River Pathways-Agua Fria National Monument
River Pathways is a nationally acclaimed, inquiry-based science education Hands on the Land program that is run in partnership between Audubon Arizona and the BLM Phoenix District. This program is a hands-on, classroom and field-based science program that connects local high school students to Arizona’s riparian areas and science-based careers in natural resource management. It provides students with an interactive curriculum, two free field days and paid student internship opportunities. Since its start, River Pathways has reached 1,522 students from 24 different schools in the Phoenix and Maricopa County Union High School Districts and eight summer youth interns have been hired.
The program begins with the five-module River Pathways classroom curriculum which is aligned with state English and science standards. Students then take their classroom knowledge outside and apply it during two field days– one to the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center and one to Arizona’s public lands. Destinations include Agua Fria National Monument, Tonto National Forest, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s B&M Wildlife Area. It’s here that students monitor critical riparian habitat using the Multiple Indicator Monitoring (MIM) Protocol alongside BLM resource specialists and Audubon staff. Following these field trips, students are invited to apply for summer internships working with Audubon biologists in the field performing Yellow Billed Cuckoo Surveys, a proposed endangered species.
The River Pathways Program was awarded the 2013 Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Crescordia Award in Environmental Education/Communication.
During the spring 2014 semester, the River Pathways Hands on the Land Program reached almost three hundred students from the Phoenix area. Audubon and BLM staff are gearing up for a summer internship program which will provide three hands-on learning opportunities for exceptional students who have completed the River Pathways program. These 12-week long internships will be alongside Audubon and BLM biologists performing yellow-billed cuckoo surveys and vegetation surveys, providing students with the education and training to continue their careers in wildlife management.