I have the kind of job where I frequently look around and have to remind myself I am getting paid to do this work. Serving as Director of the UA Sky School is rewarding every single day...from interacting with an amazing group of staff, to all the students that attend our programs from southern Arizona, I am constantly amazed at the learning that takes place. The core of our program are the residential, immersive science programs that take place on Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
The Santa Catalinas are a Sky Island, part of the Madrean Sky Island complex and serve as an amazing learning laboratory. Sky Islands are loosely defined as isolated mountains that rise up from the radically different lowlands that surround them. In our case, the lowlands are Sonoran desert and the summit of the mountain is similar to a Canadian Alpine forest!
On the first day of our programs we typically spend time with students having them come up with scientific questions based on their observations as they slowly ascend the mountain. Below is an image of students discussing the grassland of the foothills.
As Spring takes hold the Cottonwood trees in the lower elevations are already displaying their magnificence.
Halfway up the mountain is a very famous lookout- Windy Point. In addition to the rock climbing (and yes, the wind) there are sweeping panoramic views of Tucson, allowing for students to contemplate the basin and range formation of the valley thousands of feet below.
Higher up, despite being mid-April, students can experience light snow showers! It's not all work at the Sky School, there is plenty of time for play!
Back to work!