Learning about the Chihuahuan Desert

An important goal of the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition is to facilitate integration of learning about our desert into the school curriculum from kindergarten on. The Chihuahuan desert offers a wide variety of habitats that all have their own animal and plant communities, which again are interacting with each other in often wondrous ways that can amaze and inspire people, especially the young. Once children are exposed to the fascinating life of desert animals and plants and the challenges they have to master day in and out, they will appreciate our environment and understand why it needs protection. It is an environment that teaches us that we can master unimaginable challenges and prosper through them. The desert is an open book to explore and find adventures like nowhere else.

To reach this goal, the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition began developing through our teaching members free ready-to-use teaching modules for teachers of all class levels. We are offering one-hour lectures or short filler lectures. The lectures may include suggestions for activities or motivate a visit to a local museum, zoo, or park, in order to complete the learning with a hands-on exploration. The different modules are grouped roughly according to plants and animals and may be used across the curriculum. For kindergarten teachers we are developing drawings and hidden object pages that are listed on our KIDS page.

Our first selection is still small, but our team will continuously update the website with new modules and additions and/or revisions to old ones. Check our site regularly and you will not be disappointed. We also appreciate your feedback and hope that you also share with us your own modules, if you have some on the Chihuahuan Desert. For more information contact Dr. Gertrud Konings at gkonings@epcc.edu.

Teaching Modules

Agaves Download the PDF file
Agaves Download the PowerPoint file

Arizona barrel cactus Download the PDF file
Arizona barrel cactus Download the PowerPoint file

Banana Yucca Download the PDF file
Banana Yucca Download the PowerPoint file

Bobcat – Watch film

Burrowing Owls Download the PDF file
Owls Underground – Watch Film on Youtube

Cacti of the Franklin Mountains Download the PowerPoint file
Cacti of the Franklin Mountains Download the PDF file

Chihuahuan Desert Download the PDF file
Chihuahuan Desert Download the PowerPoint file

Western Edge of the Chihuahuan Desert – Chiricahuas: Mountain Islands in the Desert – Watch the Film

Color changing lizards Download the PDF file
Color changing lizards Download the PowerPoint file

Desert willow Download the PDF file
Desert willow Download the PowerPoint file

Desert Food – Ever wondered about cooking in class with native plants and fruits? Find information and recipes at Native Seeds/SEARCH .

Mountain Lion Biology – Watch film

Mexican Wolf – Fact Sheet
Related Films to watch:
– Return of the wolf: National Geographic Documentary
– Wolves of Yellowstone – In the Valley of Wolves: Documentary

Monarch Butterfly – CEC video series to North American Monarch Conservation efforts

New Mexico bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus plebeius) Download the PDF file

Ocotillo Download the PDF file
Ocotillo Download the PowerPoint file

Sotol Download the PDF file
Sotol Download the PowerPoint file

Triops Download the PDF file
Triops Download the PowerPoint file

Ever Seen a Big Bend Quonker?

Takota, a Golden Eagle from the El Paso Zoo

Education Programs Offered by CDEC Members and Affiliates

Teachers, civic organizations and members of the media will find a wealth of Chihuahuan Desert related programs and resources available from CDEC member organizations and individuals. Every year staff and volunteers present a wide variety of Chihuahuan Desert programs, many using live animals and PowerPoint presentations.

CDEC presently supports the It’s Your World Cleanup/Art Project of art teacher Candace Printz from the El Dorado High School in the Socorro Independent School District. You can support this project through their GoFundMe site.

Follow the It’s Your World Project: candace-printz_19

November Newsletter

Watch their story!

October Desert Clean-up: learning about plants in the area

Metamorphosis: Trash to Treasure Contest Results & Art Exhibit at El Paso International Museum of Art – photo-gallery available now






Other Education Programs and Resources

Find links for animal and plant identification on our Resources page.

Education Programs:
  • Chihuahuan Desert Bee Biodiversity Initiative – Pan Trapping

Directions for Pan Trapping

  • Tech H20
    TecH2O Aquatic Wild Educator Workshop Summer 2017 – To register or for more information contact Jessica BaneA� jbane@epwu.org or call (915) 621-2008.


Education Grants:

7 Environmental Education Grants You Should Apply For This Summer


Teachers Can Apply for Summer Internships at Chamizal National Memorial

The National Park Service (NPS) offers professional development opportunities for certified teachers across the country through the Teacher Corps Internship (TCI). Teachers will learn about park resources, participate in … Learn More

Big Bend For Teachers

Big Bend has a wealth of opportunities for teachers, scout and youth leaders. Whether you’re planning a park visit for your students, looking for lesson plans or other resources to use in your classroom or home, or hoping to have a ranger visit, we’ve got it.
Think of your National Parks as off-site classrooms! There are many ways to utilize America’s treasures as teaching tools. After all, we have “the real thing,” and we love to work with you to teach students the importance of the special places we all work together to preserve and protect for the future. Learn More

White Sands National Monument: Teacher-to-Ranger-to-Teacher program

The National Park Service Teacher Ranger Teacher (TRT) program is an extended professional development opportunity for educators from K-12 schools to learn about the resources and educational materials available through the NPS. TRT’s spend most of their time engaging with park education projects, learning about park resources, and developing lesson plans to use in their classrooms… Learn More

Texas Master Naturalist Program

This program will offer participants with 16 weeks of training (including 6 trips), essential information and strategies to restore and conserve our indigenous species and habitatsa  Learn More

El Paso County Master Gardeners

In El Paso, approximately 25 volunteer gardeners are selected each year and trained extensively. All volunteers chosen to participate in the Master Gardener Program are required to serve a minimum of 60 hours of community service  Learn More