A Conservation and Earthcare Organization

Articles of Incorporation

The articles of incorporation and By-Laws for our Organization Incorporated in the State of Arizona, December 1, 1980

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Our History of Service

Past and Current Projects from 1980 to 2015

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Philosophy and Art

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WMG’s Sabino Creek Restoration Campaign


In 2015 Amaterra provided $1000 for seed funding to support Watershed Management Group’s Sabino Creek Restoration Campaign launch.

Photo from the Watershed Management Group's website at https://watershedmg.org/rivers

Photo from the Watershed Management Group’s website at https://watershedmg.org/rivers

The campaign’s goal is to restore habitat and surface flow to Sabino Creek, located downstream of Sabino Canyon, the most visited natural area in Tucson.  Sabino Creek is located in a shallow groundwater area, where groundwater is 50 feet or less and still supports riparian habitat.  This and other shallow groundwater areas are declining as groundwater pumping increases from area residents and as development encroaches.    The campaign is a long-term, multi-faceted program including an educational/advocacy program with local residents; on-the-ground restoration efforts in private and public spaces; and policy actions to protect and enhance shallow groundwater areas.

Some of the things to be accomplished in the next two years:

  • Facilitate a stakeholder group to develop a restoration plan for Sabino Creek.


  • Lead watershed restoration workshops in public spaces in the Sabino Creek watershed, such as schools, ranches, or trailheads. Lead hands-on watershed restoration workshops with private residences in the Sabino Creek watershed, focusing on rainwater and greywater harvesting, green infrastructure, and small-scale restoration practices such as one-rock check dams.


  • Partner with four schools to teach our Shallow Groundwater Youth Advocacy Program, including two schools located within Sabino Creek watershed.  In 2014 this program was piloted with Western Institute for Leadership Development, a Tucson charter high school.


  • Run a public marketing campaign to raise awareness and inspire action to restore Sabino Creek. Publish the “Get Wet Guide: Sabino Creek,” an interactive guide highlighting recreation opportunities, cultural destinations, wildlife, and ways to protect/restore shallow groundwater areas. Create a series of 3 “Get Wet Videos” about the importance of shallow groundwater areas and a specific call to action for Sabino Creek.

For more information about Watershed Management Group, please visit their website at www.watershedmg.org

2015 Native Seeds/SEARCH $2000 Grant

2015 Native Seeds/SEARCH $2000 Grant

Amaterra’s $2000 grant to Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Farm for improving and building new  infrastructure will help take their seed conservation mission to a new level. To meet a critical infrastructure need of expansion and growth, a green house is being constructed for the production of crop seedlings and food crops.


nssseedprocesing400Sorting and Packaging Seeds

The seedlings will be sold in the NS/S Retail Store for our Spring, Monsoon, and Fall plant sales. The retail store sells seedlings from several growers in Arizona. Seedlings from the Conservation Farm will introduce new crops from the seed bank and make them more widely available to gardeners, thereby increasing the diversity of adapted and drought tolerant crops for local food production. Food produced in the green house will be sold to restaurants to promote the mission of NS/S to the public. The sale of the plant seedlings and produce from the green house will also provide a reliable income stream for the Conservation Farm each year.


Another function of this green house will be to produce seedlings for the Conservation nssfarmsunflower175Program’s grow-outs of crops from the NS/S seed bank. A new seedling house with phytosanitary protocols ensuring disease-free seedlings is, therefore, critical. Some seedlings are grown from seeds that are endangered so there is a need to ensure that the seeds can be multiplied from healthy plants. The green house also provides a season extension function so that crops that may need a longer growing season than the Patagonia site normally provides, have an improved chance of producing seed in the field.


Farm Greenhouse under big windIn addition to the season extension function, the green house will provide climate  mitigation for seed crops and for food production. This is an ever more important function in this time of changing and extreme climate. The unheated hoop house type of greenhouse will use only solar energy and ventilation to control the conditions inside the structure. This type of inexpensive, energy efficient, structure is widely used in agriculture today. These efficiencies are transferable to a wide geographic area, urban areas, and to different scales of food production.

2014 Amaterra $1000 grant to assist NSS in the following two projects


We (NSF) are purchasing a seed cleaner and screens to make our seed processing more efficient and to provide higher quality seed for our seed distribution programs. The new seed cleaner costs $5,800 and is partially funded for $3,500 by a USDA SARE grant that NS/S received to work on heirloom wheats in Arizona. The seed cleaner uses different types and sizes of screens for cleaning a variety of crops. At the Conservation Farm, we grow and clean a lot of crop diversity, therefore we will also be purchasing a set of 13 screens for the seed cleaner that cost $60 each ($780). This seed cleaner is a small-scale, 2-screen type that is an appropriate model for small-scale farms. It will be available to our farming community to use, including Borderlands Restoration who work on native plant seed conservation for land restoration. It is an example of appropriate technology that is transferable to other small farms and it could be run on solar power.

