In an effort to further GEM's mission, our team has worked over the past few years to create educational content that is engaging, creative, and environmentally friendly! With that in mind, in honor of Great Outdoors Month, we are highlighting a few ways we make our lesson plans environmentally friendly and sustainable.
In October of 2019, GEM held a STEM Day for third and fourth graders at Primavera Elementary School. Madison Link, the leader of this STEM Day, wanted to showcase how students could utilize recycled materials for hands-on learning. One of these engaging activities used old two-liter bottles for a multi-step experiment. First, GEM volunteers cut the two-liter bottles in half and filled the bottom half with soil and rocks. Students then used their scientific skills to excavate and identify the rocks.
After the students identified their findings, they used the soil-filled bottle as a potholder and planted seeds. GEM shared more about proper gardening techniques, how to take care of the seeds, and the potential for their seeds to grow into beautiful flowers! Once the students had their instructions for care, they used the tops of the two-liter bottles to water their seeds for the first time!
Following this, our team led an impactful discussion exploring types of materials that are recyclable for STEM activities. Ideas ranged from a bottle rocket using household supplies to repurposing old boxes for forts. This discussion allowed the students' creativity to come to life while still encouraging sustainability and environmental engagement.
2. Using Compostable Materials
Being a community organization, our team values community events and engagement. With this in mind, we participated in the 2019 CASA for Kid's Annual Halloween 5k! Our team set up a booth where young learners could create their very own flying bats! Each participant picked two compostable straws, one slightly bigger than the other, and one pre-printed bat outline. After coloring the bats, students taped the bat onto the marginally larger straw, making sure to cover the hole at the top. Students put the smaller straw into the bigger straw and blew into it, making the bat fly off!
This craft was both engaging and environmentally friendly, as the straws were compostable and the paper bat could be recycled. Our team enjoyed sharing our passion for the environment, working with community members, and most of all, watching students 'fly' their bats!
3. Nature Activities
Prescott is unique for many reasons, but our favorite aspect is the fantastic rocks and geological sites! These natural wonders draw geologists, rock enthusiasts, and curious folks from all over the country. Wanting to share these wonders with young learners, GEM offered a hands-on geological learning activity at the Greater Prescott Outdoors Fund Earth Week celebration. At GEM's booth, students searched for and identified rocks, geodes, and gems with the help of our volunteers. After identifying their findings, students reburied the rocks for other children to find later! This activity was exceptional because it allowed young learners to engage with the natural world around them without disturbing any local ecology. Our team had such a great time sharing this learning experience with our community, and we can't wait for next year's Earth Week celebrations!
We hope our experiences and ideas spark inspiration, curiosity, and excitement for your next STEM activity! We love to hear from our readers; share any environmentally friendly activities you enjoy in the comments! Hiking on designated trails, utilizing reusable bags, and supporting local ecological efforts are all great ways to be a friend to the environment!
GEM Environmental is excited to welcome one of our new members to the team! Madison (Madi) Albright is our new Charity Rocks Gallery Sales Associate!
Madison was born and raised in Utah and graduated from Grantsville High School last year. She recently moved to Prescott, Arizona to be closer to her boyfriend Dallas, and his family. Being from Utah, Madi loves the cold weather and is interested to see how she handles the change in temps! She enjoys being outdoors for hikes, kayaking, swimming, and taking her loving dog Steinn on walks. She also loves learning new things and being hands on, she feels that working with GEM will allow her to do both! Welcome to the team, Madi!
How did you hear about this service opportunity?
I learned about the position through family and was excited at the opportunity of working to build a new position in a great company.
Please provide a brief description highlighting your work/area of focus.
I will be opening and running the Charity Rocks Gallery and online website. Starting with getting it up and running, with help from others here at GEM. When the store and website is open, I will be responsible for all sales, in-store and online, I will run weekly inventory checks, website maintenance, and I will also maintain the cleanliness and organization of the shop.
