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  • Students take lessons from the classroom to the trailhead

    Feb 21, 2019 | Read More News
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    About 35 Catalina Foothills High School students earlier this month traded school supplies for tools of the trail as part of a service project to construct a new hiking trail in the Painted Hills area near Anklam and Greasewood Roads.

    The students spent several hours away from their Field Sciences classroom to instead wield hoes, rakes and pick axes clearing a hiking path under the direction of the trails staff with Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation (NRPR). 

    “It’s nice to know, as I’m working on this trail, if I have children in the future, I can show them what I did,” said Joshua Sutalo, a senior in the class who would like to pursue a career in wildlife management as an officer with Game and Fish.
    Students building trail
    The students built 1,125 feet of trail, which Mark Flint, Trails Program coordinator, calls “exceptional, given the terrain.

    “Their work was excellent, and they were a pleasure to be around,” Flint said. 

    The school has been doing an annual service project with the County since 2011. 

    Kirsten Fulgham, who has been teaching the integrated science course at CFHS for at least a decade, said students love the trails work because “they get an immediate application of what they learn in class.”

    “They really like seeing the end result of what they did. You can see what you accomplished right away.”

    Junior Brandi Mogel found the work harder than she thought it would be. But “I think it’s cool and fun that we get to build trails and make it pretty again.”

    Junior Tarina Aleamoni said the trail building was the perfect assignment for her since she loves “being in nature and doing environmental work.”

    Last year Catalina Foothills students worked cleaning up a trail in the Enchanted Hills area. In past years, they have worked in Sweetwater Preserve and on part of the Arizona Trail near Sahuarita Road. 

    Sometimes the work is trail maintenance and cleanup. On occasion, the assignment is building a new trail, like the Painted Hills work. Either way, it’s tough labor.

    “It teaches us the value of hard work,” senior Rachael Huffman said, with a laugh, “because it really is hard. But it shows that a little work can go a long way.”

    The trail building also has given Huffman a glimpse of what she might like to do for a career. She knew she wanted to be an educator, but following in her instructor’s footsteps now holds even more appeal.

    “I think I’d like to teach students about nature and ecology.”

    NRPR manages five trails parks, three mountain parks and 22 trailheads totaling hundreds of miles of biking and hiking trails. Learn about volunteer opportunities to help build and maintain trails HERE.

    The Trail Times is a newsletter published three times a year by NRPR. Read the latest issue HERE. You can also asked to be put on the mailing list by emailing Ann.Khambholja@pima.gov.

    Did you know ...

    These Catalina Foothills students aren't the only ones showing their love for the Sonoran Desert. Bridgett Walters was featured in this story on KGUN9 for organizing a buffelgrass pull at her school and single-handedly elevating the school employees', parents', and students' knowledge about the problem of buffelgrass and its threat to the desert. Bridgett is the daughter of Sarah Reitmeyer, an employee with Pima County's Department of Environmental Quality.