Wow, can you believe it's week 16??? The crew has been together for four whole months, enduring 110 degree days in August, and below freezing nights in December. We have worked with chainsaws, pulaskis, rock bars, chisels, and our own hands. We've gotten dirty together in the field and sat together in the classroom. We learned to work as a team and challenged each other and ourselves. It's been a crazy action-packed season, and our last week was no exception.
We started the week in an unusual state - clean and dressed up. We went to the BLM for informational interviews. Each crew member was paired up with several BLM employees with different specialties. The guys spent time with their interviewees, asking them questions about their jobs and how they progressed in their careers. It was a very informative and engaging day.
After spending a day doing wrap-up paperwork and tool cleaning, we departed for our last trip together - to the Grand Canyon!!!
First, we drove up to Flagstaff and explored a lava tube cave and it was quite impressive at 1.5 miles deep and ranging between 2 feet and 30 feet in height. We hiked in, marvelling at the mineral deposits on the walls and enjoying the complete darkness when we turned off all of our headlamps. We couldn't even see our hands right in front of our eyes!!
We arrived at the Grand Canyon just in time for a beautiful pink and orange sunset. For many of the crew, it was the first time they had ever seen this natural wonder, and everyone was blown away by it's beauty. As the sun set, we lingered on the rim, enjoying looking into the depths of the canyon, in awe.
The following day we set off from the Grandview trailhead towards Horseshoe Mesa. Hiking was hard, down down down. We observed and admired the trail work - the timber retaining walls! the rock retaining walls! the riprap! the rock staircases! Wow! Being at Horseshoe Mesa was surreal. Seeing the canyon walls both a mile above and below created a sense of insignificance in us all. The guys were intrigued by the "Caution: Radiation Area Keep Out" signs and wanted to explored that further, but were content to walk away given the uphill hike awaiting us. It was steep, but the guys' lungs proved themselves worthy and everyone made it out without a hitch. We then, with some sadness at leaving the canyon behind, left to return to Phoenix in advance of an impending snow storm that dumped almost three feet of snow in Northern Arizona.
The entire program came to a close on Saturday December 15 at our graduation ceremony. Approximately 70 people turned out at the Audubon on a rainy afternoon to honor our eight graduates. Speeches were given by Hannah Wendel from the BLM, Bill Gibson from the BLM, Adam Soto from ACYR, and Trevor Knight from the SCA. Everyone acknowledged the students' hard work and contribution to the world of conservation over the last sixteen weeks. The crew leaders Mel and Sean gave out award certificates to each member, appreciating them for their unique contribution. Then, the members received their final, overall certification for the entire program. Congratulations!
The guys then presented framed photographs of the crew to our agency partners to thank them for all of their hard work pulling this program together. The final speech was a heartful description of our entire experience, written and delivered by George and Angel. The applause led into a big Mexican feast with delicious burritos and guacamole. Families mingled, introductions were made, food was enjoyed. When it was time to leave, we tried not to say goodbye, but see you later. The crew is determined to keep in touch and promises to continue to support each other into their next phases of life. And if we've learned one thing about these eight young men over the last four months, it's this: when they're determined, look out, because they will accomplish their goal.
Congratulations to the Fall 2012 Phoenix Field School!!!!!!!
The 15th week of the SCA Phoenix Field School program was devoted entirely to training. Seen as somewhat of a capstone of the program, Wildland Fire Fighting (S-190 & S-130), spanned four days in early December. Three of the eight members had taken this training prior when enrolled in Franklin Fire High School; so our group had high expectations of this training spurred by the romanticized tales of their colleagues.
The training entailed three days in the classroom learning as much as possible about fighting wildland fires. Topics included; factors affecting fire behavior, safety precautions when fighting fires, techniques commonly implemented on the fire line, and an introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS) utilized by federal agencies during emergencies such as wildland fires. One the final day of the training; the class traveled to a remote facility to practice fire-fighting techniques described earlier in the week. This included; constructing a fireline at real speed with real fire-fighting tools, maintaining the tools afterward, and practicing deployment of a fire shelter (a integral piece of safety equipment that serves as the last line of defense when caught in a wildfire). Everyone passed the final exam and our entire crew received S-190 and S-130 certifications!
