Facilities at the Cooper Center for Environmental Learning
The Cooper Center site is situated on 10 acres of desert land. We are able to use the adjacent Tucson Mountain Park land through a special educational-use permit granted by the Pima County Department of Natural Resources, Parks, and Recreation. A number of trails of different lengths and difficulties are available in the park for groups with reservations and for educational purposes. The twelve buildings on the site include an office, kitchen, classroom, two materials storage buildings, six sleeping cabins, and a bathroom. The bathrooms, kitchen, classroom, and two of the sleeping cabins (Jojoba and Nopal) are handicap accessible. Other structures on he premises include a large picnic ramada, four smaller ramadas, wildlife blind and an amphitheater. Click here for a map of the grounds.
On the map, buildings are labeled with Spanish names. The following is a list of these buildings, their purpose and equipment that is available for use:
- Jojoba, Nopal, Mesquite, Palo Verde, Ocotillo, and Cholla are the six Sleeping Cabins. Each of these six buildings sleeps 12 people and contains two elevated platforms and mattresses. There are no heating/cooling capabilities or electric outlets. There are lights in each cabin. The cabins are not mouse-proof so please do not keep food in the cabins. Jojoba and Nopal are the handicap accessible cabins.
- Acacia is the Classroom. This building is the main indoor meeting area. A television set, with VCR and nature videos, is available here. A computer projector and screen are also available, as is wireless internet access through the University of Arizona public server. Please do not bring food or drink into this cabin. This building also has an air-conditioning/heating unit.
- Hediondilla (Spanish for creosote bush) is the Kitchen. It contains two refrigerators, a stove and oven, microwave, coffee maker, solar ovens for outdoor cooking, a sink with solar-heated water, a cupboard for food, and a variety of cooking equipment such as pots and pans, plates, bowls, cups, glasses, and utensils for 80+ people. We ask that you do not bring paper or styrofoam plates or cups, or plastic utensils in order to help us reduce our waste stream. Use any items you need, but clean them thoroughly and return them to the proper place after use. Upon leaving, please check to see that your equipment goes with you and the Cooper equipment stays. Labeling your cookware will help alleviate this problem. This cabin is cooled by an evaporative cooler. Note: refrigerator space is limited, so we highly recommend that you bring coolers and ice.
- The Bathroom Building is located to the southwest of the large ramada. It has a boys' room, a girls' room, and a unisex wheelchair-accessible room. For much of the year, the dual-flush toilets located in all bathrooms are flushed with rainwater collected from the building’s roof. The boys’ room also has waterless urinals along with an Eco Blue Cube system to help reduce water use. There are only toilets and sinks in the bathrooms. There are no electrical outlets or air-conditioning/heating units. There are no built-in showers in the bathrooms, but solar-heated shower bags are available for use upon request. Extra toilet paper and paper towels are available in each bathroom. Cleaning supplies are located in the unisex bathroom.
- The large Amphitheater and Group Ramada are the meeting places for the groups' introduction to the facility and its programs, for large group lessons, meals, and for evening programs. There is a large fire pit and cooking grill between these two structures. The Ramada’s attached storage room has grill utensils, a hose, extra garbage bags, and cleaning supplies such as cleaning spray, rags, brooms, and dustpans.
- Biznaga (Spanish for barrel cactus), is the Workroom. This building contains a telephone which may be used for emergencies, a first aid cabinet and program materials. It is also the location is of Activity Center kits and miscellaneous materials such as paper, pencils, and other teaching tools. The phone is the same line as the office phone, so please do not make lengthy or long-distance calls. During the day, when the Cooper staff is on duty, please do not answer the phone. The staff or answering machine will take the call. Students may only use the phone with the teacher’s permission. After 4:00 pm, when the staff has left, you may answer the phone, for it may be a call from a parent. If the call is for the Cooper staff, ask the caller to call the next day or to immediately call back and leave a message on the answering machine. Do not worry about taking messages or trying to provide general information about the center. A Celestron telescope with GPS tracking is available for use by overnight groups as are clipboards, pencils, markers, etc. Please notify the Cooper Center staff before your visit, if you would like to use this equipment or are interested in what else we have available for your use.
- Saguaro is the Office and is for use by Cooper staff. This is where you can find staff members between activities and during lunchtime. In the office we have some items for sale that help raise money for the center (tee-shirts, water bottles, buttons, pins, etc).
- In addition, there are four small Ramadas and a Wildlife Blind for small group activities.