Edu-Venture: Demonstrations of Arid Lands Techniques

Project Number: 
30 months
Project Duration: 
30 months
May 1, 2001 to October 31, 2003
Institution of Principle Investigator while on this project: 
University of Arizona

Investigators (most current known information)

Resident Director, Safford Agricultural Center, The University of Arizona, PO Box 1015, 2134 Montierth Lane, Safford AZ 85548
TEL: +1-520-428-2432, FAX: +1-520-428-2432, Email:
Horticultural Technician, Graham County Cooperative Extension, The University of Arizona, PO Box 127, 4 S. Bowie Ave., Solomon AZ 85551
TEL: +1-520-428-2611, FAX: +1-520-428-7023, Email:
Horticultural Technician, Graham County Cooperative Extension, The University of Arizona, PO Box 127, 4 S. Bowie Ave., Solomon AZ 85551
TEL: +1-520-428-2611, FAX: +1-520-428-7023, Email:

Proposal Abstract

The proposed plan for the Edu-Venture Demonstration was to develop an educational facility where students would come to learn about arid lands ecosystems using a hands-on approach and in a manner that the learning experience was a fun adventure. To implement the plan, the Edu-Venture Trail was constructed during the first six months of the project and the educational adventure began! Newspaper articles and information on the internet brought people from as far away as Tucson to view the monolithic dome that is part of the ‘trail’ and adults from the community to see what we had done with landscaping. And, of course school kids from pre-school to college students came to use the facilities.

The plan called for specific stations of learning to be developed. The areas that were completed are as follows: Sundial area (three were constructed or installed), soil and air temperature monitoring system, cactus garden, palm area, desert landscape area, transitional and traditional landscape area, hardening off area, hummingbird and butterfly garden, greenhouse, monolithic dome, herb garden, telescope area, compost area, vegetable garden area, irrigation system, cowboy cooking area, Indian village area and the photovoltaic array. Pictures of these areas are found in the body of the report. The Edu-Venture Trail is a fun place to visit with many subject areas ready for discovery.

Most of the learning stations have multiple uses. For example: the monolithic dome serves as a teaching area for students, and is an example of a building that is very energy efficient. This design should be considered for constructing dwellings in our arid desert environment. The hardening off area serves as an area for hardening off plants from the greenhouse and also as a teaching area for students and also as a cooking and eating area. A walk along the trail is a demonstration in arid land techniques for students and also an example of different landscape designs for homeowners, businesses and governmental agencies.

The Edu-Venture Trail is a work in progress, what we have started will continue to grow and be improved through community involvement. Members of the Master Gardener Association are planning another area adjacent to the hummingbird and butterfly garden with more flowers to beautify the trail and draw more birds and butterflies. The Girl Scouts are taking on the herb garden as a project in the spring. They will plant more herbs and spices and make trails so people can walk through the area. The Indian village will be constructed by a group of Boy Scouts as part of an Eagle Scout project. One area that we have put on hold is the full development of the traditional landscape area. The scarcity of water caused by the multi-year drought has made us reluctant to develop a landscape that would require large amounts of water.

The plan included writing a curriculum including lessons that could be used at the Edu-Venture Trail facility. A contractor was hired to write the lessons and indicate the science teaching standards that would be met by groups who completed the lessons. The Edu-Venture Curriculum Guide that was produced contains 39 lessons in 6 different units. The volume is 158 pages long and beautifully laid out in color with icons indicating which unit the reader is viewing. A copy of this Curriculum Guide is included in the Final Report packet.

The crowning part of the report is the number of people touched by the project. In the project timetable we promised to have the infrastructure complete and have the curriculum written in the first year of the project and be ready for students at the beginning of the second year. We accelerated that goal and by the end of the first year of the project a total of 1600 people had visited our facility. In the following 6 months 1350 more were educated at our location and in the last year 1839 persons visited and were taught at the Edu-Venture Demonstration area. We continue to add groups to our visiting schedule. The limiting factor will be the staff that we have available to provide learning experiences to visiting students.

Some of the groups that have come for instruction are listed below: Pre-schoolers to learn about plants, second graders learning about the weather, Cub Scouts also came to learn about the weather, third grade classes came for a corn field day. The corn maze that we grew for the corn field day was visited by many different groups, including the Mennonite school from Cochise county and 4-Hers having a Halloween party. The Eastern Arizona College Biology class used our facilities to teach Thatcher third graders about weather, irrigation, planting, composting and other things important in our arid environment. Families came to visit the Edu-Venture Trail and the Ag Center that surrounds it. The original Edu-Venture concept had a mobile water lab as part of it’s structure but the initial grant did not provide enough money to construct that feature. A subsequent grant was received, however, to add the “Water Wagon”to the trail. Water education is provided for all the fourth graders in our part of the state. The Edu-Venture Trail was the perfect facility to provide a five “C’s” field day for fifth graders from Ft. Thomas. Cotton field days are BIG, with students coming from Graham, Greenlee, Gila and Apache counties. This facility is also a perfect venue for the Farm Safety Day that brings students from Graham, Greenlee and Cochise counties. A teacher in-service was also held to acquaint teachers in SE Arizona with the Edu-Venture curriculum.

For the financial report, $75,000 was provided by the grant and $74,877.96 was expended. Other funds and grants were added to this amount to increase the scope of the project above what was initially envisioned. The result is a site that is appreciated and used by the community. It has increased the awareness of arid lands issues in the area and will continue to be used and improved in the years to come. The Edu-Venture committee is very appreciative of the International Arid Lands Consortium, for their confidence in us and their financial support to bring this great project to the level that it is today.



Norton, E.R. and L.J. Clark. 2004. The water wagon - taking water education to the youth of southeastern Arizona." In Proceedings of the Western Region County Agricultural Agents annual meeting.

Woodland, C.A. 2004. This was mainly about the Water Wagon, however a considerable amount of time was also spent discussing the Edu-Venture Trail. 28 October.

Norton, E.R. and L.J. Clark. 2002. "The Edu-Venture trail: An exciting way to promote agricultural literacy." Poster and abstract, 93rd annual meeting, ASA-CSSA-SSSA, November. Indianapolis IN.

Clark, L. 2002. "The Edu-Venture Trail, a demonstration of arid land techniques." Presented, International Arid Lands Consortium conference/workshop, October. Tucson AZ.


Support for this project came from the USDA Forest Service