Phoenix, AZ – The National Forest Foundation (NFF) is proud to announce the second year of funding from The Boeing Company for $100,000 for the expansion of an innovative youth program designed to foster and strengthen the interest in STEM and technology career paths through the lens of local stewardship, public lands management, and drone technology. Through this funding,” Green Drone AZ” is meaningfully engaging diverse high school students in the Phoenix metropolitan area by training them in using basic level Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or drone technology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology while connecting them to college students and professionals in the STEM/conservation field.
The NFF is collaborating with several local partners to engage students across STEM interest areas and technical expertise levels in a real-world river restoration project – on the Lower Salt River, using data collected by students to help guide scientists and land managers in decision making. The program is made possible through a partnership with NFF, Northern Arizona University (NAU), Arizona State University (ASU), the Tonto National Forest, and Phoenix-area Public High Schools.
The Salt River is a crucial source of water, life, and beauty for Arizona, acting as a significant artery throughout the watershed and for city water supplies in the Valley of the Sun. Yet, the Salt River’s function and health have degraded over the last several decades, impacted mainly by nonnative plant species, which outcompete and use more water resources than native vegetation.
With a shared vision of restoration, NFF, partners, and Green Drone AZ students are stepping up on the Lower Salt River to better understand the benefits of restoration, supporting the river, birds, and wildlife, for people from near and far, and the state’s tourism economy.
“With the success of the pilot year of the Green Drone AZ youth program, we are so grateful to Boeing in this upcoming year to be able to catalyze the program further, engaging more students across the Valley in the fields of technology and conservation,” said Rebecca Davidson, NFF’s Southwest Region Director, and Youth Program Director. “Even as we address challenges posed by the pandemic, we are gaining momentum with the program, tripling enrollment in the updated online curriculum and virtual platform. It is inspiring to bring 21st-century skills and an appreciation for our National Forests to the next generation of leaders and public lands champions.”
“To say 2020 was a challenging year is an understatement,” said Leann Shaffer, Boeing Global Engagement Community Investor. “With Project Green Drone AZ pivoting to online learning, more students have access to this unique STEM programming than ever before, and we must continue to provide opportunities for real-world learning that impacts the community we live in.”
About the National Forest Foundation
The National Forest Foundation promotes the enhancement and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System. By directly engaging Americans and leveraging private and public funding, the NFF improves forest health and Americans’ outdoor experiences. The NFF’s programs inform millions of Americans about the importance of these treasured landscapes. Each year, the NFF restores fish and wildlife habitat, plants trees in areas affected by fires, insects, and disease, improve recreational opportunities, and enables communities to steward their National Forests and Grasslands. Learn more at www.nationalforests.org.
About the Boeing Company
Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As the top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries and leverages a global supplier base’s talents. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.