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Teens Monitoring Flow in the Santa Cruz River

From 2020-2022 the Educating Children Outdoors Teen Naturalists monitored the flow of the Santa Cruz River in Marana under the guidance of Kathy Balman. The Teen Naturalists not only monitored the flow of the river for Flow 365 they also identified local and invasive flora and fauna and submitted their data to iNaturlaist, monitored water quality for Earth Echo Water Challenge, collected litter as part of Keep Nature Wild, and conducted phenology observations for Nature's Notebook. They asked scientific research questions like, does Tamarisk affect the water quality" and "does the flow of the water affect the biodiversity of the river?" They also learned about Juan Bautista and the history of the Santa Cruz. The teens loved visiting this site and learned so much in this outdoor classroom. They became stewards of this riparian corridor and started to really become concerned about things like litter and water quality. 

"I think it was really interesting seeing the seasonal shifts, and how drastically the plant life changed in short amounts of time." 

Gwyn and her brother passed away in 2022 in a car accident. She was 16 years old and wanted to pursue a biology degree and had hopes of working with Arizona Game and Fish and helping with wildife conservation. So I wanted to share the poem she wrote for the Living River of Words contest which sums up her thoughts and feelings about the Santa Cruz River so beautifully. She submitted a few pieces to the contest and her art piece actually won. 

Dear Desert Rain 
Why have you left?
You made the land smell so sweet and fresh. 
I look upon the river and I will never forget, the feel of your touch on my face,
nor the taste of the mesquite, or the whistle of the trees. 
Oh, how I’ll never forget, the beautiful sight of the sunset. 
Dear desert rain why have you left?
You have made such an absence in my chest!