The next day, we participated in a ATV Safety Training course. This one day course strived to teach the crew have to ride All Terrain Vehicles safely. The members deftly zoomed around cones in figure-eights and banked upon steep slopes for six hours until finally, the last of many trainings undertaken by the crew this year was complete.
Our thirteenth week was a short one, with just three days in the field before getting five whole days off for Thanksgiving. We returned to the rock work site to see if we could finish our rock retaining wall and maybe even move beyond it to begin digging the trail through the rocky outcropping. It was a tall order, but the crew was excited about finishing and gained energy from the thought of the upcoming vacation.
The crew worked tirelessly moving rocks, crushing rocks, and placing rocks. And just like that, the rock retaining wall was finished, with a beautiful crush and fill tread for the hikers to travel upon.
The next stretch of trailbuilding was challenging, as it required the removal of a large portion of the rocky hillside before solid, flat ground could be found. The guys were up to the challenge and would have worked straight through lunch each day (if they had been allowed).
The result of the long days was that a trail now exists where once only rocks lived. A job well done, and a good excuse to eat lots of turkey and pie.
In the 12th week of our program, we had rock workskills with Rebecca Pike. It was a wonderful experience because it took hard team work and determination to move boulders. The work site, a different section of the Copper Mountain Loop we worked on previously, was very beautiful. The hike there from our campsite was roughly two miles.
The rocks that we needed to move for the rock wall must have been at least 800 pounds each, if not more. But we didn't have to move just any rock - this rock was schist, a metamorphic rock. It tends to break apart with any rough movement, so we had to be very careful when moving them around.
We were able to move enormous rocks to a certain location to construct a rock wall after Rebecca taught us how to use rock bars to move large rocks safely and efficiently. We learned how to place the rocks with multiple points of contact to make a strong, sturdy, and long-lasting retaining wall.
Finding large rocks to build the wall was fun. We broke off pieces from the surrounding mountains or dug rocks out of the ground. We also learned a method called crush and fill to fill in the spaces in the rock wall. We smashed rocks with a double or single jack hammer to make pieces as small as possible. It was very tedious and hard work.
We finished the week with a great sense of pride in our wall. Although we did not accomplish a lot of distance, we know that the wall we built is strong and will support many hikers, bikers, and equestrians and will allow many people to enjoy the Copper Mountain Loop.
On week 11 of our amazing work together, we were supplied with Juniper wood to construct wood benches for people to sit on at an historic schol site at the Agua Fria National Monument. We had three teams to make three benches; Josh teamed up with Jacob and AJ, George teamed up with Chris, and Rip teamed up with Aron and Angel. First we started by taking all the bark off of the logs to make them easier to work with and last longer. Afterwards we used saws and wood chisels to shape the benches.
While Jacob and AJ figured out the dimensions for their bench; Rip, Aron, and Angel worked on a bench of their own. There they chiseled a lot of bark off to make the wood look as elegant as possible. We ended up carrying parts of our bench far into an archaeological site. When we got there, the team finished was left. The result was a nice looking and stable bench. The bench took hard work and determination, but in the end, it was successful.
It was a wonderful experience to know that our hours of timber work will improve the lives of the hundreds of visitors the site will receive. The camp site was next to the worksite so we didn't have to hike far at all. One night, as Josh, Rip, and Chris were going to the tents, they shined the light down the river bank to see ten pairs of eyes staring right back at them. It turned out to be five bulls drinking from the water. "Scariest thing to see before going to bed," says AJ.
