April 14, 2013
freshman's idea becomes endangered species project
aps grant provides support
In 2010, Douglas High School freshman Mackenzie Kimbro had an idea: she wanted to restructure a section of the school’s outdoor Land Lab, which was being developed for hands-on activities in classes like Science and Vocational Agriculture. This section, called the Endangered Fish and Frog project, included a pond and two frog nurseries.
The pond was home to two endangered species of fish: Yaqui Chubs and Yaqui Top Minnows. Both species carried a parasite that thrived in the limited sunlight around the pond, a tree-clogged water source overgrown with brush and cattails. To top things off, the school district was spending up to $2,000 a month on water use.
The adjacent frog nurseries, or ranariums, were originally built in the 1990s to house Chiricahua Leopard Frogs, a threatened species listed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The original frogs were long-gone.
When she gained permission from Science teacher Paula Beacom and the Douglas Unified School District, Mackenzie and her mother, Kelly, began the clean-up work.
The USFWS supplied heavy equipment and an environmentally-conscious operator to help clear the pond. Students and faculty also supported the Kimbros’ efforts. Once the pond was cleared and a large leak eliminated, the water became healthy, the parasite cleared out and the water bill decreased by two-thirds.
Mackenzie and her mother also landscaped the ranariums, creating a wetland environment that included protective cover for the frogs, and healthy food and water sources. Chiricahua Leopard Frogs were reintroduced to the facility through a collaboration between New Mexico Rancher Seth Hadley of the Diamond A Ranch and the USFWS.
Mackenzie was recognized by the Future Farmers of America for her work uniting the ranching and environmental communities.
The project is succeeding under the guidance of Bill Radke, USFWS San Bernardino Refuge Manager. Temperature, sunlight/shade ratio, water quality, vegetation, diet and habitat suitability are being monitored.
APS provided a grant donation that helped make the project successful. Other donors and collaborators include: Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold, Granite Construction, Suarez Brokerage, City of Douglas Water Department, US Forest Service Fire Crew, DOC Wild Lands Fire Crew Bosses, Natural Resource Conservation Service, DHS Science, Culinary and Agriculture Departments, Douglas City and Bulldog 4-H clubs, FFA Students, Glenn Ranch Corporation and Community and Parent Volunteers.