South Mountain Environmental Education Center (SMEEC) is a hub for guests exploring the park/preserve that it calls home as well as a gathering place for the community to learn about plants, animals, natural history and the conservation needs of the Sonoran Desert. It also is a popular destination for school field trips. Arizona Center for Nature Conservation is committed to making SMEEC a community resource. We recognize that program fees may be a barrier for some. In order to address this need in the community, we have established funding oppor-tunities in different categories. These include: a transportation fund, field trip scholarships, visitor engagement activities fund, program scholarships, educator professional development series and a STEM ecosystem summit.

Funding Opportunities at SMEEC
Arizona Center for Nature Conservation is committed to making SMEEC a community resource. We recognize that program fees may be a barrier for some. In order to address this need within the community, we have established funding opportunities in different categories.

For more information, please contact:

Shannon Kinsman,
Individual Giving Manager
Arizona Center for Nature Conservation
602.914.4346 |

Transportation Fund

The number one reason that educators cite for not taking field trips is lack of access to transportation. In some cases the issue is funding and in other cases the availability of a bus is limited. With a transportation fund, ACNC will contract directly with a transportation company to negotiate pricing and pay the funds directly to the provider so that the school does not need to pay on the front end, which can be an issue in some districts.

Program Scholarships

While we are committed to keeping our program fees low, we recognize that the cost will still be a barrier for some. A general program scholarship fund will allow us to free access to families in need. Funds can be distributed throughout the year as requested. Donations of any size will allow us to establish and grow the Program Scholarships fund as we learn what demand is for this support.

STEM Ecosystem Summit

ACNC seeks to make a significant contribution to improving STEM and environmental education for K-12 students in the South Phoenix community. Formal and non-formal education institutions as well as businesses in the area are primed to collaborate and SMEEC is ready and able to provide the space for an initial summit to start the conversation and develop plans to seek sustained funding.

Field Trip Scholarships

Our goal is to make SMEEC field trips accessible to all schools. Title I schools need assistance covering program fees along with transportation costs for field trips. A scholarship fund would underwrite the cost of a field trip for a school in which 50% or more of the students participate in the free or reduced lunch program.

Educator Professional Development Series

Through professional development opportunities, educators gain more confidence in their own skills as well as a clear understanding of how SMEEC can directly support their student outcomes. In addition to our own staff offering workshops and other opportunities, SMEEC can serve as a host location for like-minded organizations to offer content outside of our expertise. These organizations would bring additional audience and help us to expand our overall reach. Through combined efforts we envision offering 8 – 10 full-day workshops over the course of each school year and a week-long institute during the summer. ACNC would deliver five school-year workshops and the week-long summer institute, leaving 3 – 5 opportunities for partner organizations. Donor support for these programs would underwrite the costs for both ACNC-led workshops and those facilitated by outside organizations, enhancing the professional development opportunities available to educators throughout the state.

Visitor Engagement Activities

To increase SMEEC’s appeal as a community resource, we’d like to enrich the informal, self-guided learning opportunities available to visitors. The Dottie Gilbert Reading Room at SMEEC can serve as a hub for investigations and deeper learning about South Mountain and the Sonoran Desert. Visitors can use field guides and scientific tools (microscopes, magnifying lenses, measuring tools, etc.) to identify what they’ve discovered out on the trails. Families can take a quiet break before or after a hike to relax and read, play an educational game, or investigate the natural objects lining the shelves. Rotating displays from local groups will give visitors new perspectives on the natural world and community around them.