Since our last update, we have completed one of our greatest hitches to date and it was right in our own backyards! We came to the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area located just South of downtown Phoenix. Our goal was to improve the waterfall (which was only a fast-flowing trickle down a steep hill at this point) by digging out 90-degree steps and inserting flatten rocks or slabs of concrete, causing the water to make a number of aesthetically appealing drops. We arrived at the "waterfall" while there was water still flowing, so while we waited for it to be shut off manually, we put logs on a hillside with burlap sacks and stakes. This method prevents erosion of the bank by holding up the rows of logs to create terraces, which slows down the flow of water and organic material.
The next day with the water shut off, we started working on the waterfall. We starting digging out the drainage and strategically placing slabs of conrete and smooth river rocks to create a rock staircase. We were particularly careful to place the concrete slabs in locations that would stand up to the constant flow of water without eroding, even during the numerous spring flood events. In addition to the functional pieces of the waterfall, a vast number of river rocks were needed to both line the bottom of the stream and build retaining walls. One unique feature of the the completed waterfall was an improvised "infinity pool" devised by placing a single concrete slab vertically at the mouth of a small basin.
While we were working, locals would often come by and visit this popular site near downtown Phoenix. The first reaction of the public was always awe followed by appreciation of our hard work. We were amazed at how much a difference we were making to the people who visit these places on a daily basis. It motivated all of us by helping us realize we truly are making a difference. As a great cap to our project, on the final day of work a gigantic red-tailed hawk flew swooped right over our heads and sat in a nearby tree for over an hour before catching a squirrel and flying away.
We began our week by traveling to Copper Mountain located about an hour North of Pheonix Arizona. After the craziest journey yet to get to a worksite, involving dirt roads and nearly capsized trailers, we arrived at the our campsite. Tim Craig, a renowned SCA instructor, camped along side us for the duration of the project.
We discussed the process of trailbuilding and learned the different parts of bench cut trail. The first work day involved clearing the trail by removing a vast amount of vegetation with loppers. Afterwards, each member of our team was assigned a 20 foot section of trail to complete individually from start to finish allowing us the opportunity to understand each stage of construction. After that, we began to build trail at an astonishing rate in teams of two, albeit for only a day. We built a quarter of a mile of new trail, however it was built to perfection.
Finally, we built a grade reversal and drainage dip along the trial. It may have been a bit overbuilt, but it also served as a classroom example and we can be sure the trail will never flood in that spot as long as it is reasonably maintained. After a quick "trail-derby", a friendly competition involving the scale-model construction of trail structures, we headed home with a greater knowledge of tread and drainage fundamentals.
This week we finished a project for the Rio Salado. It consisted of digging 2 trenches about a football field long. We also dug a pond and filled it with river rocks. On Wednesday, the Mayor of the City of Phoenix, the Arizona Director of the BLM, and the National Director of the BLM showed up to see the work we did and do some finishing touches. They put the last three rocks into the rock walls we built and planted trees in front of the rock walls. There was also a ribbon cutting for the project to show that the project was finished. During our time at the Rio Salado we had two high school classes come and we explained what we were doing and who we are and how they can get involved in the program as well.
Thursday we went to a place called the Audubon, which is a restoration area that used to be a landfill located just on the other side of the Rio Salado. We pulled out fountain and buffle grass that were native to the area. We also dug holes and filled them with soil for plant growth.
Lastly, Friday we went to Saguaro Lake to do some biology, which consisted of drawing nature. We had fun hiking a small trail and swiming in Saguaro Lake. We have accomplished so much this week with hard work and dedication. Next week we all receive our chainsaw certifications in Prescott.
Until next time, be safe and wear pretection.
hows it goin everybody, my name is AJ i am 18 years of age and i love the outdoors which is why i am enjoying this program so much! this is the type of program i have been waiting for HARD WORK! on my free time im mostly outside riding my bike or playing catch with my german shepard. i am best at work when i have a tool in my hands workin' my but off with my crew members. i love listening to music and drawing random shapes and objects, my favorite food would have to be HAMBURGERS!! my goal for this program is to be succesfull at every worksite and work the hardest i possibly can.
