MCC at Red Mountain Receives National Conservation Award

Recognized for maintaining the natural heritage and native flora of the Sonoran Desert.

MESA, Arizona – Mesa Community College at Red Mountain was recognized with the North American Native Plant Society’s (NANPS) 2014 Founders Conservation Award at the organization’s Annual General Meeting, Saturday, Nov. 15 in Markham, Ontario.

The NANPS Founders Conservation Award recognizes an individual or groups' extraordinary contribution to the conservation, protection or restoration of the natural heritage/native flora of North America at the community, regional, provincial, national or continental level.

A conscious decision was made to preserve as much of the desert as possible during construction of MCC’s Red Mountain campus, keeping the building footprint small and to create a campus committed to educational excellence and environmental preservation. The campus is home to roadrunners, quail, rattlesnakes, coyotes, desert tortoise, occasional bobcats, and most recently, endangered desert pupfish.

“The cultivation, conservation and restoration of native plants and the desert is a crucial aspect to building habitat for animals,” said Dr. Andrew Holycross, MCC biology professor. “We added a cienega to the center of campus in 2010 to establish captive populations of endangered fish and frogs that can serve our public agencies in their restoration/conservation efforts, educate the public, serve as an outdoor classroom and to serve as an example of how educational institutions can have environmentally friendly native grounds.”

“We hope that having the desert as a classroom will help inspire and educate our students so they will understand and appreciate this distinct habitat and realize the need to preserve it,” commented Emily Dimson, MCC Science Lab Coordinator. “We intend to invest the award into the purchase of additional native plants for the campus.”

Harold Smith, a member of the NANPS Awards Committee commended MCC in its award notification letter to MCC stating, “Our Awards Committee was very impressed with your work to maintain the natural heritage and native flora of the Sonoran Desert. At the same time, creating this incredible opportunity to use the mature, diverse, authentic Sonoran Desert as a teaching tool…to inspire and educate students to understand and appreciate this distinct habitat and realize the need to preserve it is a commendable goal indeed!”

View the acceptance video played during the conference containing additional information about conservation efforts and learning opportunities at MCC’s Red Mountain Campus at

Learn more about the animals at MCC’s Red Mountain campus on its Facebook page:

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Dawn Zimmer, 480-461-7892,

About Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College provides outstanding transfer and career and technical programs, workforce development, and life-long learning opportunities to residents of the East Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. MCC excels in teaching, learning and empowering its more than 40,000 students who attend annually to succeed in a local and global community.  Mesa Community College is one of ten colleges that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District. For additional information please visit

About the North American Native Plant Society
The North American Native Plant Society is a volunteer-operated registered charitable organization concerned with preserving native plant habitat in wild areas and restoring indigenous flora to developed areas. Its key purpose is to provide information and inspire an appreciation of native plants with an aim to restoring healthy ecosystems across the continent. It is the organization’s belief that nature belongs in urban, suburban, and rural areas as much as in remote areas. Read more online at

The Maricopa County Community College District is an EEO/AA institution and an
equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

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Publication Date: 
Tuesday, November 18, 2014