What do you plan to accomplish during your time with GEM?
Being here with GEM, I plan to help the store and website grow. By always keeping the website up to date and the store ready for customers each day. I plan to learn more about the entire organization and teach others so they can also know.
What are your career goals?
Honestly, I am not too sure, I am still young and have my whole life ahead. But for now, I want to help Charity Rocks grow! So, I guess this is my career goal!
MAKE SURE TO KEEP AN EYE ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE AND WEBSITE TO SEE WHEN OUR GALLERY WILL OPEN! CHARITY ROCKS!
GEM Environmental is excited to welcome one of our new members to the team. Kassie Henrikson is our newest AmeriCorps VISTA member through Arizona Serve and Volunteer Program Coordinator.
Kassie grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and has always been passionate about nature and environmental protection. She is especially interested in science communication, biodiversity, ecological restoration, and phenology. Her hobbies include hiking, cycling, birding, and anything outdoors. Kassie values early interventions of STEM education because while she has always been passionate about nature, she did not understand the variety of career opportunities in this field until recently. She believes it is imperative to introduce young kids and young adults to STEM and Environmental education available because this field needs more awareness and more people to join if we are going to be able to manage the environmental issues our society is facing today. Welcome to the team, Kassie!
Please provide a brief description highlighting your work/area of focus.
I started my career in Environmental Restoration with a college internship at Wildlife Habitat Council. WHC focuses on working with large industries to restore land on and around their properties, so most of my work was spent restoring oak savannah and dunes habitats at a large steel mill in northwest Indiana on the southern coast of Lake Michigan. After graduating with a degree in International Business and a minor in Environmental Studies, I spent two years working as a paralegal while considering attending law school to pursue a career in environmental litigation. Ultimately, I realized that I wanted to work more hands-on with environmental issues, so I decided to pivot back to restoration work. I joined the Student Conservation Association's All Women's Crew in 2019 as an Assistant Crew Leader and returned for the 2020 season as a Crew Leader. This crew is designed to empower young women ages 18-25 to pursue careers in conservation and the environmental field by creating a safe space where they can learn together and grow professionally and individually. We worked in partnership with the Chicago Park District to help manage their natural areas throughout the Southeast side of Chicago. The crew members were trained in environmental restoration techniques including chainsaw use and chemical backpack spraying as well as in professional development. I enjoyed the training and mentoring aspect of my job the more and was inspired to pursue a career more focused on education and outreach, which is what brought me to GEM.
What do you plan to accomplish during your service term with GEM?
I hope to expand on my skills in environmental education, science communication, and volunteer recruitment and management. I also hope that by helping kids and young adults learn about nature and STEM they will be inspired to help protect our outdoor spaces and promote science.
What are your career goals?
I'm not exactly sure what I want to do after this position, but I know I want to work in science communication and community outreach in some form. I hope to work at an environmental non-profit or a nature center when I can combine my background in communication and environmental work with my passion for environmental protection, such that I can inspire others to want to protect nature as well.
Do you plan to continue your education? If so, what programs or school are you looking into and what is the highest degree you plan to earn?
I would love to continue my education, however, since I am not sure exactly where I want to go from here, I plan to wait and see if further education is necessary for my career. I am potentially interested in obtaining a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, Environmental Education, or a related field. I would be open to pursuing a doctorate degree as well if it makes sense for me to do so based on my career path in the future.
Have you had any other internship or service opportunities before this? If so, how do you believe internships have benefited you so far?
My internship in college working in environmental restoration was an invaluable experience. Even though I didn't go directly into the field, when I decided to change careers paths four years after completing my internship, I decided to start with environmental restoration because I had prior experience in the field. When I applied for SCA's All Women's Crew, I applied to be a crew member but was immediately hired on as an Assistant Crew Leader because of my previous experience in restoration from my internship. This ultimately led to me being hired the following year as a Crew Leader, which opened many doors for me when I was looking for my next steps. Even though I am now pivoting again away from restoration and more towards environmental education, my previous experience has brought me to this point and it all started with my first internship.
