Annie Stencil Student Conservation Association Project Leader Saguaro National Park 3693 South Old Spanish Trail Tucson, Arizona 85730 Start 1/10/2011 End 10/14/2011 (208) 608 6320 firstname.lastname@example.org 
The Last Supper 
For our end of the season team dinner, we decided to go to the famous "Mi Nidito" Mexican Restaurant in Tucson. Widely known for it's AMAZING food and its debut on Man Vs Food, AND the fact the President Clinton ate there and has a dinner plate named after him...we decided to do it.
And it was everything we imagined it to be and more.
Here are some photos of the evening...in proper sequence...:)
We also took a field trip to Kartchner Caverns, some of the most impressive caves in the United States. However, we couldn't get any photos because cameras were prohibited. But it was incredible and I'm glad we were able to check it out before we all went our separate ways!
The End of An Era 
September was our last month of field work. We continued with the NPS crew spraying buffelgrass at Saguaro National Park, tackling some of the most challenging management areas they had. Although the season was physically and mentally challenging, we were sad to see it end. Roaming the desert with so many amazing people and enduring some of the most impressive elements of the desert and nature is something that we all will miss.
And just when it's starting to cool down here in the desert, we have to leave! Doesn't seem fair, does it? The entire crew kicked butt this season, and we endured some of the most challenging circumstances that any of us has ever been through. But we came out on top of the world, and although each of us are off to accomplish even more, we will miss what the desert has taught us, and what we've gained from each other as a crew.
Being a part of the SCA and helping to conserve such a dynamic ecosystem such as the Sonoran Desert has been an honor. It's the end of an Era and it will never be forgotten!
I want to give a special thanks to the crew : Joseph Glenn Ladd, Sarah Seiler, Emily Chilton, Josh Ulrich, Alex Peterkin (when we had him) and John Maxwell (when we had him). You guys were amazing and none of this could have been accomplished without you! And the best part is that no matter what, we have friends we can turn to for the rest of our lives :)
Also a special thanks to our Saguaro Agency Contact Dana Backer, and the fantastic buffelgrass crew: Bethany Hontz, Kara O'Brien, Justin Kolb, Lauren Kingston, Rob Hastings, Drew Jackson, Sam Barnett, Mike Ward, Kim Kwasny, Billy Jarnigan, Josh Lowry, and other NPS staff that helped us through the season.
Also a special thanks to Larry Ludvig from Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Dean Schlicting from Coronado National Memorial, and Kevin Parrish from Saguaro National Park.
Big shout out to the Fire Crew -- you all endured quite a fire season and are all heroes!
Please enjoy some of the last photos from the field and the end of the season award ceremony!
Because of the devastating fire that burned Coronado National Memorial in June, we were invited to lead volunteers in the planting of 1,500 baby agaves to help restore the land! Because of our time spent down there earlier in the season, the work we accomplished, AND the fact that we had to evacuate from the same fire that burned Coronado, we were happy to help. Being at Coronado, so close to the border of Mexico, was a new experience for all of us, and we felt extremely connected to the land down there.
On August 20th, we traveled down to Coronado National Memorial and helped prepare for the day. The next thing we knew, there were close to 100 volunteers eager and ready to plant agaves...from children to grandparents!
Within a matter of a few hours, we had reached our goal. 1,500 baby agaves were planted in the ground. It was a HUGE success and we were honored to be a part of it!
Below are some pictures of the amazing community of people that came together to bring Coronado back to life. Enjoy!
With buffelgrass season continuing in full swing, the SCA Native Plant Corps Crew at Saguaro National Park continues to kick butt!
The crew was invited to conduct Helicopter Plot Assessment Surveys at Tucson Mountain Park, adjacent to the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. Last year, the county dropped herbicide from helicopters on certain buffelgrass management areas. The assessment surveys involve implementing transects in these plots to assess the kill rate of buffelgrass and the effect on surrounding vegetation.
