Every fall, the Rio Salado Audubon Center has Saturday conservation work days. These work days range from making owl habitats to cleaning up trash in the Rio Salado waterways. On October 21st, nine of the YHS Science NHS members participated in a work day to help make better habitat for monarch butterflies.
Maddie, Fern, Tamira, and Levi planting fairy dusters
Monarch butterflies are a species of butterfly that live and migrate through Arizona. They feed on nectar and lay their eggs on desert milkweed. Desert milkweed is the only plant the caterpillars will feed on, so it is an important plant for monarchs in the Sonoran desert. The Arizona Audubon Society wants to help monarchs in Arizona by planting more of the milkweed as well as other nectaring plants that the adult monarch butterflies can feed on. To achieve their goals, they asked volunteers to work in their butterfly garden planting desert milkweed, fairy duster, and other plants that will help butterflies.
Armed with shovels, picks, and plants, we joined other volunteers in digging holes, pulling out rocks, and planting plants to help attracted butterflies to the area. While the work was difficult, it was ultimately rewarding when one of the center employees pointed out a monarch butterfly at one of the newly planted plants.
Pulling out buffelgrass
Once we finished with the butterfly garden, we also helped in pulling out invasive buffelgrass from the Rio Salado river area. Buffelgrass is native to Africa and was brought to the Americans as food for livestock. The problem with buffelgrass is that it out competes our native desert plants and is taking over many parts of the Sonoran Desert. To help get rid of this pest plant, we took out shovels and picks and pulled them out by the roots.
We had a fun time at the Arizona Audubon Center helping native desert wildlife and their habitat. Thanks to the students who attended and who worked so hard to conserve Arizona wildlife!
Standing: Fern, Maddie, Kiara, Jocelyn, Ms. Doskocil David, Levi, Tamira; Kneeling: Jessica, Takila
The project I participated in was volunteering to pick up debris in the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Center with other members of Science National Honors Society. I helped the community by picking up many pieces of trash and cleaning up big portions of wreckage that was washed onto the dried up river. I chose to do this because I enjoy making a small difference in the world and helping to make it a better place. After completing my part, I felt very accomplished because I helped make a change that was significant to the community and worked together with a team to accomplish this task. I would definitely participate in a project like this one again.
Project website: https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/rio-salado-habitat-restoration-area
Community Outreach Summary
The community outreach project I did was to help maintain natural area in Arizona for all types of animals, such as: birds, snakes, rabbits, ect. While there, I planted more plants and removed nonnative plants from the area, which was more beneficial to the wild life there. I joined this project, because it seemed very interesting and I wanted to see an all-natural area that was right next to phoenix. This helped the community a lot, because it gives animals a place to live, allowing the species there to thrive. Learning more science is important, because we will have more knowledge about the world and how things work in the world. After completing my part in the project I felt great, I was glad to know that I was able to help out at a rare site in Arizona.
For my community project, I accompanied Ms. Doskocil and a number of others on a trip to the Rio Salado Riparian area. For this project, we helped pull invasive species, like buffalo grass, out of this beautiful riparian habitat. Buffalo grass grows rapidly, and crowds native plants, stealing the native plants water and nutrients.
I joined this project to learn more about riparian habitats, and to be more aware of the beauty hidden with in Arizona’s desert walls.
Removing these invasive species helped my community by saving the native plants, and preserving the habitat. I’m glad I participated, and feel great doing so, because those plants can’t save themselves, and it is necessary to preserve the life within these riparian habitats.
Community Science Project
The project I was apart was the habitat restoration community project. I forgot where we went, but to sum up the area we were working in, it was a field that needed working on, and there were many things needed to be done. For example, some people were taking apart some plants by pulling off the stems of these plants, some were just bagging the dead plants, and the rest were pulling out weeds. I was in the team pulling the plants out of the ground, (I forgot the name of this bush) but they varied in size, some were the size of weeds, and some were the size of bushes. I chose this project because I’ve always done lawn work, and I’m used to physical labor, so I thought this would be a good and easy way to help my community. After we were done helping, I felt like I actually made a positive impact to my community and that we can really make a change as long as we all can work together as a team.
Class of 2016
November 8th, 2014
Habitats are very important to sustain life everywhere. whether they house reptiles, mammals, insects, or even the monarch butterfly, they serve their purpose. Yet, without the occasional help of people who car, those necessary habitats can be overtaken by meddlesome species of plants or animals.
A small group of members from the YHS SNHS took a trip to Rio Salado Habitat Rehabilitation. Shortly after our arrival, we were broken up into groups to take on different tasks to aid the habitat in its survival.
My group was tasked with the job of ridding the park of blue buffalo grass. These species of plant are easily spread among the area by simple means such as wind or storms. They have a head of small seeds that can easily be dispersed among the soil.
Once the seeds settle, they soak up water, taking it away from the surrounding. This causes the other plants to slowly die. As the grass grows, it often entangles itself in other plants, making it hard for those plants to grow. Without the good plants, the poor monarch butterflies would have no where else to rest on their long migrations from one place to another.
Although it took a large ride to the park, and a lot of hard work, in the end, the most important part was saving the habitat for all the creatures who call it home, especially the majestic monarch butterfly
Class of 2016
November 8th, 2014
Today I was able to attend a field trip with SNHS that allowed us to see what we normally wouldn’t see. In an area about 45 minutes away from Buckeye was a habitat that needed some help. The habitat was along the river, making it home to Arizona animals and insects; including the monarch butterfly. We were split into groups and put to work right away. My group had the task of dealing with the invasive plant of blue buffalo grass. While the grass looks harmless at first with its fluffy seedlings, we quickly discovered that that was not the case at all.
This grass spreads like wild fire, as soon as the water hits the seeds the plant is up and going. This creates competition for all the plants that actually belong here. Now they are fighting for water that is already limited in the valley. The grass can grow close to other plants and entwines its roots with the others, making it extremely difficult to remove.
When our group did have to remove the buffalo grass, people had to be in front to cut off each “head” of the grass. This is the fluffy part that contains the seeds. It was stressed to us many times that if one of those seeds got free all our hard word would be for nothing. After the cutting, the clippings made their way into a bag to be sealed. Next we have to dig each plant up, making sure that we got the roots and the nutrient ball out of the ground so it wouldn’t make a reappearance. When the grass grows together, their root systems get stronger and its even more a pain to get out.
It wasn’t the best of time, working out under the sun of Arizona, but we did it for a reason. I can now say that I helped the habitat so the generations from now will be able to look at the beauty if has created and the animals it has housed.