To learn more about Kassie click here.
Science fiction is the perfect genre for people who love fantasy and want the world they are reading about to be imagined with future scientific or technological advances. Science fiction spurs creative energy and has people thinking about different possibilities in the world.
Madison Link, GEM’s past Program Coordinator, shares that one of her favorite books, Ender’s Game, is a science fiction book that takes place in a militaristic world where interplanetary war is being raged. She said that she adored the book when she was young because the main character, Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin, was a young boy who became the leader of a child prodigies to win the war against an alien race. Madison shared, “Reading about someone so young doing amazing things and feeling connected with Ender’s thought process really made me love the book. I felt like I was actually there: learning to use new technology, trying to figure out how to lead a team… I just felt that Ender was so interesting and fun to read about. That he was young like me just really cemented how much I liked the book." Even after all this time, Ender’s Game is still a book she can reread over and over again.
Science fiction books are a great way to have people feel part of a new world that may be possible if individuals are creative enough to design new technologies. Books are powerful because they can influence others and could be the inspiration for new inventions. Therefore, GEM always tries to ensure there are a few science fiction books in the three Little Free Libraries they have created for the community!
What is YOUR favorite science fiction book? GEM members are always looking for new books to read and to donate to the community! Make sure to leave your responses in the comments below.
Hello friends, and welcome back to another installment of Annette’s Adventures! This month we will be visiting the Luis Lopez Mining District, just south of Socorro, New Mexico. The primary commodity mined in the Luis Lopez District is Manganese, and according to Alfred T Miesch (1956), it was, at one time, one of the most productive districts in the United States. Today, I will tell you about my adventures in and around the pit at Nancy Mine.
We typically spend the first day of any field campaign familiarizing ourselves with the area. Our first task in any mining district is driving the dirt roads to verify what we mapped in Google Earth. We must have tried a dozen or so old mining roads to cross the hills from our camp on the east side to Nancy Mine on the west side. None of the routes were passable! Our fate accepted, we headed out for Nancy Mine with the intention of recording monitoring data on all the mine features in that area. The headframe and pit at Nancy Mine are the largest I have seen in my short career as an AML Monitoring technician. Everything at Nancy Mine feels large. Even the water storage tank on the hillside folded and falling looked humongous!
I try my best to arrange my monitoring days into efficient loop hikes and, if possible, I like to park at the bottom of the hill and work my way to the top so that I can have a nice downhill hike at the end of the day when I am tired. Nancy Mine day was no different. Eric and I parked at the bottom of the hill and worked our way up the hillside. We traversed north across the top to the far entrance of the pit and hiked down into what looked like a large trench. It was almost otherworldly with boulders covering the bottom. Some boulders were loose so that when you stepped on them, they would roll underfoot. Tumbleweeds gathered in low spots and piled up along the walls, and most closed features were under piles of tumbleweed. A few of the closures had bat gates, but most were concrete plugs that you would miss if you were not looking for them. Climbing out of the Nancy pit was no easy task. It was nearing the end of our day, and as mentioned before, the rocks were loose!
While we were crossing the hilltop on our way to the pit, we discussed two random-looking features marked on the map to the north. We agreed to save them for another day because they fit well with a different task in that same area. It took a few days to get back to those two lone features in the north. A winter snowstorm had passed through the region the day before our planned trip to get those features. Our camp was dry in the morning, and I thought nothing of the passing storm. This trip was Rob, Dan, and I all piled into the truck. Rob and Dan were inventorying a few features off the beaten path, and I was going to monitor the two points that looked like they would not be much.
ABOVE IS THE PROGRESSION OF THE STORM.