Earlier in the month, Corps Member Joseph Ladd decided to help out a fellow conservationist on a Night Tracking of Gila Monsters. Although only Gila Monster dens were spotted (and no spotting of the Gila Monsters themselves), Joseph was able to gain hands on experience with radio-telemetry tracking, as well as see wildlife that only comes out at night!
Our buffelgrass days continues to be successfully AWESOME. Although the days are the hottest any of us have ever experienced, the work is fulfilling and the large crews of SCA Members and NPS Employees are enjoyable!
**More buffelgrass songs...
"I see a green plant and I want to paint it blue" - The Rolling Stone's "Paint It Black"...as it pertains to spraying a green grass with blue herbicide.
"Give a little bit...give a little bit of your spray to me" - Supertramp's "Give a Little Bit"...as it relates to sharing your backpack sprayer with others when they run out in the field.
"I shot the buffel...but I did not shoot the cottontop, oh no, OOOOHHHH!" - Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sherrif"...as it relates to spraying the correct species of grass--considering everything looks the same out here.
Posted below are some pictures from the helicopter survey, the gila monster tracking adventures of Joseph Ladd, and more "A Day in the Life of Buffelgrass Warriors".
Greetings from Sector 9. Buffelgrass was spotted and destroyed. Awaiting further instructions from the mothership... 
And so the buffelgrass season continues here at Saguaro National Park! The days are getting hotter and the terrain is getting harder, but we're still having a blast out in the desert! Every day begins at the helibase with a safety circle and wake up stretches and exercises to get our blood flowing for the field. This week we worked in the Rincon Mountain District (East Side) of Saguaro National Park. We split up into two separate crews of about 6 or 7 and knocked out over 10 sub-units spraying every buffelgrass in sight. We had a few set backs due to crazy, unpredictable Tucson thunderstorms, but made a lot of progress!
The pictures below show:
Our awesome safety/stretch circles
Creative shade spots to beat the heat
Make shift hats when your forget yours
Greetings! My name is Annie Stencil, and this is my second season as a Project Leader for the SCA Native Plant Corps. We will be working on projects at Coronado National Memorial, Fort Bowie National Historic Site, and Saguaro National Park; including fuel reduction and invasive plant control. Plant ecosystems are an extremely important component to conservation, and I have learned so much throughout my years working with the SCA. I grew up and studied in the ridiculously large state of Texas, but since graduating from Sul Ross State University have traveled to Jamaica with the Peace Corps, Maryland with the SCA and now Arizona with the SCA. I extremely enjoy working in the field, and am grateful that the SCA provides me and the crew members with such amazing experiences and opportunities with the National Park Service.
As July comes to a close, we have completed our first 2 weeks of the Buffelgrass Spray Season! The first week of field work was at the Rincon Mountain District (East Side) of Saguaro National Park. The monsoon season was still in full effect, and we had an unbelievably incredible cloud cover for most of the week. When the sun is not streaming directly upon you, it's quite comfortable in the desert. While working in the Rincon Mountain District, our field work was conducted at the Freeman Trail Management Area. We followed a visitors trail for a mile or so and then headed off trail for another half mile to get to our staging area.
Once the staging area is set up, we split up into 2 groups of about 6 or 7 (depending on the number of people) and set out on foot to separate sub unit management areas. Each crew spreads out evenly amongst each other in a straight line and walks transects through each sub unit looking for buffelgrass. When buffelgrass is spotted, we use our 2 way radios to communicate data information to the data collector, and then the buffelgrass is sprayed with herbicide from our backpack sprayers.
Our second week of field work was conducted at the Tucson Mountain District (West Side) of Saguaro National Park. The worked at 2 different management areas: The Boundary Wash and Red Hills. Field work was a bit more extreme; cloud cover was minimal, temperature was 100-110 degrees, terrain was steep and rocky, and the commute was about an hour (3 AM wake up time and 4 AM leave time). This week of field work gave everyone on the crew a better idea of how the rest of the rest of the season will go. However crazy it seems, we end our days knowing that we had a ton of fun with a lot of great people, battled a lot of buffelgrass, and accomplished more than we ever thought we could...physically and mentally.
