Arizona has thirty-two Natural Resource Conservation Districts (NRCD) administered by Arizona State Land Department. NRCD sponsored education centers are authorized by A.R.S. § 37-1054. Their purpose is “to promote a scientifically sound, balanced appreciation and awareness of Arizona’s environment and the wise management of all natural resources.” Education centers provide statewide delivery of environmental education program, classroom program, and continuing education credits for educators.
The Verde NRCD (VNRCD) Environmental Education Center Board has identified water conservation, water stewardship, and sustainable agriculture as its priorities. During the Past seven years the Verde Watershed Environmental Education Program (VWEEP) has received tremendous positive support from local educators, community members, and local water user groups. Considered to be an effective method in educating Verde Valley youth about their future responsibility regarding water conservation and stewardship, and how their habits will impact the Verde River for many future generations. Many environmental education programs have been cut because of decreased funding to schools. The programs associated with VWEEP are free to schools within the Verde Valley, providing valuable knowledge and resources to teachers and students. It is only possible for students to learn to appreciate our natural resources by understanding how fragile they really are. This passion is not developed in a classroom, it can only happen in natural settings.
The Verde Valley is located in the North East section of Yavapai County. The 1,200 square miles of the Verde Valley encompasses the municipalities of Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Jerome, and Sedona, and the unincorporated communities of Cornville, Lake Montezuma/Rimrock and Verde Village.
The Verde Valley is home to the Verde River, which is designated as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, in addition to being one of Arizona’s only two Wild and Scenic Rivers. Additionally, the Verde River is a major tributary to the Salt River. The most significant natural resource in the Verde River Green way, besides the year-round flow of water, is the dense riparian ecosystems full of trees and shrubs along its riverbank. The Fremont Cottonwood and Gooding Willow Riparian Gallery Forest found in the Verde River Greenway is one of five remaining stands in Arizona and one of twenty such stands in the world.