We are in the process of improving our water and energy conservation on the Farm by switching from flood irrigation to overhead sprinkler irrigation. The Farm has always pumped water up to an irrigation pond using a lot of electrical energy in order to flood irrigate. The pond is now in a endangered species restoration project with Fish and Wildlife that requires a continuous level of water to be maintained in the pond. For this reason, and for reducing the Conservation Farm’s water and energy use, we have decided not to use the pond to flood irrigate. We are looking to fund the equipment for an aluminum sprinkler irrigation system that will include mainlines, moveable hand-line sprinklers, and valves. This system will replace the gated PVC pipes that we have been using to flood irrigate. The aluminum pipes and metal sprinklers will be more durable and eliminate PVC from our farm landscape. PVC is a material that breaks down under UV in 3 to 7 years and it is not recyclable when it wears out.

Thank you Director Nancy Wall for arranging this grant.

2014: Amaterra $1000 grant to the Children’s Library in Yachats, Oregon


The Yachats Public Library is located in a coastal town of 700 in Oregon. Even though it is a “public ” library it is solely funded by the generosity of local residents. This grant  is for the Children’s Library program to create and offer a weekend children’s program in conjunction with the local adult community celebration of Earth Day 2015. This addition to the various seminars, demonstrations, beach cleanups, etc.  will, hopefully, become an annual event at the library.

Also, this grant will be applied to develop a summer reading program focused on environmental issues and concerns as they relate to the local community.  In addition to readings and videos, will be the involvement of participants with relevant expertise–trail management; sea life protection; ocean clean-up; flora habitat protection;  birding.  Also, the inclusion of previous Amaterra grant recipients; Washed Ashore and Gerdemann Botanical Preserve in your activities may be possible.

Thank you Director Joe Swaffar for arranging this grant.

2014: Grant to the Watershed Management Group, Tucson, Arizona

2014: Grant to the Watershed Management Group, Tucson, Arizona

Watershed Management Group, Tucson, Arizona


WMG6workersPreparing the land

The specific project that Amaterra is funding is a green job training program that WMG is running in partnership with Goodwill. The funding will be used to cover the time of expert instructors working with the youth and for some project materials to complete the project. Over the next two months, WMG will teach how to create a food-producing rain garden.

We will start with facilitating a design activity, where young people will learn how to design a landscape and contribute their ideas. Once the design is finalized, they will help with implementing the garden step-by-step. They will create sunken veggie beds, work on soil enhancements, and create a surrounding rain garden with native plants to attract pollinators like bees to the garden area. They will participate in planting and caring for the garden as well. They will learn about water-wise gardening and desert appropriate food crops at WMG’s Living Lab and Learning Center. We will work with the youth weekly to implement sustainable features at the Living Lab, including rain gardens, greywater systems, native and edible gardens, rain tanks, and natural building projects at WMG’s Living Lab and Learning Center.

Rain harvesting

WMG also has been working in Tucson neighborhoods (three currently) as teaching composting, demonstrating ways to capture runoff from rains and guide the water to tree wells (a really important project in areas where the streets regularly flood during storms), and encouraging the implementing of water storage tanks.



In addition to the strong local presence, WMG also has similar projects in foreign countries. Last year they partnered with Grampari, an organization in India, to give technical support and train new workers in the areas of sanitation and watershed management. This year they are shifting their emphasis to the Southwestern United States and Mexico.

Another shovel full


The Mission Statement of WMG: “Watershed Management Group develops and implements community-solutions to ensure the long-term prosperity of people and health of the environment. They provide people with the knowledge, skills, and resources for sustainable livelihoods.”

Click here to view their excellent website complete with Youtube videos.


Bee “101” Our Fascinating Bees Grant

Bee Stock Photo

“Bee Friendly, Bee Loving, Bee Kind, and most of all Bee yourself.”
–Apiarist Britt Hopper

Bees, spaceman, blue tubes, and boxes!

There are many devastating challenges facing us if we lose the precious honey bee through colony collapse caused by climate change and unsustainable use of herbicides and pesticides.  Through apiarist Britt Hopper’s own passion for the bees and Robin Macy’s Bartlett Arboretum ecosystems, both have discovered that the tenuous ecological future lies as much in the hands of our youth as it ever has throughout all of human history.