For some unknown reason, every song in the universe can be applied to spraying buffelgrass in the desert. Maybe we're just extremely creative, or maybe our delerium from the heat catches up with us...who knows. All we know is that there is a possible music video/documentary in the future. And that it will win an academy award. Or a grammy...or both.
Here are just a few to spark your interest...suggestions welcome.
"I see a green plant and I want to paint it blue" - Rolling Stones, Paint It Black, as to spraying buffelgrass
"Love snack, baby love snack! Love snack, baby love snack! (It's a love snack, baby)" - B 52's, Love Shack, as to taking a delicious snack break in the field
For the rest of the season, the SCA Native Plant Corps Crew at Saguaro National Park will be eradicating buffelgrass...with backpack sprayers...in the 110 degree desert. With that orb of oppression blaring down on us. Yep. I didn't stutter.
Buffelgrass is an invasive grass in the Sonoran Desert that is compromising habitat for native desert vegetation, as well as acting as high fuel concentration for desert fires. Saguaro National Park has conducted several seasons of buffelgrass removal using herbicide as the main eradication method. In order for the herbicide to be effective on buffelgrass, the plant needs to be at least 50 percent green. Thankfully, the summer monsoon rains have greened the plant right up!
We have spent the last few weeks acclimating to the desert climate by hiking several miles each day to do desert re-vegetation and systematic mapping of buffelgrass. The crew seems to be acclimating well, and we've finally figured out everything we'll need on our person to survive while we're in the field!
*At least 6 litres of water
*Salty and sweet snacks (We get pretty creative)
*Sustain (Salt Tablets)
*Emergen-C packets (Vitamin C)
*Vitalyte (Electrolyte Supplements)
*Wide brim hats
Saguaro National Park has trained us well, providing us with a full week of GPS/Navigation/Data Collection Training, Conservation Ethics, Invasive Plant Idendification, Herbicide Mixing and Storage, Field Preparation and Buffelgrass Spraying/Field Work. We will be working with a very experienced NPS crew for the rest of the season. It is wonderful to know that we'll be working with staff that knows EXACTLY what they're doing, how to keep safe in the field, and how to have fun! On Thursday we participated in a "dry run" of a day in the field, AKA "A Day in the Life". We met at 5 AM at the NPS Helibase and prepared for the day. We filled water jugs, mixed the backpack sprayers (with just water and dye for the practice run), suited up with snake/cactus chaps and loaded the trucks. Then we headed to the trailhead and hiked out 3 miles with backpack sprayers filled with 2 gallons of water and blue dye on our backs and camelback hydration systems on the front of our bodies. This was a good precursor to how it will feel hiking with all that weight on our bodies...Although the hiking we'll REALLY be doing is off trail, up hill and through forests of loose rocks and cactus...
Along with backpack sprayers and personal hydration systems, we'll be hiking out shade structures, herbicide mixing kits, herbicide spill kits (in case of a spill emergency), herbicide crew kits, action packers containg herbicide for the field, dry bags filled with ice, gatorade and extra water, first aid kits, GPS units, 2 way radios, NPS radios, and data sheets. Am I missing something? Probably...
The buffelgrass spray season is a large operation, and we are excited to be a part of it! Although it will be extremely challenging physically and mentally, we feel ultimately prepared thanks to the awesome Saguaro National Park Resource Management Staff!
Stay tuned for updates and progress while we're in the field over the next few months. In the meantime, please enjoy some pictures of the landscape we'll be working in, some logistics and preparation photos, as well as some random photos of desert vegetation and crew shenanigans :)
Since there are not one but TWO Native Plant Corps Crews in Arizona this season, we decided to collaborate to create a week of super-power plant work!
