Tucumcari Benefits from Outdoor Classroom
April 21, 2014
Rey Adame (505) 761-4406
TUCUMCARI, N.M. – A vision, plan, community support and a solid partnership helped shape what once was considered a liability into one of Quay County’s most useful and enduring assets. “The Tucumcari Outdoor Classroom site was a wasteland 15 years ago,” said Bob Bruce, a man who has been instrumental in the planning, development and improvements that carried this conversion project to fruition.
Bruce is a retired Area Conservationist for the Natural Resource and Conservation Services (NRCS) and former El Llano Estacado Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) coordinator. He is currently a board member on the Canadian River Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Tucumcari.
Originally, the project planners’ intent was to do something with this 8.5 acre eyesore near the newly built elementary school. The site was in desperate need of vegetation. The El Llano RC&D went to the NRCS office in Tucumcari for ideas and help in getting the project off the ground. The NRCS met with planning members and conducted a natural resource inventory at the site. The RC&D applied and was approved for an Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract to help achieve their goal.
The EQIP contract built a 1.8 acre pond, seeded a 5.5 acre are with various grasses, built a 3,200-foot trail, rock waterway, rock retaining wall, a bridge, well and irrigation system for watering the various vegetation, outdoor classroom and relocated a fence. Trees and grasses were soon planted, a pond was added and then a Kiva Learning Center was built for outdoor lectures and other activities. The pond is the central focus of the outdoor classroom as students can see first-hand the various aquatic floras, fauna and wildlife.
As the landscape project progressed, new partners joined in the effort to make this a multi-purpose long-term asset to Quay County. A few years into the project someone came up with the idea of using the site to observe the national Earth Day celebration. Hundreds of students, teachers and volunteers from Quay and surrounding counties take part in this annual event that gives students a first-hand look in the world of natural science. This is the 12th year that the Earth Day event was held at the Tucumcari Outdoor Classroom.
The Outdoor Classroom was a project built by the El Llano RC&D; Canadian River SWCD; NRCS; Altrusa International of Tucumcari, Mesalands Community College; Arch Hurley Conservancy District; City of Tucumcari; Tucumcari Tree Board; Quay County government; Tucumcari Agricultural Science Center; NRCS Los Lunas Plant Materials Center and the Teacher Steering Committee at Tucumcari Elementary School.
Area businesses and organizations were also instrumental in making this a successful endeavor. Comcast Cable Communications, Le Deane Studio, Shipley Systems, Tucumcari Rotary Club, Quality Tries and Luce, Versatile Construction, Tucumcari Elks Lodge, Quay County Sun, Curtis and Curtis Seed Company, Altrusa International of Tucumcari, Tumbleweed 4-H, Engineers, Inc., and Custom Design and Supply have provided or continue to provide their support.
(NOTE TO MEDIA): If you need additional details, please contact the Tucumcari NRCS Field Office at (575) 461-3801, extension 3.
Garrett LeMons, a program student with the paleontology department at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari, holds a model of a dinosaur head that he showed students at the 2014 Earth Day event in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Approximately 1,000 students, teachers and volunteers attended this year’s observance. The Mesalands Dinosaur Museum demonstration was one of 10 stations at this year’s Earth Day observance at the Tucumcari Outdoor Classroom on April 16th.
(Photo courtesy of Rey Adame)