Tag Archives: McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Right Here, In Our Own Backyard!

Griffiths_Gina HeadshotBy Gina Griffiths
STARS

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Class 29 embarked on our first full day of the Core Program with a little bit of uncertainty and a lot of enthusiasm. Our focus for Day One was Community Stewardship and Sustainability. This was a fantastic way to start the program year!  We were able to learn from community leaders and see examples of what can be done, often with only will and determination in the beginning. Who knew all of this was right here?

IMG_5354We began our adventure exploring the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I had no idea this hidden gem was right in ourbackyard!  Mike Nolan (Class 27), Executive Director, shared the history of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy (MSC); a group of dedicated citizens knew that Scottsdale had to protect this beautiful asset to the community. They rallied the greater community to come together and support this initiative. They have worked tirelessly for over 2 decades and MSC currently protects well over 30,000 acres. This is one of the largest urban preserves in the country! They utilize almost 600 volunteers and have identified 743 different plants and animals!  Without the forward thinking of the founders, this amazing area would not be available for urban visitors to connect with nature.

IMG_5394Next, we visited an exceptional nonprofit, Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services or STARS (I have to admit, I’m a little biased about STARS because I’m fortunate enough to be their Program Director).  We heard from the esteemed Mary King; Mary founded STARS, along with a committed group of parents, by identifying a need for services for adult children with special needs in Scottsdale. Mary has been an active community advocate all of her life and is the epitome of how to find resources and get things done. For over 41 years, STARS has been improving the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities through day programs, vocational programs and a transitions program.  On any given day, we serve over 200 teens and adults on our two campuses and in the community. And throughout the visit, I heard several long-time Scottsdale residents say “I had no idea this was here!”

Community stewardship sounds rather big and intimidating, but we learned that fine examples of community stewardship are thriving all around us.  The common theme to finding success is people.  When any one of us identifies a need, we can rally the troops and make sustainable change.  It’s not easy, but with effort and determination, we really can change the world, starting in our own backyard.  At the end of the day, I felt grateful to be a part of a community that has a strong foundation built that will help foster it into the future.

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When You See Opportunity – Seize It

Davis_MikeMike Davis, Class 28
DMB Associates, Inc.

Class 28 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program.   The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership. 

On Community Stewardship Day, Scottsdale Leadership Class 28 experienced several amazing examples of community stewardship.  Each example carried a common theme – a recognized need leads to an opportunity.  What was unique about this class was the opportunity for us to witness community stewardship through several different pairs of eyes.

PreserveOur day began at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve – a beautiful 27,800 acres of preserved land in the McDowell Mountains.  We learned about the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy which seized the opportunity to secure the Preserve for the benefit of the community and where 400 volunteers help to provide public access to the Preserve, protect the Preserve through research and stewardship and increase the community’s understanding and appreciation of the Preserve through educational programs and community events. We then walked one of the nature trails, escorted by volunteer guides.

Mary KingNext, we traveled to STARS where keynote speaker, Mary King, shared her thoughtful story on her inspiration to get involved.  She hadn’t planned to be involved in serving those with developmental disabilities – but she seized the opportunity when she recognized the need.  We toured the campus and saw countless examples of stewardship through the life changing work that the staff at STARS does every day.

Panel

Lastly, we saw practical community stewardship in an impassioned debate regarding the 2013 City of Scottsdale Bond Election.  Bothsides were represented – those for the bond, and against.  Each side made compelling arguments for their position, encouraging us, as members of Scottsdale Leadership, to make up our own minds.

Community Stewardship day showed me that there are many opportunities to participate, Mary King inspired me to seize those opportunities.

I am passionate about mentoring, and I expect to find an opportunity to serve as a mentor, possibly on the board of an institution providing mentoring services.  So now I’d like to hear from you … given your passion, what do you think your opportunity will be and how do you think you’ll get involved?

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Why I Joined, What I Learned, and What I’ll Do with It!

Sandy Adler, Class 26
Realtor, Arizona Best Real Estate

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

I love to volunteer my time to help others and to encourage organizations and programs that are particular passions of mine.  I have never had a lot of time to volunteer…but I have always volunteered consistently with at least one organization at a time.  When you volunteer at the same place for any length of time, it seems a natural progression that you end up in a leadership position in that organization. Leadership is different than volunteering.  It involves helping others to reach their goals in supporting the organization and providing meaningful volunteer experiences for them that will also further the goals of the organization.

