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Our Speaker’s Bureau lecturers have developed presentations surrounding their expertise in various subjects. To schedule one of our lecturers, contact us by email.


Don’t see a topic you’re looking for?  We offer customized presentations for your and your group.  Please contact us to discuss!

The McDowell Mountains feature a peculiar past of plane crashes, ghosts, murders and wildfires.  You will learn of the impact of southwestern military, mining, ranching, urbanization and preservation activities on the natural resources of the area.  The unique contributions of women from the various cultures that inhabited the area will also be explored.  Come listen and enjoy this unusual and sometimes tragic history that befell these mysterious mountains – The McDowells!

Desert Hacks & Facts is a potpourri of skills, techniques, tricks and facts that make a walk in the desert enjoyable, interesting and survivable. Want to enjoy that hike in the desert a bit more? Want answers to questions such as: How do I find my direction when my GPS and cell phone don’t work? Can I really start a campfire with a Pepsi can? How do I know what type of animal track I am looking at? What is a glochid? How does a saguaro thrive? Where can I find pierogi? This 60-minute stomp through unusual desert trivia will prepare you to fake being a desert denizen and impress your family when they visit from Minnesota or maybe Wisconsin or even Chicago.

The people of the Sonoran Desert not only survived but thrived in the harsh environment that surrounded them.  Bernie will share the accumulated generational knowledge of these desert people and how they used plants to sustain themselves.  Learn about the amazing properties of many essential desert plants, about gathering and processing procedures and ways in which the plants were utilized.

Discover what mammal life is known to live in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, and the looming urban stressors that could compromise their existence. We will introduce you to diverse species from ground squirrels to mountain lions and the concept of regional connectivity. Learn about the recent deer collaring project by Arizona Game and Fish Department and ongoing camera trap work by the Conservancy. 

The rocks that make up the landscape of the Sonoran Desert reveal an amazing story about the world in which they were formed.  Learn about the massive forces that formed the Preserve and how the land we see today changed over geologic time.

More than a billion years ago, a huge bubble of 2,0000F magma got trapped 10km beneath our feet and began to cool. How did the magma die? Was it a natural death or murder? Who did it and how? One thing for sure – it took a while; since magma’s really tough! Dan Gruber will guide you through this amazing journey, and you will learn what happened as the last bit of magma finally turned into solid rock.

Lost your mojo? Not as creative as you used to be?  Do you have a feeling of malaise?    Learn how to apply the latest international research on the benefits of spending time in nature to improve your overall well-being.  Specific tools and a prescription will be discussed to help you use nature to improve your happiness, creativity and health.  All while we are surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery out here in our Arizona natural oasis!

Take a global look at the importance of plants and their physical properties, and how they were used throughout the centuries to aid in man’s wellbeing.  Our speaker will start globally but then move to look at some of the medicinal plants found in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

We are members of the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance (CAZCA) Steering Committee, whose main task is moving forward a strategy focused on implementation of pragmatic solutions to the challenges of conservation in our area.  Learn about the strategies being used to align, elevate, and scale efforts to conserve, enhance and restore highly valued open spaces that contribute to our local and regional quality of life and economic vitality.

The Hills are Alive! If you think the desert floor is all dust, gravel and rocks, then you haven’t taken a good look beneath your feet. The desert’s surface is full of life in the form of soil crust, lichen and desert varnish – the living things that probably cover more of the desert than any single kind of plant. These organisms have much in common — they’re all alive (yes, even varnish), they have some components that are neither plant nor animal and living filaments that are crucial to their existence. We’ll explore these life forms and how they enrich and protect the desert surface.


Bernie’s love of the desert has created a self-taught expert on the flora, fauna, ethnobotany, and the medicinal use of the plants of the Sonoran Desert. He has shared his knowledge and love of this unique area with numerous groups both on and off the trail, in a style that is not only informative, but entertaining. He is a Legacy Steward for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, and has served on the Conservancy Board of Director. He was instrumental in creating the current network of over 650 volunteer stewards that make the Preserve the jewel of Scottsdale that it is today.
Dan has a B.S, in Philosophy and Physics and a Master’s Degree in Operations Research.  Since retiring as a principal and senior partner at Deloitte Consulting, he has served in volunteer capacities with conservation-related organizations including the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance.  He was a founder of the Conservancy’s research center, the Parson’s Field Institute, and its Citizen Science Program.  He has authored a number of research papers focused on local geology, contributed to several books, and teaches courses about the natural history of central Arizona.
Len is a Legacy Steward for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and a contributing author for the Field Guide to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the Cultural Guide to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. His articles regarding the history of the McDowell Mountains have appeared in several local periodicals and have been referenced in archeological and historical studies. He shares information about the region in a style that is both entertaining and informative.   He is also the former President and Chairman of the Arizona Historical Society.

Ralph is a Master Stewart and Citizen Scientist of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. His work has been focused on the many challenges faced by wildlife in an urban preserve. Not least of these being connectivity and adequate habitat.  Through the use of radio telemetry collars and camera trapping Ralph joins the hundreds of other volunteer steward working tirelessly to care for and study the Preserve, with the hope that our beautiful desert will be enjoyed by generations to come.
As a Nurse Practitioner, Katy often prescribed time outdoors as a healing agent for her patients.  Instinctively, she knew that nature had many of the answers to achieving wellness.  Now there is scientific evidence that confirms what they both have personally experienced.  Together their energetic style, both on and off the trail, will motivate you to experience the healing power of nature.
For more than two decades Mike has given presentations and led field trips on geologic topics, helping his audience discover the stories hidden in the rocks beneath their feet and the landscapes that surround them. Mike has a degree in Geology from the University of Rochester. He is a former Executive Director of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and has also worked with other conservation groups including The Nature Conservancy and Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in the area of fundraising, communication and public relations. Currently he is a consultant who works with nonprofit organizations to help them launch new programs and uncover new opportunities to expand their impact.