Cooper Center Advisory Board

The Cooper Center Advisory Board is not a non-profit board. As an outreach program of the University of Arizona, The Cooper Center's non-profit status is maintained by The University of Arizona and University of Arizona Foundation.

As such, Advisory Board members do not hold formal fiduciary duties for the organization, but in many ways act with the fiduciary and long-term health of the organization in mind. The word "Advisory" indicates the nature of the relationship: Cooper Board members work as advisors and supporters of the director and staff.


The role of the volunteer Cooper Center Advisory Board is to bring expertise and resources to bear on issues critical to our continued growth and stability.


We are recruiting people interested in supporting our mission through volunteer Advisory Board service.

Each member of our Advisory Board serves on one or more committees - below is a list of our current committees. Interested candidates can contact or call 520-626-1825.


Complete Our Advisory Board Interest Form


Advisory Board Committees

  • Help develop, revise and update curricula and learning materials
  • Ensure that programs for K-12 students align with appropriate learning standards (State Academic Standards, Common Core, etc.) with emphasis on Arizona State Science Standards
  • Identify good opportunities to support teachers in meeting academic standards beyond STEM
  • Help support and deliver learning through any channel, including:
    Research-based, hands-on lessons in science and earth education at Camp Cooper
  • Extended program lessons for teachers to use in classrooms
  • Online resources and virtual learning for teachers or families
  • Higher education partnerships to prepare future educators
  • Professional development workshops for educators to support teaching STEM and, potentially, a range of other subjects
  • Cooper Center events and experiences for the community focused on ecological concepts and stewardship
  • Develop and maintain a log of major equipment and facilities, their expected lifespans and anticipated replacement costs
  • Develop and monitor a comprehensive program for preventative and ongoing Camp maintenance, appropriately aligned with programs from TUSD and the University of Arizona
  • Identify current and future Camp needs and recommend solutions to the CC Director, Staff, and/or CCAB
  • Help coordinate and oversee design and building projects
  • Help identify data needs and solve for meeting those needs
  • Recommend ways data can help in Cooper Center operations, including educational programming, staffing, fundraising, marketing and communications and other areas
  • Help identify where new systems could improve operations
  • Help develop those systems and support their adoption over time
  • Help in annual "audits" of key data points, systems checks and other aspects of management and operations
  • Support staff, the Advisory Board and committees by collecting and analyzing data to shed light on questions and concerns they raise
  • Use data analysis to inform strategic planning and enhance annual reports and other communications
  • Uphold and expand our commitment to provide an inclusive space for all to learn about and care for our environment.
  • Foster supportive relationships throughout our community, honoring and valuing the heritage and diverse perspectives of the students, teachers, and families we serve.
  • Advocate for communities underserved and underrepresented within the Cooper Center staff and volunteer body.
  • Promote efforts to modernize our facility to be more accessible to people of different abilities.
  • Formalize the scope, processes and makeup of this committee.
  • Plan, coordinate, staff and support donor and outreach events at Camp Cooper and in the local community
  • Support long-range fundraising strategy and planning, including providing input for setting annual goals
  • Help identify donor prospects
  • Review event and fundraising materials and provide feedback for improvement
  • Actively contribute to events and fundraising through discussions, brainstorming and sharing innovative ideas
  • Assess the current makeup of the CCAB, evaluating strengths as well as weaknesses to recognize gaps
  • Identify and research prospective CCAB members who could help address Center needs for the next several years
  • Maintain this information in a confidential document, prioritizing names for recruitment and updating at least every 6 months
  • Cultivate relationships with potential new members, sharing information with the CCAB and Director
  • Orient and involve new CCAB members when appointed
  • Ensure that all CCAB and committee members are active in meaningful work that furthers the Center's mission and vision
  • Acknowledge and appreciate participation and contributions of individuals as appropriate
  • Plan for leadership development for the CCAB and committees
  • Stay abreast of best practices for nonprofit advisory boards
  • Offer input on annual marketing and communication goals
  • Help with long-range marketing and communication strategy and planning
  • Identify and cultivate opportunities to share Cooper Center information through media and community channels
  • Help review and proof public-facing materials and messaging
  • Help amplify Cooper Center posts across social media platforms
  • Support and staff Cooper Center outreach events as needed
  • Host get-to-know events at Camp Cooper for new move-ins and others living in the surrounding area
  • Submit timely Cooper Center info to the Gates Pass Area Neighborhood Association, Tucson Mountains Association and other nearby HOAs, their newsletters and neighborhood social media
  • Share Cooper Center information at neighborhood meetings and events
    Participate in Cooper Center activities and urge neighbors to join in
  • Share feedback from neighbors with the CCAB and/or Director


Advisory Board Members

Our volunteer Advisory Board members work in partnership with our staff to provide guidance, experience, connections, and inspiration in support of our organizational mission.



Pam Francis

Pam recently retired as Executive Director for the Educational Enrichment Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to serve the students, educators, and families of Tucson Unified School District. She has also served with PTA’s and committees for many local schools, and was a Camp Cooper parent when her children were young! She brings fundraising experience and expertise to our team.

Barbara Jones

Barbara is an activist for her neighborhood, just up the hill from Camp Cooper. She has organized dozens of events for removing invasive buffelgrass from our Sonoran Desert landscape, and she also works with Manzo Elementary School as a Reading SEED coach and helps with the Southern Arizona Research, Science, and Engineering Festival (SARSEF). Barbara chairs our Neighborhood Relations Committee.

Marcus Jones

Marcus comes to us after many years of service as the Director of Engineering for Tucson Unified School District. He has served on the Board longer than any other member, and has been instrumental in facilities planning. He currently chairs our Facilities Committee, and is working to improve Camp Cooper for the future.

Earl Mendenhall

Earl spent time as a Boy Scout earning the rank of Eagle Scout and as such comes to us with a love of the outdoors and of connecting people with it. Earl’s two kids came to Camp Cooper as kids, and he had the “pleasure” of chaperoning! He has long served his community as a financial consultant, including work with school boards and bond committees. His experience and knowledge of the local community have made him invaluable to our work.

Committee Members

Patty Boggs
Fundraising & Events Committee

Michael Brasher
DEI Committee

Lynne Gaines
Fundraising & Events Committee

Emma Mendenhall
Fundraising & Events Committee

Eric Scharf
Facilities Committee


UArizona Staff Board Members

Ben Markwart
College of Education Data Solutions Analyst

Colin Waite
Cooper Center Director

Nate Byerley
Cooper Center Marketing & Communications

Strategic Plan


The Cooper Center Strategic Plan addresses five major areas of growth and development, including Programs & Staff, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Facilities Improvements, Marketing, and Fundraising.

Our goal in creating and sharing this plan is to offer our partners, donors and supporters a clear picture of the future of the Cooper Center, and milestones along the way that we will use to guide our work.

About Us

Our mission is to increase ecological understandings and deepen feelings for nature through hands-on, research-based programs in science and earth education.  We offer half-day, full-day, overnight and multi-night educational stays for students throughout southern Arizona, with an emphasis on serving students from Title I schools.


Schedule A Tour Of Camp Cooper

Facility tours are a great way to get to know our philosophy and our team.  Camp Cooper is located just 20 minutes west of downtown Tucson. Interested candidates can contact or call 520-626-1825.