I also love Scottsdale. As a resident for 17 years (I am originally from Michigan) I have enjoyed all the wonderful things Scottsdale has to offer from the schools (my kids are all graduates of Chaparral High School) to the Preserve to the cultural life and much more. We live in a very special place and there is nowhere else I’d rather live.

The combination of these two loves led me to Scottsdale Leadership. It has proven to be a program where I have learned so much about our community and how it functions. I also learned how to improve my leadership skills so that I can be a guide to people who want to make our community even better.

Having lived here for such a long time, I thought I knew Scottsdale very well. I volunteered as a downtown Scottsdale Ambassador for a couple of years, so I certainly knew the downtown area well. I am a Realtor and I’ve heard so many of our city employees speak at meetings about the history of the city and issues such as transportation and development and zoning. But it turns out that I only knew a small slice of the challenges and opportunities that our citizens experience.

Scottsdale Leadership taught me about some incredible programs, many of them started by volunteers who saw a need and worked to fill it, that support our citizens who may need a leg up during difficult times. I learned about our city government and how it works: about the city council, the mayor and the commissions and staff that support them. I learned about the police and fire departments and what they do every day to protect us and keep us safe in our community. I will never look at their jobs the same again. A day at the state capital meeting our representatives was also a fantastic education.

I also learned in more detail about things that we just take for granted: The beautiful public art that is all around us and how it came to be; the cultural activities that are available year around to enhance our lives; the McDowell Sonoran Preserve that provides entertainment, beauty and education about our environment.

Through our Pay It Forward Project, I learned that an idea to better the community can be executed quickly and with great success by a dedicated team. Honestly, I was skeptical at first. But I saw not just my group but four other groups create and execute wonderful programs in just a few months that will continue to thrive in our community.

Mostly, learning about all these other things, I learned about what makes a good leader by being introduced to amazing leaders in our community, and through leadership classes that were built-in to the Scottsdale Leadership program. We heard the stories of these leaders and had opportunity to interact with them and ask questions. We were introduced to concepts about the responsibilities and expectations of leaders that have changed the way I think about my role as a leader in a non-profit organization.

So, the most difficult question to answer is: What will I do with this new knowledge? How will I use it to improve my community? I have renewed my commitment to the non-profit that has been my passion for a number of years by taking on some additional responsibilities. I am enthusiastic about supporting the Dream Fair project that our team created for at least the next year. I hope to continue to support Scottsdale Leadership in its goal to support and nurture more leaders.  I see clearly now that volunteers and visionaries make the lives of all those around them better and more meaningful.

What will you do with your knowledge and how will you use it to improve your community?

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Scottsdale’s Unique Oasis

By SUZANNE PAETZER
2009 Scottsdale Leadership Class Reporter

The Scottsdale Leadership Experience
This is the 13th of a 17-article series recapping Scottsdale Leadership’s nine-month Core Program. The program educates, connects and empowers citizens who are interested in community leadership.

Does staying Calm, Relaxed and surrounded by Natural Beauty factor into your Quality of Life?

If so, you would have really enjoyed Scottsdale Leadership’s Quality of Life and Sustainability class day.  Held in Scottsdale’s own backyard – the Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve – this pristine recreational area is amazing!

Completed in May 2009, the Gateway adjoins 383 acres and is part of Scottsdale’s vision to preserve 36,400 acres.  That’s 1/3 of Scottsdale’s total land mass!

If you don’t hike, mountain bike or ride horses along the 45 miles of trails, maybe the 8,800 SF building (pending LEED Platinum certification) would catch your eye. It has rammed earth walls and uses recycled/regional materials.  With its solar energy performance (producing 105% of annual demand), rainwater harvesting (providing 100% irrigation), water efficiency (saving 250,000 gallons annually) this building is a marvel in the desert.

Or you can take a short stroll to the Amphitheater and enjoy the amazing views. The amphitheater serves as an ideal field classroom for lectures, too. For those physically challenged, there is a ¾ mile accessible interpretive trail – one of the few in existence.

Whatever route you take, I guarantee you’ll be touched by the beauty of the land and its ability to restore calm!

Scottsdale Leadership, Class 24 not only experienced the Preserve but spent time with Virginia Korte, Class 3, and president/CEO of STARS who shared the history of preserving Scottsdale’s land since the 1960’s and how the Preserve came to fruition.

To read the rest of Suzanne’s blog click here.

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