K-12 Collaboration


Students measuring height of willow plants

Synergistic effects of invasive species and climate change

Advanced Placement biology students at Flagstaff High School set up a year-long experiment to investigate the interaction of climate change and invasive species. Using a fully-factorial design, they used tamarisk legacy soil and a non-legacy control soil along with a 50% drought treatment and a well-watered control.

Camp Colton Science Camp

Middle school students were nominated to attend a week-long immersive science experience during summer 2021. The students were divided into six groups of eight to ten students. They formulated a hypothesis, designed and conducted an experiment to test their hypothesis, and presented their results to the other groups. I was the science consultant for the soil ecology group.

Middle school students holding a sign near a picnic table at their science camp


Invasive cheatgrass removal near the high school

In celebration of National Invasive Species Awareness Week, the Honor biology students removed about 30 pounds of the highly invasive cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) from around the city park near the high school.

How do root-associated fungi affect plant growth?

The shutdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges in all aspects of society, especially education. However, the commitment to place-based, experimental education required that the high school teacher and I get creative. We assembled these kits that were distributed to Honors biology students at Flagstaff High School. I joined the students via Zoom to set up their experiment and again at the end of the semester to help analyze their data.

Several sets of pots, bags of soil, and other supplies lined up on lab bench.

Restoring riparian ecosystem introductory video

During the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns, I made a YouTube video for students rather than giving my normal presentation via Zoom.


Two students displaying a cottonwood cutting they planted at the restoration site

Riparian restoration

Flagstaff High School and Coconino High School collaborated with each other and Northern Arizona University, Babbitt Ranches, the American Conservation Experience, Pulliam Trust, and others to plant over 8,000 cottonwood and willow cuttings along the Little Colorado River following the removal of invasive tamarisk.

Two educators displaying their grant award.

$2000 Grant Awarded

Ms. Emily Musta (Flagstaff High School biology teacher) and I were awarded a grant from the Arizona Community Foundation to continue our work at the restoration site near the Little Colorado River.

High school students sitting in a circle around potted cottonwood cuttings.

Students labeling cottonwoods

These students were not able to attend the planting trip, but they did volunteer their time labeling cottonwoods that other students would plant at the restoration site.

One student holding a clip board while another student examines the plants.

Plant Community Data Collection

Coconino High School students conduct a plant community survey at the restoration site.

Students standing in a circle around a USGS researcher holding a fish

Field trip to USGS experimental facilities

Students were able to tour the "fish lab" and experience how USGS scientists conduct experiments with native Colorado River fishes to better understand the threats the fishes face and what management actions might be helpful.


Two women standing in front of a scientific poster

Mentoring High School Students

Over the course of three years, I mentored seven high school seniors in their capstone projects. These students developed a hypothesis, designed and conducted an experiment, and analyzed their data. Their results were presented to Flagstaff High School and the larger Flagstaff community. Three of my students were also able to share their results at scientific conferences, including the American Botanical Society.

Three high school students presenting their work at a STEM event
A high school student labelling envelopes
Two high school students presenting their research poster at a scientific conference.
A group selfie of students and educators at the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Citizen Science at the Grand Canyon

High school students were able to attend a five day camping trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon to help measure literally thousands of trees experimentally planted to understand the effects of climate change, local adaptation, and epigenetics in restoration efforts.

Students examining tree growth in the forest

Forest health assessment

Students were shown how forest health is assessed and how forest management techniques are evaluated and executed.

Researchers demonstrating how to measure pine seedlings

Measuring Southwestern White Pine

Students and educators measured thousands of southwestern white pine seedlings at three common gardens along an elevational gradient.

Students and educators having a discussion around a table in a cabin

Sharing life experiences

This trip provided opportunities for collaboration between students but also between educators and students.


Two high school students taking water quality measurements at the local pond

Pond Water Quality Measurements

The Francis Short Pond in Flagstaff was the combined effort of decades of middle schoolers and their biology teacher (as chronicled in the inspiring book Just a Teacher). The "pond project" began in 1969 as an outdoor classroom. In 2017, I began utilizing this invaluable resource in my outdoor, place-based biology lessons.

Trail Building

In collaboration with Arizona Trail Association, students learned about how hiking, biking, and ATV trails affect the ecosystem, the concepts behind trail design, and then had the opportunity to help build a new trail near Flagstaff, AZ.

High school students using hand tools to construct a trail