River Pathways is an experiential education program that was developed by Audubon Arizona and funded by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The goals of the curriculum are to get students outdoors, introduce them to Arizona’s native habitats, and build their interest in careers managing public lands and natural resources.
In the classroom, students complete a five module curriculum focused on riparian ecology and resource management. The students then participate in two field trips. The first field trip is to Sweetwater Wetlands, where they are trained in riparian monitoring techniques. The second field trip is to Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, a riparian area administered by the BLM, where students apply what they learned at Sweetwater and assist agency scientists in collecting data used to make management decisions. At both field trip locations, the students engage in three activities: water quality and invertebrate sampling, riparian woody species monitoring, and a bird walk/survey.
We then offer a paid summer internship to one or two students that have completed the River Pathways curriculum. The student has an opportunity to work between the Tucson BLM and Tucson Audubon offices and recieve training in field monitoring techniques such as Important Bird Area surveys, water quality, and water quantity measurements, as well as gain experience in data collection and entry.
Since the spring of 2012, Tucson Audubon, along with Audubon Arizona and the BLM's Tucson Field Office, has worked with 170 students at Empire High, Cienega High, and Tucson High School.