Parsons Field Institute
Citizen Science News
Dear Parsons Field Institute and Citizen Science Friends,

We have a busy field season approaching, with opportunities to get involved in restoration projects, invasive species management, phenology observations, and more! Read below to learn more and to get involved in these projects this February and March.

We are also excited to announce and welcome our new Citizen Science Assistant Chair - John Zikias.
Welcome! Get to know our new
Citizen Science Assistant Chair
Howdy, I’m John Zikias, Steward Class 81, and I’m excited to be joining the Citizen Science team as Assistant Chair. I first moved to Scottsdale in 1992 with our two sons and have always loved the outdoors and all the beautiful Sonoran Desert has to offer. I currently live in Scottsdale Mountain ¼ mile from Ringtail Trailhead.

In June of 2018, I retired early and found I had a lot of time on my hands and wanted to participate with an organization where I could enjoy the outdoors and give back at the same time.

I hike Ringtail and Sunrise trails nearly every day, and a friend suggested that I volunteer for the Conservancy, which is exactly what I did last April. Once I was able to schedule my class and meet with my mentor, I was excited about all the programs available and really jumped right in.

Since October, I have been conducting Phenology observations weekly. I’ve also participated in setting up restoration experiment plots, obtained my invasive species herbicide certification, got certified as a Guided Hike & Bike assistant and lead, as a pathfinder at Lost Dog Wash and Gateway, as a certified Nature Guide, participated in Spectular Saguaro training and Patrol Shadow, served as a Mentor, and participated in several Construction & Maintenance projects at Gateway, Lost Dog and Sunrise.

While my background is not directly science based, I have a BS degree in Marketing and have worked on a significant number of testing and research projects throughout my career. So while not directly related to the outdoors, I understand the importance of developing tests that provide actionable results that will help preserve our beautiful desert.

I look forward to working with all the talented and knowledgeable individuals that have made the Citizen Science Program one of the most important programs the Conservancy supports. You can reach me at 602-315-9139 or
Institute Updates...

Parsons Field Institute Manager Tiffany Sprague presented on our experimental research on non-native plant removal techniques at the 2020 JAM Conference in Prescott, AZ, this month.

JAM 2020 is the 53rd joint annual meeting of the AZ & NM chapters of the American Fisheries Society and The Wildlife Society. This was a great opportunity to reach out to a new audience about the important work we do.
Pictured: (L-R) Juanita Armstrong-Ullberg, Natural Resource Specialist with Maricopa County Parks and Recreation, Cactus Shadows High School teacher and students, and Mary Fastiggi, Field Institute Coordinator at McDowell Sonoran Conservancy.
Regional Invasive Species Pull Day at Cave Creek Regional Park
On February 12th, the Parsons Field Institute teamed up Maricopa County Regional Parks and the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance to host an invasive species pull day at Cave Creek Regional Park.

High school students from Bella Vista College Preparatory and Cactus Shadows High School joined us to learn about invasive species and pull Stinknet ( Oncosiphon piluliferum ), which is an invasive annual that became a major problem last spring.
Upcoming opportunities...
February 15th - 9am - 11am at Gateway Trailhead
March 17th - 5pm - 7pm at the Conservancy Office

This workshop is a great way to learn about what the Citizen Science Program is and how you can contribute to scientific research in the Preserve. We have a couple courses left for the season. Check them out and sign up in Better Impact.
March Madness:
Plant Monitoring & Removal Edition
Keep an eye on Better Impact.

This March, there are lot of opportunities to help with both plant monitoring and removal at our restoration and invasive species plots across the Preserve. Sign up today!
Spring Bird Surveys

How do we tell what effects urbanization and climate change are having on the Preserve’s bird populations? The answer is bird surveys.

Join surveys led by bird experts and citizen scientist leads to document avian species occurrence and abundance at various locations and habitats across the Preserve.

Our Spring Surveys (Feb and March) are posted on Better Impact

No experience necessary. Just bring your eyes, ears, and enthusiasm!
Learn to ID Butterflies for our Spring Butterfly Count
Join Professor Ronald Rutowski of ASU for an introduction to the physical characteristics, habits, and habitats of butterflies commonly observed in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The butterfly workshop is designed to prepare you for the spring butterfly count.

Butterfly Identification Workshop (required to join the survey)
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Butterfly Survey
Saturday, April 04, 2020
7:45 AM - 12:00 PM
Dr Helen Rowe
Parsons Field Institute Associate Director
Mary Fastiggi
Parsons Field Institute Coordinator
Tiffany Sprague
Parsons Field Institute Manager
Paul Staker
Citizen Science Chair