Kathy Pasierb, Friends of Sonoita Creek board member, four U of A graduate students and members of the BECY pose for a photo taken during their summer work program with Borderlands Restoration in Patagonia.

Contributed by Friends of Sonoita Creek

One day last week, Kathy Pasierb remarked, “I just had the best day! I worked with ten high school kids getting their impressions of the cemetery trail. Friends of Sonoita Creek are going to write a trail guide and we want to use their words and impressions of the trail.”

Kathy was talking about the BECY students who work in the summer for Borderlands Restoration. The Patagonia and Rio Rico high school students are the Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) team. During the six-week internship, they work closely with conservation professionals in a habitat restoration curriculum. Typical activities include stabilizing waterways with rock work, removing invasive plants and in this activity, developing not only the critical scientific skill of observation but also communication.

Kathy, an active board member of The Friends of Sonoita Creek (FoSC) since 2005, facilitated a morning of practicing the skill of observation. As an inquiry-based practice, true observation uses all five senses. Kathy encouraged the interns to turn on their mental microscope by getting still. Using sensory awareness to enhance learning is a lifelong skill and requires ignoring assumptions. The interns walked the trail employing all their senses. For some, it was a new experience.

Joining Kathy and the students were four U of A graduate students who shared their strategies for honing observations into words. The goal of this activity is to create a cemetery trail interpretive guide that speaks to diverse perspectives.

Every summer for two weeks, several creative writing graduate students come to Patagonia to write, research and connect with borderlands communities. They also work with the BECY interns during their stay.

The trail, at the southern edge of the townsite, just opposite the highway 82 ramadas is easily accessed. Kathy plans to have a QR code posted at the start of the trail, so the guide is accessible via a smartphone. It will be a voice activated interpretation with bird sounds to identify and questions to ponder.

“It is my hope that trail walkers, young and old, will connect with the present moment as they stroll under the cool, green shade of giant mesquite trees,” Kathy commented.