A Message From Our Director
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Cooper Center

A Message of Thanks


2020 has been a year like none that I can remember. Please know that each and every one of you is in my thoughts and in my heart.

Yet even with the pandemic and all the other trials and tribulations of our current world, there is still so much for us to be thankful for.

I am incredibly thankful for our Cooper Center team - Brittne, Mariah, Nate, and Paige. Their creativity and adaptability during the past 8 months has allowed us to continue doing important work, from taking our programs online, to tackling issues of inclusion, diversity, and equity in our organization and many things in between. Each day, we are striving to stay connected to students and teachers and to provide them with fun and engaging online learning experiences.

I’m thankful for our Advisory Board and its supporting committees. These caring and generous individuals volunteer hours upon hours of their time and energy to share their knowledge and expertise with us, allowing our organization to expand and flourish, even in challenging times.

I’m extremely thankful to our partners at Tucson Unified School District and the University of Arizona, who continue to support our work even as they grapple with their own challenges. From the heads of each organization to every student, faculty, and staff member, I express my sincerest gratitude for everything you do on Cooper Center’s behalf.

Lastly, I want to thank each and every one of you out there that supports our work at Cooper Center, whether you support us financially or otherwise. The love and appreciation that you give us is incredibly powerful, and we could not do it without you. Even in these challenging times, you’ve been there for us, and we will never forget that. My pledge to you is that we will do our best to keep giving you something to smile about in the coming months, from videos on our wildlife cameras to updates on our work.

Stay safe and healthy, be kind, and have a wonderful holiday season.

Colin Waite,
Director, Cooper Center for Environmental Learning

Big News Coming,
Friday December 4th

Wow, do we have something BIG to share at the end of next week! This monumental announcement will change the future of Camp Cooper in a major way, and it’s all good news!

We will broadcast the news on Facebook live at 1pm on Friday, December 4th!

Acknowledging the Land Upon Which Camp Cooper Resides

We often tell the story of Camp Cooper by starting with Herbert Cooper, our namesake, who acquired the land that Camp Cooper sits on for TUSD in the 1950s. This is only a small part of the story of this land, and as we have looked deeper into our organization and considered the rich cultural heritage of our region, we realize that leaving out the rest is neither inclusive nor culturally aware.

The land on which Camp Cooper and much of Tucson reside were taken from the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui peoples. These tribes and others like them cared for these places and their plants and animals for generations, and they continue to do so despite their traditional homes being taken. As an organization, Cooper Center has pledged to reach out to the Tohono O’odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe in the hopes of building relationships that will benefit us all.

This summer, our team began conversations with our College of Education colleagues in the Indigenous Teachers Education Project (ITEP) to create a land acknowledgement statement for Cooper Center. ITEP Program Coordinator IngriQue Salt (Dine’/Navajo) advised us to foster cultural awareness and engagement as we initiate conversations with tribal communities. We have since discussed a larger partnership to serve students, faculty, and staff in the ITEP program.

It is crucial that we work with the Tohono O’odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe to develop our Cooper Center land acknowledgement statement, and this work will take some time. While we build these important relationships, ITEP has graciously shared the land acknowledgement that their students, faculty, and staff created for the College of Education earlier this year. The statement is shared below.


“The Cooper Center for Environmental Learning, an outreach program of the University of Arizona, sits on the traditional homelands of the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui, who have stewarded this land from time immemorial. Aligning with Cooper Center’s and the University’s core value of a diverse and inclusive community, it is an institutional responsibility for us to recognize, represent, and acknowledge the ancestors, people, culture, and history our community resides on.”

Our thanks to ITEP for their help and guidance in this process. Learn more about ITEP on their website or their Facebook page.

Rethinking Thanksgiving

November is Native American Heritage Month

Our colleagues at Arizona Institutes for Resilience (formerly Institute for the Environment) share some thoughts related to Native American Heritage Month and rethinking the traditional view of Thanksgiving in their recent newsletter.

A new exhibit, unveiled Thurs. Nov. 12 in the Arizona BookStore features the flags of Arizona's 22 Native Nations, honoring the cultures, customs & continuing contributions of the state's sovereign tribal nations.

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