Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Center for Native and Urban Wildlife team up for SCC Desert Sonoran Club


Brenda Kochevar

Banner from inside the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife

Mike Stanley, Reporter


A thousand tiny seedlings.

This is the amount of Mesquite pods that members of Scottsdale Community College’s Sonoran Desert Club extracted to plant in the shared gardens and greenhouse located in the northeast corner of campus.

The Center for Native and Urban Wildlife [C.N.U.W.], a.k.a. “Toad Hall,” was formed in 2000 by the Biology Department to help promote environmental education and provide a platform for community activism.

“What has happened, is a student club has formed, the Sonoran Desert Club, which has a mission adjacent to our mission for the Center [C.N.U.W.]—but it is a student driven club as opposed to a departmental entity,” said Dr. John Weser, Executive Director for C.N.U.W and Biology professor at Scottsdale Community College.

As some may or may not know, Scottsdale Community College is located on tribal land, and in a symbiotic relationship spanning back 50 years, the Salt River Pima Community, together with SCC, have embraced leadership and teamwork through service learning.

The Sonoran Desert Club meets and hold host to an exhibit of live, native wildlife and educational opportunities offered at “Toad Hall.”

Weser explained that such clubs would be non-existent if not for members working together.

Nature and the environment will be non-existent without a body of stewards working together to help maintain that in which we as humans’ dwell

“We believed early on…that a great target audience is the fourth grade. A lot of their sciences are starting then, and targeting anyone at a young age to appreciate nature, to appreciate their own surroundings, and to actually learn about it, has lasting effects,” Weser said.

Nature and humankind are intertwined, human nature is intertwined and nature is the very essence of all that ever was, is, or will be.

“To be a way to get experience outside the classrooms, we do more hands-on things…we’ve had sites at the McDowell Preserve where we grew plants and re-vegetated. Currently we are growing out Mesquite Trees for the tribe,” said Natalie Case, Exhibits Curator for C.N.U.W.

The benefits of being a good steward of the Earth extend as a universal maxim, and can help combat the onset of “urban psychosis,” or otherwise ailments derived from city life.

For those in the community looking to become more involved, C.N.U.W. together with the Sonoran Desert Club will be hosting a plant sale for all. The student-driven fundraiser helps not only provide great plants at great prices, but also helps to generate a small budget directly allocated back to the hosting body of stewards.

“We do a bi-annual plant sale each year which is a way to get people interested in those plants that in turn help the wildlife…a great way to get students and the larger community involved and educated,” Case said.

The plant sale will be taking place this November, with small holiday themed items available to create unique, one-of-a-kind gifts for the holiday spirit of giving.