In 2013 Hopper helped Bartlett Arboretum establish their bee colony, now numbering eight hives.  In addition he is presenting Bees 101 (his bees and presentation about the bees, and bee-sticks full of varied honeys) for Second Sunday Salon — A cornucopia of Culture programming held in Bartlett’s historic train depot.  Nestled in a 100-year -old forest canopy, the 135 -year-old Santa Fe Railroad depot is located at the edge of the Arboretum property.  In 2013-2014, the depot became a restored sunny studio that attracts a creative community inspired to escape to a rural retreat to create , educate and be inspired just 20 miles south of Wichita, Kansas.  Also, at the same time Hopper took Bees 101 to more than 500 students in schools throughout central Kansas.



With Amaterra’s grant, Hopper will be able to expand the number of hives both at his home-base in Valley Center, Kansas and the Arboretum in Belle Plaine, Kansas. The goal is to increase honey production by 30% and support local pollination. Hopper will work with educators Connie Bonfy MAE, Nancy Holman MSE, and Robin Macy MSE to create Bee Happy — Bees 101educational activity book for youth grades 2-5.  The activity will contain curriculum-specific activities in science and arts infused with activities by grade level to help students learn and retain the information he demonstrates and shares with them during classroom visits.  As an aid to their grade level science curriculum, Bee Happy will help classroom educators teach Kansas youth about bee colony collapse as well as the broader issues of climate change and the other negative forces that threaten the health of bees thereby reinforcing Hopper’s presentations. Through Amaterra’s support Hopper will be able to increase Bees 101 presentations  to students both in the schools and Bartlett Arboretum school tours (30 classes per year) to reach at least 1500 students grades 2-5 each year beginning in the 2014 school year.

(above adapted from original grant proposal by Ms. Connie Bonfy)


student “thank-you” letter

The Kansas State Department of Education has adopted A Framework for K-12 Science Education Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas(2012) as the core science curriculum and standards of what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. This core curriculum along with art standards for each grade level will be used to develop Bee Happy which will contain puzzles, games and art projects that children can enjoy while learning in the classroom and at home with their families. Grant arranged by Amaterra member Jerry Harney and grant writer Connie Bonfy.


Thank you Amaterra

To Amaterra,

I am very humbled and very grateful. Your generous gift means so much to Bee University/Bees 101. I’ve been doing this on my own. Teachers would ask if I would come teach about bees. They would inform me there is nothing in the budget to have me come. But would I come anyway? My answer has always been yes. Sometimes teachers try to bless me out of their own pocket.
$15. Every now and then. I never asked for compensation from them.
I’ve found that old ears do not hear.  Bees are dying. Oceans are dying. Water is being misused. So it occurred to me to educate children of any age, any one that would hear. So I started Bee University/Bees 101. My motto is “Bee Friendly Bee Loving Bee Kind and most of all Bee yourself.”

The Honey Bee is one of a kind. The benefits from the honeybee and the hive is a major lifeline for all mankind. So to change the future I’ve taken the importance of the honeybee to children. With your help it will be done to more schools and to more listening ears.  Ears that can change the environmental course that we are on. The end result a better future a healthier world.

I am very grateful and humbled by your generosity and support. Thank you! We say/hear that every day thank you. I’m typing it in this letter it’s often taken for granted those simple words. But for me I’m screaming inside on the tallest hill Kansas has to offer with gratitude. Thank you. Thank you for being a game changer. Thank you for caring for the future of children and mankind everywhere.

With warm regards,

B.E.e Hopper

Native Seeds Search Grant 2013


Native Seeds Search Grant 2013

Native Seeds/SEARCH was named as the recipient of a $1000 grant for 2013. Their mission statement best describes the nature of this rapidly growing organization.

Native Seeds/SEARCH conserves, distributes and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico. We promote the use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by gathering, safeguarding, and distributing their seeds to farming and gardening communities. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Tucson, Arizona.

In April of this year, Danielle Johnson, who recently received a Master’s degree in social anthropology, along with four other impressive apprentices, was selected to assist at the NS/S farm and learn the process of conserving seeds. They were given room and board in exchange for 30 hours of work a week.  All of these interns put in a lot of extra time—planting, dealing with an infestation of squash bugs, harvesting the seed and working on special events for the organization. But Danielle put in more than 150 hours beyond those devoted to the other activities when she agreed to take on an extra project, The Seed Diaries.

This project was inspired by an art exhibit, Sacred Places: Watercolour Diaries of the American Southwest by Tony Foster. Each of his paintings was accompanied by topographic maps, his journal entries, and sketches of local flora and fauna that, in the words of Belle Starr, Deputy Director of Native Seeds/SEARCH, gave the viewer “a much more engaged and curious appreciation of the natural settings captured on the canvas. More than just beautiful images to be casually observed, through the attending materials the landscapes began to come alive with a complex, multi-layered story.”

