Latino Conservation Week: Scavenger Hunt at Pecos National Historical Park

Over the weekend, Pecos National Historical Park (PNHP) kicked off Latino Conservation Week with a Scavenger Hunt geared towards families with children ages 5-10. The Scavenger Hunt wasn’t typical in that children were expected to stay on the course of the trail and mark the items off of a list rather than collect items with their hands. The exercise was designed to educate visitors on park resources and wildlife in a fun and engaging manner.

Ranger Suzan Schaaf informing visitors on the Park's process of brick-making.

Ranger Suzan Schaaf informing visitors on the Park’s process of brick-making.

Ranger Suzan Schaaf led the event and was a perfect fit due to her energy and enthusiasm in both working with children and providing guided tours of the park. The children were given lists of the items they needed to find that included both the names and pictures of each item and small boxes where they would check off the items as they were spotted.

Ranger Suzan talks with 8-year-old J.J.

Ranger Suzan talks with 8-year-old J.J.

The event began near the Pecos Pueblo Spanish mission ruins and before long, Suzan was offering delightful descriptions of both items on the list and notable things that visitors see on the trail. The mothers and children alike would excitedly announce whenever they spotted an item and the animals that popped up were always a big hit.

A ground squirrel takes a break on old brick wall.

A ground squirrel takes a break on old brick wall.

After 2 hours of scavenging and 1.25 miles of trail, the hunt came to an end and the group settled down to discuss their thoughts on the day while enjoying some small spoils. Lollipops and park trading cards were handed out, and everyone relaxed and replenished their water.

Anayeli, 8, smiles before descending into a ceremonial kiva.

Anayeli, 8, smiles before descending into a ceremonial kiva.

Sarah Gutierrez, mother to 8-year-olds J.J. and Anayeli, said she could not decide her favorite part of the event, that she “loved all of it.” Gabriella Sanchez, mother of twins Ermalinda and Isabella, said she had a good time going into the kiva, in addition to hanging out in the breezy overlook and enjoying the mountain views.

J.J. and Ermalinda said they also enjoyed going into the ceremonial kiva and spotting a ground squirrel hanging out on a stone wall. Isabella said her favorite part of the day was seeing the fence lizards that populate the park and Anayeli said she thought it was cool seeing all the old artifacts in the park, such as the brick walls. Ranger Suzan said she always loves being near the pinyon (or pine) trees and smelling their fresh, sharp scent.

The two parents remarked that the event was neat and a nice thing for the children in the community because it was interactive and included a lot of detail about the resources in the park as well as about local wildlife. They divulged that they found out about the event because Pecos Elementary School sent automated phone calls to parents about summer activities in the local area.

From left: J.J., Anayeli, Ermalinda, and Isabella.

From left: J.J., Anayeli, Isabella, and Ermalinda.

Ranger Suzan said she had a great time leading the tour and there was talk of possibly offering more scavenger hunt events at PNHP in the future.

Written by Christie Bartholomew
Born in Panama City, Panama, Christie Bartholomew is a recent graduate of New Mexico State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communications. Bartholomew will be spending the summer at Pecos National Historical Park, utilizing her skills as a digital media intern. From a young age, she was interested in learning about nature, poring over books from the library about animals and the environment and visiting museums with her parents. When she was 14, Bartholomew joined the Youth Conservation Corps and spent her summer constructing a nature trail with her peers in Alamogordo, New Mexico. As a college student, she spent time as a reporting intern, creating and recording content for KRWG-FM, a National Public Radio-affiliated station in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In her spare time, Bartholomew enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and two dogs, and being with family. She cares about causes such as arts and culture, animal welfare, and the environment. She seeks to pursue a career in the journalism field, using her communications skills to spread knowledge and information to the public.