We noticed that the snow increased the closer we got to our designated work area for the day. The snow was a solid six to eight inches deep where we parked the truck. Off we hiked in the snow up the hill. At the top, we split, the guys went west, and I went north. I believed I was going out to verify a “remediated road” or something like that. I followed an old road downhill, then around a corner. As I came around the corner, I yelled: “That’s not a remediated road” (by now, you know I talk to myself in the field). I recorded my notes and took my field photos for the log. I also took some pictures with my cell phone because I could not believe what I was seeing. I promptly headed out to meet back up with the guys and head back to our camp HQ. Of course, no field day in the snow is complete without a little extra excitement, but I will save that tale for another time…
Make sure to check back monthly for more of Annette's Adventures! And be sure to follow us on Facebook!
Any time that GEM works with students, no matter their age, we try to inspire innovation, creativity, and problem-solving techniques. Our programs are inspired by the philosophy that STEM gives students the tools to advance research and discovery, provide and create new services to society, and amplify stewardship of the earth. This can start with students as young as kindergarteners! In one of the outdoor educational lessons that we did with Prescott students, we wanted to turn on their inventor brain in order to solve various engineering problems and build structures using random materials around the Community Nature Center (sticks, cardboard, rocks, wood, etc.) The students, age K-6, were split into groups of 4-5 and raced to complete the following tasks:
Finally, we encouraged students to experiment with their buildings by testing various structures on top of unstable ground. The students created bridges or buildings and worked to figure out how to make them steady. We then had a small competition to see which structure held the most weight and also could withstand an “earthquake.” This lesson was a great opportunity for students to “invent” their own designs and utilize creativity and physics to build the best structures!
Alejandro "Chino" Martinez, our Diversity Officer, currently works as a mental health professional. We asked him to share some information with us about the state of mental health awareness in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. Chino has a Bachelors in Social Work at Northern Arizona University, an MS in Professional Counseling, and years of experience informing the work that he does. Chino is an incredible resource for both GEM and the community. Keep reading to hear from Chino about mental health and what you can do to support your family, friends, and community!
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five Americans are affected by mental health conditions. One in twenty adults experience serious mental illness each year. Also, one in six youth aged 6-17 years old experience a mental health disorder each year. Although millions of people in the United States face issues with mental health, stigma remains a huge barrier to people receiving the care and attention they need. Stigma affects not only the number of people seeking treatment, but also the number of resources available for proper treatment. Stigma and misinformation can feel like overwhelming obstacles for someone who is struggling with a mental health condition. This is why it’s so important to raise awareness about mental health and do all you can to assist loved ones and friends who are trying to deal with mental health conditions. The month of May is dedicated to mental health awareness, but you can become informed and help spread awareness year-round.
As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn have had a negative effect on millions of Americans' mental health. Isolation, illness, grief, work loss, food insecurity, and the loss of habits have all contributed to an increased demand for mental health services. Around the same time, the need to shield people from COVID-19 has made it more difficult for people to access mental health services, and it has made it more difficult for people to access mental health services.
The prevalence of mental health problems in our country was increasing even before COVID-19. In 2019, approximately 52 million people were affected by mental illness in some way. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every four adults experienced anxiety or depressive symptoms in February 2021, a substantial rise from the previous year. Youth mental health is also worsening, with nearly 10 percent of America’s youth reporting severe depression.
Mental illness has the potential to ruin a person's life as well as the lives of those around them. So many people who are suffering from mental illnesses believe they have nowhere to turn. Mental health problems, at the very least, limit one's ability to enjoy life to the fullest. In the worst-case scenario, it may result in death, either from elevated physical health risks or suicide. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and the second leading cause of death among our youth. Suicide rates are especially high among Black teenagers, and LGBTQI+ people are at a higher risk of suicide death, as well as suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts.
We must begin discussions about what mental illness is, how to understand it, and the fact that it is a treatable illness in the same way that we inform communities about physical health conditions such as heart disease. Here a few powerful things you can do to help:
-Talk with everyone you know. Ask family, friends, and coworkers how they’re doing and really listen to their answers. If they give any indication that they are depressed or stressed out, let them know that there are resources available to help them. If you sense that they might be considering self-harm or suicide, encourage them to seek help immediately and assist them as appropriate.
-Open up about your own experience with mental health. Share your story if you've dealt with or are dealing with mental illness. It can be reassuring to know that you are not alone in your struggles. It may be the push a person wants to seek support and seek care.
-Educate yourself about mental illness. It’s not uncommon for people to misunderstand mental illness. Learn more about it and share what you learn.
-Encourage physical health that supports mental health. Assist people in realizing that their physical health has a significant effect on their mental health. Healthy eating, exercise, and sleep all contribute to a person's mental and emotional well-being.
Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a timely reminder that mental health is important and that those who suffer from mental illnesses are worthy of compassion, empathy, hope, healing, rehabilitation, and fulfillment. After all, that is what we all want and need now, more than ever, for ourselves, our loved ones, our families, and our planet.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Suicide and Self-Harm Injury
Mental Health Facts in America
Mental Health in America
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Hello and welcome to the second installment of Annette’s Adventures! In my last blog, I introduced you to my position as a monitoring tech for the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program in New Mexico, and to the Cerrillos Hills Mining District. This month, we will be journeying to the Orogrande Mining District in southern New Mexico!
Our trip starts in the Luis Lopez Mining District, located just south of Socorro, NM. My task here was a training trip with the inventory team. Inventory is when we go into an area and mark all the mining features in a GPS unit, it is the first step in AML remediation. We planned a monitoring day in Orogrande to address some known vandalized mine closures. Our day was scheduled to start early, wheels up at 7:45 AM! The inventory team for this trip was Eric, Rob, Dan and I. Usually we make breakfast and lunch and don’t get out of the RV until 9AM or later. A call for wheels up at 7:45 meant that we had to have coffee, breakfast, lunch, and gear packed and in the truck an hour ahead of our operating schedule. We were all aware of the early morning wakeup call and agreed that we could do it. It was my personal preference to camp in my car for the trip, after all, who wants to sleep in an RV with a bunch of snoring men?
On the day of our scheduled trip to Orogrande, I woke up to my alarm and noticed that the north side of my windows were white, I could only see out the south side of my car and what I did see was snow! This was the second time this year that I woke up to snow while camping in the desert. I got up, got dressed, and went inside. Coffee was ready and Rob claimed breakfast duty, so I started making sandwiches and throwing snacks into the cooler. We pulled together our gear and ran out the door. At 7:45 am the guys were still milling about but they jumped in shortly afterwards and off we went. Wheels ended up at 8am!
We get on the highway and head south, oops, we went too far, had to turn around at the next exit and head north to the highway 380 and go east. As soon as we start heading east, we notice the inclement weather increasing. Rob was driving, and I cannot tell you how thankful I was for that. Who better than the master mechanic to drive the crew across the mountain pass in a winter storm? I saw two vehicles had slid off the road, obviously the roads were slippery and driving conditions were sub-par! Thankfully (in addition to Rob) we had Lady Bug, our 3 seat Polaris Ranger, attached to the top of the flatbed of the truck and she was heavy enough to keep us on the road. Through the pass, we crossed the Valley of Fire and turned south at Carizozo, both have been on my list of places to visit since moving to New Mexico. A quick pit stop in Alamogordo, and off to meet our point of contact for Orogrande, Eddie DeLuca.
We met Eddie at the appointed location and followed him down a dirt road to a good spot to unload Lady Bug and split our group. Dan and Rob were going rock hounding around Eddie’s claims while Eric, Eddie, and I piled into Lady Bug and drove off to the first vandalized mine feature. As we walked up to the closed adit, Eddie tells us that this location is a known rattle snake nest, um ok! Eric crawls in and takes a picture of the “monument” after which I take the remaining required images and note the damage in my GPS unit. Back to Lady Bug and off to the next location, the Vulture Mine. On the way, Eddie tells us the story of how it got the name “Vulture”. Apparently, there was a large bird that nested in a cave above the mine for a season, Eddie met the bird face to face and decided to name the mine “Vulture” to honor the bird. After our work was complete at Vulture, we head over to Lucky Mine, which has two side adits and a large opening on top of a hill. At the first “Lucky” adit we learned about the people that move through the area. It amazes me that such a beautiful desert landscape has such an unseen flow of population through it. At the top opening of “Lucky” I reach my concentration limit; the ground is covered in turquoise! I proclaim out loud that it is too hard to work and not get distracted by all the cool looking rocks! It is too beautiful and all I want to do is pick up turquoise and look at it. The guys laugh and Eddie tells me to feel free to pick up any rocks that I want and then they leave me to my business. Notes and images recorded, we continue to visit a few more closures. At one of these closures, Eddie puts a large rock in my hand and says “here, give this to your sister”, to which I replied “Wow, thank you”. I snuck a text of the rock to my sister and gave Eddie her reply, a genuine and overly excited “OMG!!! Tell him THANK YOU”.
Some say they save the best for last, and I imagine that was Eddie’s plan. The last location to visit was Nannie Baird Mine. Nannie Baird is one of the older mines in the area. Our drive took us along the old train trestle, we turned west off the trestle road, a short way up a valley we turned up a hill and stopped where the GPS device told us to. The hillside was a veritable swiss cheese of prospect pits, shallow shafts, and deep adits. I explored the variety of mine entrances while Eddie looked around for the repaired closure; the area was remarkable and stunning.
The mine entry that we were looking for was covered with bush and deeper into a hole than I usually go. With the weather starting to turn, the wind and rain increasing, I strap on my hard hat, go into the tunnel entrance, take my pictures, and exit the tunnel to record the data. I sit with my back to the wind and tuck the Yuma2 (GPS device) into my torso. I hear something hit my rain shell and comment out loud “Is that rain???”, the synchronized reply was “NO, that’s HAIL!!!!”. I look up and both the guys are trying to stand, but they are leaning so far into the wind that they are practically parallel to the ground!
Data recorded, we jump into Lady Bug and drive off. On the way back we are detoured to an adit that was missed on the drive in. I crawled into the entrance culvert and stayed there until the data entry was complete. As we made our way back to our meeting spot, we stopped to check out a large open pit while we waited for the rest of the crew. The pit was an area known for turquoise and garnet. Wow, that was a treat! Then back to the rest of the team, load up Lady Bug, say goodbye to Eddie, and start the trek back to camp.
The journey home was not without incident. A quick stop at the gas station in Alamogordo turned into replacing the alternator at AutoZone. How does that happen? I have never seen anything like this before, and I think that is the genius of having your master mechanic double as the driver. Rob noticed a battery light on, saw an AutoZone across the street, drove over to take a measurement and just like that a new alternator was purchased! Less than twenty minutes after arriving we are departing from AutoZone and headed home. I sat in quiet amazement for the first few minutes of the drive. How many times have I been out on a long stretch of highway, broken down and needing repair? Not this trip! We headed home from there without incident, took a quick pit stop in the Valley of Fire to admire the basalt, and pulled into camp after dark, where snow still covered the ground. We all said good night, crawled into our respective cubby holes and snuggled in for another cold night in the field…
Make sure to check back monthly for more of Annette's Adventures! And be sure to follow us on Facebook!
Literacy education is extremely important to GEM Environmental because it is the building block for all subject matters. Even in mathematics, reading is integral to utilizing mathematics in real-world situations and understanding word problems. Additionally, GEM is especially passionate about students understanding how to read scientific stories from a young age. From learning common words used in all stories to learning the jargon of a specific field, giving students the ability to discover how to read scientific stories has always been an underlying mission for GEM Environmental.
With that mission in mind, GEM decided to create Little Free Libraries for the Prescott Community. Little Free Libraries are small, box-size libraries that are usually placed outside to be enjoyed by any community member. The idea is that the box is filled with books, and if you take a book, you replace it with another book that you own and are willing to donate. This is beneficial in that children can further their reading level while not having to spend money on books and also ensuring new books are continuously placed in the Little Free Library.
The Little Free Libraries are important because they help improve literacy rates, provide books year-round to help mitigate the “summer slide” where kids’ reading skills decrease, and encourage community sharing. GEM was proud to be able to place three Little Free Libraries at different locations around town: the Prescott Unified School District Office, Primavera Elementary School, and Mountain Oak School.
The actual event of making the Little Free Libraries was quite fun! We had three GEM staff members and five volunteers help. Robert Briggs, GEM Environmental's amazing Operations and Program Technician, and Gary Welsh, Eric’s father, took the lead in teaching the group how to use electric saws, nail guns, and super glue. Volunteer extraordinaire, Katie Retwaiut said “It was so fun to get to do a hands-on project that will help support the community. And I got to learn how to use a variety of tools I had never seen before!”
We also furthered our mission as an organization by placing STEM-related books in all of the Little Free Libraries to promote STEM education. One book that we have read in its entirety on our YouTube Channel is Rachel Ignotofsky’s “Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World.” Recommended by Dr. Kristina Dandy, a Georgia College & State University professor with a young daughter, the book tells the tale of 50 women who made major contributions to the scientific fields. With its amazing illustrations and beautiful stories, GEM hoped that it would inspire young girls to gain an interest in the science fields. Considering the ratio of men to women in the STEM fields is 3:1, it’s vital that we inspire young girls to take an interest in STEM at the beginning of their education.
GEM’s team had a lot of fun creating these Little Free Libraries and we are so happy that after a full year and a half, all of the libraries are still holding strong. We welcome you to go check them out and maybe read a few of the books yourself!
In honor of 2020’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, GEM Environmental hosted an event through Arizona Serve to create bat houses for the community. Utilizing Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy’s gym, GEM team members and five amazing community volunteers created six bat houses with materials donated by Arizona Serve.
Due to deforestation and habitat degradation, bats may have difficulties finding a safe place to stay and raise their young. With GEM having a focus on environmental conservation, we thought it would be a great idea to help create habitats for bats in the Prescott Community.
Our past AmeriCorps State Member, Kali Plummer, took the lead in creating informational plaques to go along with the bat houses. She also researched bats and created a presentation on them for her senior project at Prescott College. Her passion for this project was a big inspiration for GEM, and we are so happy she got to take a lead in it.
On the day of the event, everyone got to work on different parts of the project to maximize efficiency and highlight everyone’s individualized expertise. Eric Welsh, Joseph Willoughby, and Jason Parker cut out the pieces needed with a wood saw. Then, the volunteers paired up into teams of two and started putting the pieces together. Chicken wire was attached to the inner board to enable bats to clutch onto it while in their new home. Additionally, a small sliver of an opening was left at the bottom of the houses so that only bats could fit into the enclosure. Lastly, the roofs were put on at a slant to ensure rain, snow, and hail would slide off of the top instead of weighing down the structure. All of the volunteers learned how to use new tools, and everyone learned new information regarding what is important to house a bat.
GEM members also enjoyed the project and played vital roles in its success. Past State Member Alex Monksfield, did an amazing job at inviting community members to join and even got her favorite biology teacher to get involved. Jason Parker, another past State Member, appreciated the chance to learn how to use a wood saw and had a lot of fun creating the pieces needed for the bat houses. Madison Link, past VISTA and current Program Coordinator, was astounded to see how small the houses to protect the bats from predators. It is with the help of our amazing AmeriCorps members, GEM staff, partners, and volunteers that we are able to create community projects that keep Prescott a beautiful, safe, and welcoming place for our local wildlife!