In what she described as an “aha moment,” she thought about the possibility of using this approach to tell the stories of the seeds in the NS/S collection. A discussion with an art professor who was also at the exhibit led to a meeting with Bobby Long, a professor of illustration at the U of A. He agreed to take on the Seed Diaries as a project for a fall semester class. In October students in the class visited the NS/S Conservation Center for a presentation by Executive Director Bill McDorman and a tour of the Seed Bank. Danielle also volunteered to give a presentation, telling the students stories of the seeds, and to curate a sampling of 25 seeds from the collection. She photographed the seeds and plant materials and sent these photos along with information on each seed—origin, use, cultural importance, etc.—to the class, at which point each of them selected a seed to work with.

Danielle continued to devote her time to this project, visiting the class along with Melissa Kruse-Peeples, the NS/S Collections Manager, to work individually with the students. The results of the project, now completed, will be displayed at one of the University galleries, and Janos Wilder has suggested displaying them at some point at his Downtown Kitchen.

The Seed Diaries would not have happened had Danielle not graciously agreed to take on this ambitious project because, in Belle’s words, “she believed so solidly in its ability to inspire and viscerally change the way people look at and experience our seeds. As one student exclaimed upon leaving his visit at the Conservation Center, ‘This was 500 times more interesting than I expected.’”

The grant, this year, goes to compensate the unpaid apprentices for the incredible work they performed for Native Seeds Search during 2013. These funds are to be distributed at the discretion of Bill McDorman, Executive Director and Belle Starr, Deputy Director, under whose creative and inspiring leadership this organization is wildly flourishing. We thank Director Nancy Wall for arranging this grant.

ZEROwaste Project 2013


ZEROwaste Project

In 2012-13 Amaterra has provided a $1000.00 micro-grant to support the ZEROwaste project in Albuquerque, NM. The project was devised by an employee from Soilutions, Inc., http://www.soilutions.net/, named John Shaski (Ski). The premise of the project is to engage and encourage both vendors and market attendees about the process and importance of waste classification and sorting. During the Downtown Growers’ Market trash cans are removed and collection stations are set-up throughout the public park.

Each station asks people to sort their trash into three categories, recyclables, compostables, and trash. At the end of each growers’ market Ski takes the recyclables and compostables, and leaves the remaining trash for the Downtown Albuquerque Action Team. The team is responsible for cleaning the park and disposing of the trash after the growers’ market.
The ZEROwaste project currently is supported by volunteers with some support from Soilutions Inc. Soilutions Inc. provides the containers at each sorting station and a truck to haul the recyclables/compostables away. This is not a money making venture for Soilutions Inc. or Ski, but a means to introduce waste reduction and management concepts to participants at a community event such as the local growers’ market.

Amaterra determined that the best way to support this project would be to provide funding for the creation and production of educational materials detailing the classification and end-use pathways for each type of waste material collected at the growers’ market and to provide an annual report detailing how much waste was collected and then diverted to either a recycling or composting center. The goal of this project is to help educate not just the general public but also local decision markers about the importance of sorting the waste that is generated at community events. If this project is successful it can be scaled to include other growers’ markets in the Albuquerque area, and possibly other community events.

The project was arranged by our Vice President, Shawn Hardeman, supporting this endeavor with direct community involvement.

Dr. Irwin-
As team leader for the ZEROwaste initiative I wanted to contact you in appreciation for the Amaterra grant we received.

In our 2011 effort to collect and recycle ALL waste generated at the Downtown Grower’s Market we managed just over one ton of material.  84% of that material was found to be readily recyclable.

Our success flies in the face of assumed public apathy and highlights the inadequacy of the available infrastructure.

We are currently engaged in a re-branding of the ZEROwaste_initiative that will raise its profile substantially.  Future plans include expanded infrastructure and manageability that will allow us to broaden the scale. More eyes and ears, more material recovered, more momentum towards a more efficiently managed waste stream.

Please kindly take stock in the nurturing role Amaterra has taken in this endeavor.  We’ll be sure to let others know.

Regards, John ‘Ski’ Shaski

2013 Washed Ashore Project


2013 Washed Ashore Project

fishtrashsmallThis project uses giant sea life sculpture made entirely of marine debris to teach children and adults how to help save our seas. A $1000 grant in 2013, arranged by Board member Joe Swaffar, helps develop educational materials for the classroom.


Look at the program and a more detailed view of the project by opening their PDF: