Cooper Center Advisory Board

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.


The Cooper Center for Environmental Learning (a.k.a. Camp Cooper) has been a unique treasure in the Sonoran Desert since 1964, as its vision and mission has focused on engaging learners of all ages with the natural world. Over many years the facility and educational programs grew, and now the need for expansion and growth are apparent. The current partnership between the Tucson Unified School District and the University of Arizona provides the Cooper Center with a powerful trajectory of excellence for the future. But we need your help in order to grow.

The Cooper Center for Environmental Learning Advisory Group is focused on three critical areas to increase opportunities for children and adults in learning about the earth and developing a love for the local environment. The knowledge and skills that you can contribute to Camp Cooper are integral to reaching major steps along a path that instill a deeper appreciation for this residential gem in the Sonoran Desert. Your involvement will benefit people of all ages, from across Arizona and beyond, as the Center builds better understandings of the earth’s natural operating systems, deepens the feelings for all our planet’s life, and models ways to live more lightly.


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.


Advisory Board Committees

  • Review the responsibilities and “best practices” of nonprofit advisory boards.
  • Assess the current makeup of the board, recognizing strengths and weaknesses.
  • Cultivate, recruit, and onboard new board and committee members.
  • Ensure all members are active in meaningful work that furthers the organization’s mission and vision.
  • Review the basic responsibilities and “best practices” of nonprofit boards.
  • Assess the current makeup of the board, recognizing strengths and weaknesses.
  • Cultivate, recruit, and onboard new board and committee members.
  • Ensure all members are active in meaningful work that furthers the organization’s mission and vision.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate participation and contributions of individuals and groups.
  • Inform the neighborhood locals about Cooper Center’s mission and activities.
  • Promote neighbor participation in events, activities, and funding opportunities.
  • Provide feedback to Cooper Center staff from the neighbors and their collective groups.
  • Inform business models with data and analysis.
  • Evaluate Cooper Center operations and for planning and goal-setting.
  • Develop and monitor a comprehensive maintenance program (both preventative and ongoing) for Cooper Center campus and buildings, in cooperation with any existing TUSD or UA maintenance programs.
  • Assess future needs of Cooper Center and make recommendations.
  • Coordinate and oversee design and building projects.
  • Develop and maintain a log of major equipment and facilities resources.
  • Promote and support research-based, hands-on lessons in science and earth education at Cooper Center.
  • Link our curriculum to Arizona State Science Standards for teachers to use in classrooms.
  • Grow our professional development workshops to assist educators with implementing science and STEM integrated curriculum in schools.
  • Forge higher education partnerships to prepare future educators.
  • Coordinate donor and outreach events.
  • Support long range fundraising strategy & planning.
  • Provide input for annual fundraising goal setting.
  • Review related materials and provide input for improvement.
  • Identify and cultivate donor prospects.


Advisory Board Members

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.

Eric Van Meter

Eric first became involved with Cooper Center as a consultant for communications and marketing in 2018, funded by a generous grant from Southwestern Foundation for Education and Historical Preservation. When his time was up, he had helped us increase our reach enough to turn his consulting gig into a paid, half-time staff position with benefits. And, it turned out he liked working with us so much that he has stayed involved, and we are very thankful for his continued service.

UArizona Staff Board Members

Lee O’Rourke
College of Education Director of Development

Ben Markwart
College of Education Data Solutions Analyst

Colin Waite
Cooper Center Director

Nate Byerley
Cooper Center Marketing & Communications

Interested in learning more?

Interested candidates can contact or call 520-626-1825.