YES! YOUTH ENGAGED STEWARDSHIP 2016
YES! 2016 was another highly successful year, with 11 high school students participating and 2
past students participating as interns for the summer. Students spent the summer delving into
the management and restoration issues affecting Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.
New this year was an introduction to the importance of phenology networks, data collection
and the search for locating an historic orchard at LCNCA.
For the third year in a row, student chose to work at the Gardner Sacaton restoration site.
Past summers had implemented different techniques to mitigate soil erosion, planting of salt
tolerant sacaton and fencing off an area to control grazing affects. This summer, students
decided to focus work within the fenced section of the restoration site. Larger salt tolerant
sacaton starts were planted in clusters, both adjacent to existing mature grasses and in open
eroded areas to test success rates. Working with Jason Field, UofA soil ecologist, students also transplanted bio-crust from healthy ecosystems into the fenced area. Students systematically
designed study plots in order to best determine transplant rates and establishment of healthy crust.
Photos above: Sacaton grass was transplanted in multiple settings. Bio-crust material was collected from other sites, then transplanted by YES! to Gardner Sacaton test squares; below: Sacaton and bio-crust growth after the monsoon rains.
Students in Empire High School's Environmental Science class are monitoring the site throughout the Fall and Spring. Their first trip out found substantial growth in the transplanted bio-crust and sacaton placed within the protected fencing. Students are continuing to work with Jason Field, UofA soil biologist, to make sure that appropriate quantitative and qualitative data is collected at the site. After a year of collecting data and observations, the YES! 2017 students should be able to replicate the field methods at other sites within Las Cienegas.
YES! Interns Carry the Program Forward!
New to our program is our internship program. Interns aid us in the summer with organizing sessions, students and work plans but also help us in making our program sustainable. Currently, we have two interns working on creating our first Youth Summit, bringing young people together to share their experiences working on the land. The Youth Summit will take place after the first of the year and will provide young people the opportunity to showcase their work, meet others working in outdoor conservation/restoration and find new opportunities in which to become involved.
Our interns are also developing a volunteer day at Las Cienegas to provide invaluable maintenance on a few of the habitat ponds. Watch for volunteer day announcements from us if you would like to participate!
To learn more about what YES! youth have achieved 2012 through 2016 read here: