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Arizona Ecological Services Office (AESO) introduces urban high school students to gartersnake survey techniques.
Southwest Region, May 19, 2007
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As part of a year-long pilot curriculum and research project on threatened, endangered, or sensitive species and the Endangered Species Act in accelerated biology class at Thunderbird High School in Phoenix, Arizona in cooperation with the AESO, five students assisted AESO biologist Jeff Servoss in conducting a day-long survey for northern Mexican and narrow-headed gartersnakes. 

This hands-on survey effort focused on three large lagoons and the Verde River occuring on Dead Horse Ranch State Park Lands in northern Yavapai County.  Students attended a presentation about the status of these gartersnakes and the threats they face.  Students were then instructed on survey technique and provided gartersnake identification cards.  The students spent the remainder of the day walking through potential habitat along and/or within lagoons as well as the Verde River.  Many nonnative species such as bullfrogs and sportfish were observed, but no gartersnakes were observed by this group or the other four groups of biologists surveying other areas for gartersnakes that day.  These survey results helped illustrate for the students the competiton between nonnative species on native species.  Students did have the opportunity to observe a large western diamond-backed rattlesnake, several Woodhouse's toads, and several species of lizards in addition to numerous bird species. 

Several students indicated this was their first experience in the wilderness.

This pilot curriculum and associated field opportunities were specifically and collaboratively designed to integrate wildlife/ecology/natural resource issues and outdoor opportunities to urban high school students of varying socioeconomic status, and of varying race and ethnicity, in a greater effort to promote an interest in wildlife and the outdoors for an increasingly disassociated generation of young people, as encouraged by Interior Secretary Kempthorn, Director Hall, and Regional Director Tuggle.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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