HELLO :) My Name is Angel J. Torres. I'm from Huntington Park, California. I Love to explore new places and swim. On my free time I like to hang out with friends and listen to Nirvana. My future goals areto complete my studies and experiences to become a Forest Ranger, because I've always been passionate towards the enviroment and law enforcement.
Hi I’m Christopher Acuna. I was born in Phoenix, Arizona 20 years ago. I have lived in phx half my life. The other half I have lived in Idaho. Idaho allowed me to see a lot of sites and wildlife. It took me out of the city when I was a kid. Getting pulled out of the city of phx when I was a kid and seeing the sites I saw, it made me who I am, an intern for the blm/sca. The thing I enjoyed the most was working as a team with my new found friends.
My name is Jacob Weinberg I was born in phoenix Arizona. When I was in hig school I was a part of my high schools AFJROTC all four years of high school also while in high school I played on my schools football team also all four years. I am currently working towards an accociates degree in science from paridise valley community college. I like the enviroment because it contains many mysteries and there is always something new to learn.
Hello, my name is Josh Vaughn Archer. I grew up in Snowflake AZ, where everyday I would spend outdoors, learning new things and also discovering new things. To me, being outdoors is so much more fun than being inside my house playing xbox. Not only do you get experience, but you get to build relationships with other people your working with. I applied for this program because its 80% outdoors work, and also to get more doors open for my future career in the field. One of my favorite things to do in the great outdoors is to play guitar.. its gives me a sense of freedom and peace. For the past week or so I have been learning about wilderness first responder, which was really fun. We got to do all different types of scenarios including, head injuries, gun wounds, and stabbings etc. In one of the scenarios I had to be a patient on LSD. I had to act lilke i was on LSD so that my peers could do a full patient assessment on me to figure out what was wrong with me. I am now a certified Wilderness First Responder, and also in CPR.
Hello, my name is Aron, I am 18 years old, fluent in both English and Spanish, and currently apart of the 16 week SCA/BLM 3 Certification Program. Recently, I had the privillage of being apart of a 4 day all expenses paid trip to Washington D.C, inorder to lobby for fedral grants for the youth programs of Arizona.
For a week and a half we were enrolled in a Wilderness First Responder/CPR course. Throughout the course, we went through many different scenarios and patient assessments. We hope to never have to use CPR on anyone in the future; however we appreciate the experience and knowledge in case such a situation arises.
The CPR course was short and sweet. Our instructor, Aerie Wilderness Medicine’s Eagle Cruz, brought in some dummies used for practicing CPR. These dummies really helped with gaining “hands-on” experience. For our actual CPR test, we had to complete three sets of compressions each. If the patient wasn’t responsive, we then had to call for help and pretend to use an AED (Automated External Difribulator).
For the Wilderness First Responder class, we were put through a series of different scenarios each supported by a number of medical lectures. For example, one of these scenarios included Aron being trapped under the front of a car because he was hit by a drunk driver, played by Angel. The other six of us had to help them and give full patient assessments as if it was genuine. After each scenario, we would debrief the situation and discuss what we did well and what we can improve.
During another scenario, we had to remove a badly injured AJ from under three different sets of bushes. We needed to take him out as slowly and as carefully as possible to avoid further injury. When we got him out, we then had to “beam” AJ and take him to a safe location. Beaming is having three to four people on each side of the patient and using our arms as a backboard. This can only be accomplished by using clear communication and teamwork.
We’d like to thank you for taking time to read this. We all appreciate your interest in our program. Now we are all certified Wilderness First Responders and CPR providers. Just remember to be safe and stay hydrated!
After taking a day off for Labor Day, the Phoenix Field School crew arrived rested and ready for their first big adventure. We headed north out of Phoenix to the Sedona area to backpack for three days in the Wet Beaver Wilderness in Coconino National Forest. The cooler air was a treat for us Phoenicians after months of temps in the 110s.
