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  • Writer's pictureJavier Noriega

The Best Days of my Summer

I had an incredible experience in the third Sonoran Field Course in July! My colleagues, facilitators, and educators from Borderlands Restoration Network and I adventured on a nine-day excursion to different institutions and ranches, an experience I will undoubtedly remember with much affection and excitement. We learned so much, reinforced our knowledge, and managed to awaken our interest in other areas while having fun at the same time. They were undoubtedly the best days of my summer.


SFC participants visited various ranches owned by Cuenca Los Ojos.
SFC participants visited various ranches owned by Cuenca Los Ojos.

One day before the course, I was a little nervous. I didn't know anyone, was far from home, and had no idea what to expect, but during the introduction to the course, I knew I was in for something great, and I couldn't have been more right! It was a few days full of fun and learning.


On the first day, my classmates and I introduced ourselves, and I immediately identified with many of their interests and hobbies, which made me feel confident. We had lectures on various topics, such as permaculture and the indigenous cultures of Sonora. We met some projects of graduates from past years and an activity to get to know each other better.


Members of Caminantes del Desierto giving a talk during the SFC stage in Hermosillo.
Members of Caminantes del Desierto giving a talk during the SFC stage in Hermosillo.

On the second day, we were shown the work done by Caminantes del Desierto, a group dedicated to preserving natural areas in Hermosillo. That day, we met Citlalli and Luis Ignacio, two people belonging to the collective who have dedicated a lot of effort and time to this purpose. I had already heard of them, but I had never seen their work, and without a doubt, doing so makes me admire them.


Later, we arrived at El Aribabi Conservation Ranch, a place I had wanted to visit for a long time. There, I realized the true importance of the Areas Voluntarily Destined for Conservation (ADVC), and we learned the seven principles of "leave no trace" while enjoying a little of the nature of the place. There, we took several classes where we learned about the importance of the sky islands and how a watershed works.


The group visiting Café Justo in Agua Prieta, Sonora.
The group visiting Café Justo in Agua Prieta, Sonora.

The fourth day was intense because we met a humanitarian organization dedicated to caring for migrants. It changed my perspective on many things, and now I see the significant social problem of migration. We also learned how Café Justo, a company dedicated to producing and selling coffee, addresses this issue.


After a good breakfast, we spent the fifth day in San Bernardino, Cuenca Los Ojos, where we had classes on various topics. They explained the biological importance of the area and how they achieve a responsible use of resources. They also showed us the water retention structures made for over 30 years.


SFC participants making seed balls guided by Borderlands Nursery & Seed staff.
SFC participants making seed balls guided by Borderlands Nursery & Seed staff.

The seventh day was my favorite, as we hiked for more than five hours along the Cajón Bonito Creek. Although it was tiring, I enjoyed the scenery and the company of my friends in nature. The penultimate day was dedicated to learning about native plants, seed germination, and dispersal techniques from Borderlands Nursery & Seed.


A group taking a break at one of the nature walks during the course.
A group taking a break at one of the nature walks during the course.

Sadly, the last day came when my classmates and I presented our conservation projects. The truth is that each project was interesting, each very different but with the same purpose: the conservation of nature. It was interesting to hear the proposals of my colleagues, and somehow, I want to be part of their projects.


The 2023 Sonoran Field Course graduates.
The 2023 Sonoran Field Course graduates.

I returned home with knowledge, experiences I will remember, and new friends. It is a very enriching experience on a personal level, and I want to thank each of my classmates for accompanying me these days, as well as the facilitators, Jorge, Anays, and Ivanna, who made this a course that we will not forget. I hope to meet all of you again and that the projects of each one of us become a reality. Thank you!

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