Tucson Festival of Books, March 3-4, 2023

Location: U of A Mall
Post submitted by Kathe Sudano; Photos from Kathe Sudano and Peggy Ollerhead

The Pima County Master Naturalists (PCMN) have been watching folks take delight in a beautiful mesquite box full of scat for years. No matter where we are, people make a point of trying to figure out which animals call the places they are visiting in the Sonoran Desert home, based on what they leave behind. So when the opportunity to participate in the TFOB venue with over 180 local and national exhibitors, we were thrilled!
Everyone who chats with the master naturalists at an event has a story to tell and it most always delights. They reveal the name of their favorite 4th grade teacher who introduced them to owl pellets, the ‘gift of scat’ the bobcats leave on their patios and the enchanting call of the coyotes they hear but never see. This year at Science City, a part of the Festival of Books, all of us who volunteered, had a story of our own to tell about how folks are charmed by our wild spaces!
We were thrilled our PCMN Outreach Team, in partnership with Pima County Natural Resources Park and Recreation (PCNRPR), added a new twist to our tabling efforts by expanding the display to ‘Tracks and Scat’ and it was a big hit with all ages.

By including animal footprints, otherwise known as tracks, the team created a pocket-sized take-home field guide. Peggy Ollerhead, C3, found an artist to design stamps of a variety of animal tracks of our most common desert critters and Melissa Mundt, PCNRPR, came up with the field guide design. We could not decide if the adults or kids enjoyed it more and several camps and schools want the master naturalists to share it with their students. The display also included books for kids, adults and information about the many classes, hikes and other opportunities offered by our partner and sponsoring organization, Pima County.

We distributed over 400+ field guides in two days to both Tucson residents and out of town visitors. Every individual left with a better appreciation of who else shares our trails, arroyos and wild spaces and the newfound knowledge of how they might identify even those critters they will not see.

As a multi-day event, the Tucson Festival of Books required a team of volunteers. Many thanks to the following folks: Kathe Sudano C3, Melissa Mundt C4, Summer Marshall C6, Chris Robie C5, Dana Hook C6, Linda Doughty C6,, Jan Schwartz C4, Carly Pierson C6, Elena Garcia Ansani C7, Diane Taylor C6, Izetta Feeny C6, Peggy Ollerhead C3, Dan Judkins C7, Linda Dugan C5, Francesca Ziemba C6, Andrea Hoerr C3.

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