The Grand Canyon Crew came down to Tucson to work with us at Saguaro National Park for Monday and Tuesday. They made the trek from 85 degrees to 110 degrees and were ready to kick some butts and take some names. We set out Monday morning at 6 AM to the Tucson Mountain District, where the park had just recently acquired new acres of NPS land. Our job was to clear and disguise several years worth of social trails and re-vegetate the impacted areas...AKA bring the desert back to life!
With 11 SCA Native Plant Corps dudes and dudettes, and 4 NPS Biological Technicians, we hiked in with 6 litres of water per person, fully covered from head to toe (with some totally awesome wide brim hats), along with tools, shade structures, buckets, gatorade, GPS units and PASSION. Once we got to the project area, the one and only Kim Kwasny shared a demonstration and training on the importance of re-vegetation in the desert, why we do it, and how to use your creative eye to re-create the unique desert landscape. Thanks Kim!
Re-vegetation in the desert consists of propogating plants such as Prickly Pear Cactus and Cholla Cactus. You cut pieces off of a live plant and replant them somewhere else; in this case, over social trails. We also used dead materials and artistically placed them over the trails as well. This is called "vertical mulching". It is important to keep the balance between plants that are dead and alive. The desert is not the desert without plant skeletons.
We also built rock dams along the trails to ensure that over time, the soil would even out and disguise any remnants of foot travel. And luckily, 2 days later the Monsoon season arrived in Arizona and our hard work and artistic re-vegetation was showered with that magical water that comes from the sky. Thank you, universe!
We spent 2 days out in the desert heat and had a blast! Below you'll find pictures from the field. Hopefully they give you a better idea of what we accomplished on these 2 days, and how amazing it feels when SCA folks collide!
**Some things we've learned in the desert:
-Ice hat is the most amazing thing in the world.
-Never bend over without doing a 360 degree turn first. Cactus in the butt is not fun.
-Load your packs with AT LEAST 6 litres of water and lots of salty snacks. Peanut butter filled pretzels are heavenly.
-Plant work in the desert might be the hardest thing ever.
-But no matter how hot or tired we are...we LOVE it out here.
Please enjoy some pictures and videos from our Grand Canyon excursion!
From June 27th to July 1st, the Saguaro Native Plant Corps Team and the Grand Canyon Native Plant Corps Team united for some cross training and overall good times. The Grand Canyon team traveled down to Tucson to work with us in the field on Monday and Tuesday. We headed out to the West Side (Tucson Mountain District) of Saguaro National Park to spend two intense field days in the hot hot sun! The park had just recently acquired new land on the West Side, and our main goal was to cover up years of social trails and re-vegetate the impacted areas; AKA bring the desert back to life!
Each day, as an SCA crew of 11 plus 4 NPS BioTechs (15 total), we packed in tools (such as pulaskis, rakes, rock hammers, and shovels), buckets, water, gatorade and ice, shade structures, GPS units and radios.
Covering up social trails consists of evening out the ground with rock dams and what we call "vertical mulching". We propogated live cactus such as Cholla and Prickly Pear and re-planted them over the trails to not only disguise the trail, but to discourage hikers from treading over the area. It's not hard to be discouraged when you're surrounded by Prickly Pear and Cholla! We also used dead fibers and plant materials to act as vertical mulch; sometimes replanting dead trees or shrubs to even out the population of dead and live plants. Another method, (my favorite one) was to create a "Faux Creosote" plant. We took branches off of live creosote bushes and replanted them in the ground over the trail to make them look like rooted shrubs.
The project allowed everyone to become extremely creative in their artistic landscaping abilities. And the best part is that not even 2 days after our project, the Monsoon Season arrived in Tucson and rain fell on our newly propogated desert plants! (And likely evened out the social trails via rock dams that we had built). SUCCESS!
On Wednesday, both crews left the 112 degree weather and headed up to the Grand Canyon to work for the next few days. We stopped at Grasshopper Point outside of Sedona on the way up to cool off in a swimming hole for a few hours before making it to the Canyon. The Saguaro crew was FASCINATED to see water and the Grand Canyon crew was happy to be back in the cool weather of Northern Arizona.
At the Grand Canyon, we helped the crew with their main project of revegetating and irrigating around the new Visitors Center. It was a nice change of pace for the Saguaro Crew...actually getting to water plants! The weather was amazing, and the park was filled with visitors for the upcoming holiday weekend. It was everyones first time to the Grand Canyon...so we took a ton of pictures. Some of the crew was able to hike into the canyon a bit, as well as make it to the top of Humphreys Peak--the highest peak in Arizona!
Overall, the collaboration was a huge success! The two teams were able to make great friendships with each other, gain more native plant experience, eat great food, swim in a cold watering hole, jump off cliffs into water (and overcome some fears of height), watch sunsets that seemed to have no end and no beginning, learn from each other and connect in a positive way to nature and life!
Please enjoy some photos and videos from the field to gain a better idea of the work we've accomplished and the fun we've had!
"It's so hot, the chickens are laying hard boiled eggs"
"It's so hot today, I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking"
"It's so hot the Popsicle timeframe is down to 20 seconds"
"It's another one of those aluminum foil sweater days"
"It's so hot in Arizona that you discover that in July, it takes only 2 fingers to drive your car"
"By the way, today the Air Quality Index is good, so go ahead -- breathe every chance you get"
It's 110 degrees in Tucson, and we are taking the heat VERY seriously...despite all the hot jokes. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are very common illnesses during the summers here, and the SCA and NPS are taking every precaution to prevent these things from happening to anyone. We have taken the last week to become acclimated to the area and test our limits. We have been roaming the desert doing systematic mapping of buffelgrass, gila monster surveys, watering, and desert revegetation. Each member carries 6 to 8 liters of water, as well as vitamin C packets and sustain. We are decked out with snacks and make sure to take breaks at least once every hour. The good news is that we are working with bio-techs and park staff that have been through several summer work seasons at Saguaro and know exactly how to provide us with in-the-field tips and help. Big shout outs to Bethany, Kim, Kara, and Rob!
We saw our first desert tortoise in the field this week! It was so nervous from all of us standing around it that it pooped on the rock...so not only did we see a desert tortoise, but we also saw it defecate. DOUBLE WHAMMY. That doesn't happen every day.
Other wildlife spotted:
Road Runner and Eggs
Diamond Back Rattlesnake
Javelinas! (That charged at us)
3 Species of Lizards (i.e. Zebra Tail, Spiny Lizard)
Red Tail Hawks
Great Horned Owl
Baby Doves in the Nest
Hummingbird and Eggs
Zone Tail Hawks
Sonoran Whip Snake
Pyrrhuloxia (Bird) - The aggressive groundskeeper at Javelina Picnic Area. Stole a piece of cliff bar right out of Josh's hand...
Black Tail Jackrabbit
Really fat squirrels (nomenclature inaccurate)
Really cute chipmunks (nomenclature inaccurate)
We also found a few Projectile Points, AKA Arrowheads.
The crew will be getting a variety of native and invasive plant experience over the next few weeks before the buffelgrass spraying season starts. But before that can happen, we need RAIN. Not only so that the buffelgrass will green up enough to spray, but that we can put out these fires that are threatening this beautiful state!
So while you are doing rain dances for us, please enjoy some photos from the field as we acclimate to the desert life!
On Thursday, June 23rd I went back to Coronado National Memorial to retrieve all of the gear and other items we had to leave behind due to the wildfire evacuation. Nearly 100 percent of the park burned, but thanks to our maintenance and the NPS sprinkler system, the structures still stand. The landscape that was once filled with seas of Lehmanns lovegrass, Mesquite, Manzanita, Oak and Juniper is now charred, black and barren. Collectively, we all have a very special connection with Coronado, and it is troublesome to our minds to know that it is in stress. We are hoping to help in restoration and re-vegetation efforts later on in the season. Bring Coronado back to life!
