A New Perspective to the Sonoran Desert

Hello everyone! My name is Diana and I am the Crew Lead for Environment for the America’s Diversity Conservation Corp in Saguaro National Park. A little bit about myself: I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. I’ve recently graduated from Arizona State University with two degrees in Sustainability and Conservation Biology and Ecology, as well as a certificate in Environmental Education. One big thing about me that all my family and friends know is that I love the Sonoran Desert, so, naturally, I was so excited to be selected for this opportunity. 

As someone who grew up in the Sonoran Desert, you would think I would be heavily accustomed to all that it has to offer, but that’s not entirely accurate. My love for this place didn’t grow from childhood memories of crisp mornings hikes or the thrill of seeing a wild javelina for the first time, it grew from educating myself about it when I was much older and finally appreciating the unique beauty of my home that’s been there this whole time. So although I know quite a bit about the native flora and fauna now, working in Tucson and seeing everything firsthand is a lot different from reading about it in the concrete jungle of Phoenix.


Although this internship has just begun, being completely immersed in the desert landscape has already resulted in so many new perspectives and experiences. The very first day on the field we removed buffelgrass, an invasive plant that is threatening the local ecosystem because it increases wildfire risk and reduces plant and animal diversity by outcompeting native species. The work we did gave me a greater appreciation for manual methods of invasive species removal because it was such hard labor but it was so rewarding to see the before and after photos.

My favorite thing we’ve done so far has got to be tortoise telemetry! I’ve personally been interested in the Sonoran Desert Tortoise for quite some time now so it was truly a privilege to get to work with them so closely. We learned how to use radio telemetry to track down wild tortoises and recorded data that is important in gauging how well their population is doing and if any measures should be taken to reduce risks to their survival.

A desert tortoise basking in the morning sun
Me (right) learning how to use radio telemetry
Tortoises are fixed with a temporary transmitter to help us locate them

Overall I am thrilled to work in Saguaro National Park and I am so excited to see what these next few months have to offer!

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