Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA) and the historic Empire Ranch Headquarters are ideal venues for youth education programs. The Empire Ranch Foundation, in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management and other partners such as the Cienega Watershed Partnership offer a variety of youth educational experiences. For more information about youth education programs contact the ERF Administrator.
The Foundation’s youth education program was established in 2004 by Dr. Richard Schorr. Forty five students and four teachers from a Tucson middle school traveled to the ranch for an intensive day of learning. Since that time the annual education day, called Legacy Day at the Empire Ranch, has hosted hundreds of middle school students from the Elgin and Patagonia middle schools who have learned about ranching heritage through demonstrations from local ranchers and cowboys and BLM staff.
From the moment the students arrive at the Empire Ranch they are kept busy learning about ranch tools, horses and wagons, adobe brick making, roping, rawhide (reata) braiding, and dutch oven cooking. The traditional ranch barbeque lunch prepared by ERF volunteers is a special treat for instructors and students alike.
The Cienega Watershed Partnership sponsors the Youth Engaged Stewardship (YES!) program which emphasizes youth leadership and restoration activities at Las Cienegas and other watershed locations. Teens between 14 and 18 are recruited from the Tucson Basin. Various partners provide instruction on the Cienega landscape and its issues. The teens then plan and implement a restoration project such as removing invasive species and replacing with native or improving habitats. The program began in 2011 but went into hiatus with the Covid-19 pandemic. Plans for 2024 are unknown at this time but interested individuals can contact CWP at email@example.com.