Our Experience – Junior Docents

The Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum Junior Docents, before heading to Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge worked on a wildlife camera project. They headed south to Ajo Road, then west to Three Points, then south through Altar Valley where they observed two wild Crested Caracaras swooping over their vehicles. They were surprised at how the desert transformed into the vast expanse of golden grasslands blanketing the foot of Baboquivari Peak off in the horizon.

 

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Photo: Dorian Escalante

 

Upon arrival at the visitor center, the Junior Docents were greeted by Josh Smith, Wildlife Refuge Specialist, as well as Mule Deer, Red Tailed Hawks, Prairie Falcon, Meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrikes, and Common Ravens. Josh gave a very informative presentation on the endangered species at the refuge, Masked Bobwhite, Pronghorn, and Chiricahua Leopard Frogs.

Josh challenged the Junior Docents to act as wildlife managers by identifying a real-life issue faced by these endangered species and a creative solution. Puppets, dioramas, and LOTS of glitter were used to present the Junior Docents’ unique ideas. Josh and the other Wildlife Refuge Specialists critiqued the Junior Docents‚Äô management plans and opened their eyes to the realities of the struggles faced in conservation efforts.

 

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Photo: Dorian Escalante

 

As the sun was setting the Junior Docents traversed back through the grasslands into the heart of Brown Canyon where they shared lodging with a Jaguar (image above) at the Brown Canyon Environmental Education Center. There they faced their next challenge… working together to make dinner! It was a success and everyone enjoyed some baked ziti!

The next morning was spent getting hands-on conservation experience back at the Refuge in the Masked Bobwhite flight pens where the birds prepare themselves for a smooth introduction into the wild. To assist with this transition, the Junior Docents recreated a small part of the bird’s natural habitat by constructing mottes Рa simulation of native shrubbery. These mottes are important because they provide shelter from aerial predators, and create a microclimate that provides temperature and moisture regulation, attracting insects, their food source.

 

The construction process included the gathering of Johnson grass, a repurposed invasive species, and the weaving of the grass into wire frames. Upon completion the Junior Docents were rewarded by witnessing the bird’s scurrying right into their new shelters. It was fantastic to help in the process of bringing these adorable bird’s back from the brink of extinction.

 

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Photo: Dorian Escalante Photo: Dorian Escalante

 

The construction process included the gathering of Johnson grass, a repurposed invasive species, and the weaving of the grass into wire frames. Upon completion the Junior Docents were rewarded by witnessing the bird’s scurrying right into their new shelters. It was fantastic to help in the process of bringing these adorable bird’s back from the brink of extinction.

 

 

 

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Photo: Dorian Escalante

It was fantastic to help bring these adorable birds back from the brink of extinction.

 

Written by: ASDM Junior Docents

Edited by: Alex Wolfe, ASDM Educator 


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