We had some excitement the first day, as a menacing cloud tried to scare us with loud thunder and bright lightening. As the storm passed, we finally got started backpacking, many of us for the first time. We hiked in about four miles and set up our first camp. We enjoyed a delicious burrito dinner by headlamp light and went to bed looking forward to the days ahead.
Day two included moving camp, hiking up to a mesa and setting up camp again. We hiked back downhill to the awesome Wet Beaver Creek, a gorgeous watering hole with plenty of pools to jump into and swim around in. All of the crew members had time to teach a lesson on one of the Leave No Trace principles to the rest of the group. Everyone learned a great deal about how to have a minimal impact on the land. We had another great night at our campsite, with a beautiful view of the stars.
Day three began for several of the crew members with a before dawn hike up to the very top of the mesa to watch the sunrise. The sleepier members woke up in time to greet the hikers as they returned to camp in time for stretch circle. We packed up camp again and began our hike out to the trailhead. Our day ended at the BLM office where we unpacked and cleaned up and took a quiz on the Leave No Trace principles - which everyone passed with flying colors!!
After a night at home, on Friday we all went on a field trip to the Biosphere outside of Tucson. We had a fascinating tour of the facility and enjoyed seeing a rainforest growing inside the building and hearing about the people who lived there when it was sealed in.
All in all, week two of the Phoenix Field School was an overwhelming success. Next up, WFR!!
Hello I am Rodrigo Santana but people call me Rip . I am an intellectual being , i love comic books , sports, cartoons, and puppies. My hobbies are grappling , music, art , and eating . I love
SCA because it allows me to enjoy the wilderness even more and one day when I'm really old I hope to live either as a Shaolin Monk or live among the wolves !
Hello! I am one of the Project Leaders for the SCA Field School Phoenix! I come to this position after working for outdoor education programs across the country. I am very excited to work for SCA here in Phoenix, my home for the past six years.
Here are some important facts about me:
number of states i've lived in: 9
number of countries i've visited: 10
what i studied in college: printmaking and art history
hobbies: running, backpacking, traveling, gardening, knitting, cooking, making art, raising chickens
other jobs i've had: farm worker, charter school teacher
favorite thing to do: teach people new skills in the backcountry!
My name is Sean Ogle and I am 23 years old. I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. The adventure spirit was instilled within me from a young age. The lush Appalachian wilderness, ancient mountains, crystal clear streams and rich heritage associated with the area fostered a love for the outdoors and a knowledge of the importance of conservation. As I grew older and experienced many of the nation's parks such as; TGSM, Yellowstone, Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, Tetons, Zion, etc. and became aware of the dangers threatening the natural world, I vowed to one day contribute my efforts toward conservation.
After graduating The University of Tennessee with a degree in Journalism, I sought to fulfill my ancient promise to nature. I eventually became aware of the SCA, and quickly applied to do my part for the environment. I was selected for the Florida Trail Corps in fall 2010 and got my first taste of the outdoor life. I never recovered. Afterwards I joined the 10-month residential SCA NH Corps as a Conservation Leadership Corps High School Leader. I then left the SCA for a year and worked for the Florida Trail Association (the same agency that had contracted my 2010 crew). However, I was unable to stay away from the SCA long and now I am beginning my renewed tenure as a Phoenix Field School Project Leader.
It is good to be back!
|Alexander "AJ" Whiteman!!|
|Angel J. Torres|
|Rodrigo "Rip" Santana|
|project leader mel|
|Earth, Wind, and Fire (important factors in fire behavior)|
|Giving thanks for our last field work days (and Thanksgiving vacation too!)|
|Rock Work Rocks!!|
|Timber Work Skills Training - Riverbend, Aqua Fria|
|Rio Salado - Waterfall Restoration|
|Copper Mountain - Tread and Drainage Work Skills Training|
|Another Week of Awesome|
|Wilderness First Responder Training|
|Leave No Trace Training Backpacking Trip|