Northern Arizona University Student Chapter - Society for Ecological Restoration South West

Oct. 27, 2020

Who we are: Our student chapter was founded in the Fall of 2018 by a group of passionate graduate students hoping to educate our school & community about the importance of restoration. It is our goal to help provide events and opportunities to learn and participate in restoration activities. We enable students to organize and carry out hands-on restoration experiences and connect with restoration professionals at NAU and in the greater Flagstaff region. We focus on propagating native plants, working with local organizations and agencies to implement restoration projects, and conduct educational outreach regarding ecological restoration. We do our best to promote the mission of SER which is to “advance the science, practice, and policy of ecological restoration to sustain biodiversity, improve resilience in a changing climate, and re-establish an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture.” 

What we do: We have done our best to participate in and implement lasting restoration initiatives over the last two years. We have worked closely with a local organization called Terra Birds, who help build gardens at local schools. We worked on a project with them to restore an area outside of the Museum of Arizona. Last year we received a grant from the NAU Green Fund on campus to build and maintain a pollinator garden and restoration demonstration site outside one of the greenhouses on campus. This semester we have been working away at finalizing our plans with the appropriate committees at NAU to implement this huge opportunity. This restoration demonstration site will give us a center to rally around and invest our energy in. Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to get more involved in native plant propagation and transplantation. We have built some basic rock structures to help aid in water catchment in order to help maintain this garden. We had grown several species of native plants that pollinators love, and unfortunately due to COVID-19 issues we were not able to transplant those into our garden as planned. Instead a local organization run by the amazing Molly McCormick, called Plants For The People, helped us sell our native plants to the wonderful Flagstaff community in order to provide more resources to pollinators. In the future we plan to get our restoration demonstration site up and running, and we hope to host workshops, and other educational events to teach the NAU community about the importance of restoration ecology. 

In addition to implementing restoration projects we keep ourselves busy with a variety of other events and activities. We have worked closely with the Friends of the Verde River down south of Flagstaff at trash clean-ups, and invasive species removal events. Additionally, last year we successfully hosted a documentary screening of the film “Beaver Believers”, about what an important role beavers play in the functioning of river ecosystems. This semester we are holding a virtual documentary screening of the film “DamNation”, with a panel discussion that will be held the night before the SER SW Annual Conference. This semester we have still wanted to provide opportunities for students to get outside and learn about plants, so we have been hosting safe, socially-distant plant walks. It has been a good excuse to go for a walk with friends while still staying safe, despite these strange times we are in. On top of all that we have still been holding bi-monthly virtual meetings on zoom, where local practitioners give talks and undergraduate students are able to engage with them and ask questions. We as a club are very excited to see how far we have come and how much we still plan to accomplish in the future. If you are a student at a university in the SW and are interested in starting a student chapter don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Give us a follow us on instagram: @ser_nau