona, yet the only one considered dangerous to humans is the bark scorpion (Centruroides exilicauda). For more information on bark scorpions and what to do if you encounter one, please visit Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.
Part of the responsibility and fun of living in a highly biologically diverse region is enjoying the cute and cuddly critters like bunnies and baby birds and understanding and protecting creatures like scorpions, snakes, and spiders. One safe way to explore the world of scorpions is to take advantage of another fun fact, scorpions all fluoresce or glow under UV light. Purchase a UV flashlight and head out on a warm summer night. Look near the base of walls or under trees and bushes for a bright green glow. Keep a safe distance and as with any other wild animal, do not touch or capture it but observe an animal that has been surviving for a very, very long time.
If you are interested in learning more about scorpions in our region, I would highly recommend reading the book Amazing Arachnids by local author Jillian Cowles.
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