Tucson, Arizona – An urban city home to a little under a million people, many who don’t even know that Saguaro National Park borders them to the east and west. This park, named after the enormous sentinel cactus, lies right in their backyard!

The Sonoran Desert is no stranger to me. I have spent more than half of my life braving the 100°+ summers, observing angry monsoons and giant haboobs, traipsing across rocky outcrops and sandy bajadas, working with iconic wildlife, and watching the most spectacular sunsets that America has to offer.

IMG_20141212_070321 Arizona sunset

My park offers many challenges for my upcoming year. Being only 60 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border, approximately 41% of Tucson’s population consist of Hispanics or Latinos – yet only 5% of this population has been to Saguaro National Park. Why? In addition to this, the summer time is pretty much off-limits to outdoor programming. Before noon temperatures already reach the 100’s! And of course, just like any other park, Saguaro has a limited amount of staff who can supervise and train the number of volunteers we are looking to bring in.

IMG_20140824_183456A juvenile Gila Monster captured for research at Saguaro National Park – Rincon Mountain District (East).

This place is so unique and needs to be shared! I have a lot of work ahead of me in the next year, but I am certainly looking forward to helping Tucson realize the natural gem that is right in their backyard!

-Corina Yeh