Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
By Hayleigh Daugherty, Girl Scout Troop #9
“There’s nothing good about cold, wet Girl Scout-cicles.” That was what
constantly ran through Jen Anderson’s mind for days before she was supposed to haul seven teenage girls from Scottsdale to Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge along the Mexican border. As a Girl
Scout Troop Leader with almost five years of experience, she’d seen how miserable life could get (especially for her personally) when her girls got caught in a downpour. And the weather report told
her no less. The weekend of the Arizona Antelope Foundation’s (AAF) work project of ripping out rusted old barbed wire fence was expected to be plagued with a mess of high wind
and thunder storms. But Troop 9, along with about 50 other volunteers, refused to stay home.
About nine o’clock on Friday night, Troop 9 arrived at the campsite where Jen’s husband, and the AAF’s project manager, Scott Anderson, had tents
assembled. After a good half hour of sorting out 15 sleeping bags for seven girls, the girls snuggled into a very warm tent. Sleep came swiftly, but not without fear of the dark clouds
threatening to quite literally rain on their parade the following day.
Saturday morning, Catherine, Hayl, Allison, Dallas, Ana, Emile, and Ashley emerged from their
tent more or less ready to take on the mile and a half of fence that needed to be removed from the refuge. That didn’t mean they wouldn’t accept help from a breakfast burrito and a bit of
morning caffeine. Around the morning campfire the girls met up with a few friendly faces like President Shane Stewart, Art, Kyler and Mark Boswell, as well as a new volunteer by the name
of Dory who was bravely willing to give the AAF a try. In a matter of an hour, volunteers loaded
into any vehicle with a willing driver and headed off to the visitor’s center of the refuge to meet
up with the other volunteers, all the while overcast skies still promised rain. But other problems took their place first.
Upon reaching the wildlife refuge’s visitors center fully equipped with post pullers, wire cutters,
quads, and wire rollers, the AAF was confronted with a new road block: the law prohibited non state registered vehicles from driving in the reserve. That eliminated about half of the four
-wheelers. After a few minutes of discussion among Scott, Shane, and a few other senior members, the persistence of the AAF succeeded again; it was going to take a lot more than
loss of equipment to hold the volunteers back. Gathering into their respective vehicles, it was
off again to the worksite. Luckily a single drop of rain had yet to land on the party. So far, so good.
It only took a few minutes on a well-kept dirt road to get to the starting point of the day’s fence.
Eager Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, men and women, young and old, took up tools and set to work across the rolling hillside. Despite everyone’s fears, the heavy clouds abandoned their plans
for rain and instead became a much loved overhang protecting the work force from the sun. Hours slipped by pleasantly slowly, at least for Troop 9, as the ancient barbed wires one by one
were rolled into tight coils, followed by the felling of each lone standing post. It wasn’t long until
all that remained of the barrier were thin lines in the dirt from where the wire had been dragged along the ground. Though the morning temperature was hanging in the low 70s, jackets began
to be shed as the crew continued on in hard working solitude from the rest of the world.
Munching on brown-bagged lunches, the AAF volunteers conquered the fence foot-by-foot until
the time had come to retire back to the camp for Chef Mark’s famous steak dinner. It didn’t take much more than a well earned half pound of perfectly grilled steak and a warm fire to
reward the tired volunteers for their successful day. Topped off with cold soda and the Boswell boys’ quesadillas, the day had reached a contenting end. Circles formed around the growing
flames and remained in rings of storytelling for hours into the night under the smile of a full moon
. And finally, near midnight, the storm struck. It barely mattered. With the exception of Mrs. Anderson, who was in her tent rapidly sprouting gray hair as she worried about tents blowing
away to Oz, most of the volunteers were too warm and dry to care.
The following morning brought a farewell of drizzling rain, and Mr. Ayotte’s delicious hash
browns, bacon, & egg breakfast, as the volunteers stowed wet gear and went their separate ways. From as close as Tucson, to as far as Flagstaff, we had gathered to unite under a
common goal. Antelope commonly get stuck in barbed wire and die in its clutches. Years of
past cattle grazers have left their mark on Arizona at our wildlife’s expense. I’ve been attending
AAF projects with my parents, Jen and Scott Anderson, for nearly six years. Even now, each one is still a new adventure. Whether it’s bonding with friends, hearing old stories, or just
getting a few new bruises to show off at school, there’s something to look forward to every trip.
If my mom so much as breathes of an upcoming project to the rest of our Girl Scout Troop, it is
always a vast majority screaming, “I’m GOING!” I expect to hear the same for every project, no
matter how many times we go. Nothing about taking hands-on responsibility for our planet ever gets old, even for a group of high school girls.
Tucson: Boy Scout Troop 270 - Leaders Matt Sipe & Bret Neimeyer, Warren Adams, Art
Boswell , Janet Clark, Eugene Hays, Clay Hernandez, Bob & Irene Herrington, Donna Noli, William Pinkerton, Bary Sopher, Gary Tuell , Jim Walcott, Rob Walker
Phoenix Area: Girl Scout Troop 9 - Leader Jen Anderson, Scott Anderson, Ross Ayotte, Mark
Boswell, Kyler, Samuel & Zach Boswell, Dale & Corinne Hall, Janet Millard , Andrew Oldak, Dory Raddatz, Shane Stewart, Al Sue
Oro Valley: Jim Littlejohn
Prescott: Gary Boyer, Dale Maas
Sahuarita: Rose Quiroqa , Bryce Waddell