Join R.E.H.A.B. Yuma _ Science major not required

By Laura Cornett

Heading to their next class or on the way to grab a drink at Starbucks, students were surprised to see two large tortoises roaming the gravel and concrete between the AS and 3C buildings on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Most stopped to look and take short videos for their Snapchat stories, but had they waited a few minutes longer to get their pumpkin-spice lattes, they could have learned all about the tortoises and, subsequently, attended the first meeting of the school year for the Wildlife Society's R.E.H.A.B. Yuma.

R.E.H.A.B. (Rehabilitation, Education, Habitat) Yuma is AWC's chapter of the Wildlife Society, an international organization based on wildlife research and preservation. Their purpose is to promote positive interactions with wildlife and the environment. Formally founded in May, R.E.H.A.B. Yuma is one of the College's newest clubs and is looking for members.

What to expect
"We like to get out and get our hands dirty," said club president and AWC/NAU student George Onwiler. "Our meetings don't really look like meetings."

Only 5-10 minutes of club business and future agenda concerns are addressed at the beginning of the meetings. The rest of the time is devoted to hands-on learning guided by wildlife professionals.

"We feel our time is better spent moving away from the laboratories and classrooms and going out into the field," Onwiler said.
The club plans to work closely with the Bureau of Land Management and Arizona Game and Fish to expand their horizons.

Who can join?
"Anyone!" said Onwiler. "We'd love to get some non-science majors out here."

The club is currently comprised mostly of science majors, but any AWC, NAU-Yuma or UofA Yuma student may join. Even interested faculty, staff and community members can become honorary members. Club dues are $5 per semester.

Upcoming Events
"Tied to each of our meetings is a trip into the field, both for fun and as a learning experience," said Onwiler.

At their first meeting of the year, the club heard a lecture on tortoises from the club advisor, UofA Asst. Prof. Dr. Paula Rivadeneira, and planted a commemorative tree in the tortoise habitat courtyard, and additional meetings are scheduled for Officers' meetings are scheduled for Oct. 9 and Nov. 6. All members are welcome to attend.

Several events are lined up for the rest of the semester:

  • In October, R.E.H.A.B. Yuma is learning about the endangered Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope and taking a trip to the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge to a captive breeding pen while camping, hiking and exploring.
  • For November they are set to learn all about the wonderful world of methanogens.
  • In December they will be helping with the Bureau of Land Management's desert cleanup.

Those wanting more information can get in touch with one of the student officers on the executive board (President George Onwiler, VP Michelle Hockenbury or Secretary-Treasurer Yesenia Lopez) or with one of the staff advisors (AWC professors Dr. Cecilia Vigil, Elizabeth Renaud or George Montopoli or UofA professor Dr. Paula Rivadeneira), or they can make inquiries via email at

Photo by Corey Jones

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