Well...we did it! We completed our final hitch at Fort Bowie National Historic Site. During our 3rd hitch, a wildfire presented itself over the Chiricahua Mountains, (Horseshoe Two fire) not far from our hitch campsite. When we returned for the 4th and final hitch, we were forced to move from our campsite due to dangerous conditions with the fire. We ended up staying in housing at Chiricahua National Monument -- which was a nice change. We got to meet several Chiricahua park employees, along with some firefighters, seasonal interpreters and bird guides.
For some more information on the Horseshoe Two fire, go to the following links:
At early stages costing 1 million dollars a day, the Horseshoe Two fire is said to continue to burn until late June, 2011.
The desert weather was intense in every possible way this hitch. The heat was in the upper 90's, the fire produced a ton of haze, and the winds gusted at speeds up to 45 miles per hour. No doubt, it made our work a lot harder. Enduring such extreme weather created quite a bit of delerium...I'm pretty sure my mind wandered back to the late 1800's more than once, convincing myself that I saw Chiricahua Apaches on the ridge line. But we were happy to come out on top for our final hitch, removing mesquite from over 20 ACRES of historical battlefield land!
Please enjoy some photos from our final hitch at Fort Bowie, and we hope you'll follow us as we go on to work at Coronado National Memorial and Saguaro National Park!
For Memorial Day, the crew took advantage of staying in the Chiricahua Mountains and woke up for sunrise over the Chiricahuas and did a 10 mile hike throughout the Wonderland of Rocks. (AKA Sky Islands). It was incredible. Anyone can find solace here...looking out on a land of lava-turned-rocks, so mesmerizing that sometimes the rocks begin to look like people. It was a perfect way to end our hitches in this area, and a way for everyone to say thank you and good bye.
I won't be the last
I won't be the first
Find a way to where the sky meets the earth
It's all right and all wrong
For me it begins at the end of the road
We come and go...
We have just returned from our second hitch at Fort Bowie National Historic Site! And a very successful hitch it was. Brian Doughty, the Native Plant Corps Manager, came out for a site visit for the first few days of the hitch. It was nice to have an extra hand at the campsite and in the field; and everyone really enjoyed gaining some insight and ideas from someone with so much experience and such a positive attitude!
Overall, we removed Mesquite from roughly 6 acres of land this hitch. We are mostly using loppers to remove sapplings from previously cut Mesquite Trees, but are also using chainsaws and handsaws to flush cut trees that have not been treated yet. We have really come together as a crew to work effectively for Fort Bowie, and hope that over the next two hitches we can really kick some butt out there.
On the last day of every hitch, our agency partner Larry Ludwig hikes with us out to a specific historical site and gives us a history lesson. This time around, he gave us a personalized history lesson of the Bascom Affair; an interesting story that sparked several years of war between the Chiricahua Apaches and the U.S. Military in the 1860's. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the history of Fort Bowie from someone like Larry, who has worked there for over 20 years. Below you'll find some links to the Bascom Affair, if you're so inclined...as well as some books that describe the compelling history of the land and people of Chiricahua in the 19th century.
We saw some interesting wildlife this hitch, including our first black bear! As we were driving along a dirt road to our campground, a black bear darted in front of the truck and crossed over into a wash on the other side. He was a BIG one... and moved amazingly fast. We were only about a quarter mile (if that) from our campground, so no doubt--we were on bear watch that night. Most everyone had interesting dreams in their tents that night. I'm not gonna lie... I spend a good portion of the night laying awake in my tent looking for bear shadows and listening for footsteps similar to what Bigfoot might sound like...
And last but not least, we celebrated Sarah's Very Merry Un-Birthday on this hitch. Since none of the Crew Members will get a chance to celebrate their real birthdays this season, we have decided to throw a celebration for everyone's UN-birthday. Sooooo, I picked up some costumes from the dollar store and made it Hawai'i themed...and made the birthday girl wear the costume I got her all night. Happy Un-Birthday, Sarah "Timber" Jenny Seiler!
Please enjoy some photos from our hitch, and stay tuned for more from the Saguaro Native Plant Corps Team!