Desert Awareness Committee

Desert Awareness Committee has been the community resource advocate for the Sonoran Desert since 1974. Our mission is to educate residents and visitors so that they may join us in understanding, conserving and preserving our diverse and fragile desert; its plants, animals, water, and wildlife.


Stroll through the ¼ mile trails at Desert Awareness Park and meet our education team guides along the way who share information about the plants you pass. Learn when and how to harvest as you stand before the plant. Gather in the interpretive center after your walk to taste foods prepared from these plants. Trail is sandy and uneven. Wear appropriate footwear. Complete circuit to all the stations will take between 45-60 minutes

Check Out Our Virtual Field Trip!

Discover. Learn. Share.

Take a trip with your class through Desert Awareness Park as a Desert Explorer! Gather data as you explore, learn all about the plants and animals of the desert, then share with others! We are excited to announce our Desert Reach Education Program is now available on a 7 segment professional video with teacher guide, ready to be downloaded and used in your classroom or home.

DAC Education and Conservation

Educating the Public

We accomplish our education mission through:
  • Our desert edibles and medicinal workshops for the public at large explaining how to harvest, prepare and use desert plants.

  • Our “Fragile Desert” publication, a practical and informative guide to living sustainably in the Sonoran Desert plus “Chloe and the Desert Heroes”, a book that will inspire people of all ages to respect the natural world and honor the dignity of every human being.

  • Our “Taste of the Desert”  cook book with 77 recipes and how-to information on harvesting and preparing desert fruits, beans, nuts and flowers.
  • Our 300 natural history articles written by members over 25 years.

Conservation – Desert Awareness Park

We accomplish our conservation mission through:

Our stewardship of Desert Awareness Park, located in Cave Creek, is dedicated to those who yearn to understand our desert home. You will find short nature trails, an interpretive center, picnic areas, children’s playground and an abundance of meaningful information about our surrounding desert. 

Join us for a park tour on the 1st Saturday of the month, November – April, tours begin at 10am and last about 90mins.


There is so much to learn about our desert.

Join us in our exciting hands on workshops which provide an opportunity to learn fascinating aspects of the Sonoran Desert. Speakers bring their knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to you in these exciting and informative workshops. Watch here for our 2023-24 workshops coming soon!


Get Involved with DAC, we cannot do it without people like you!

If you love the desert, want to know more, or want to work with us to help us accomplish our mission, come join us! Complete our online membership form, or call the Holland Center office at 480-488-1090 for more information.

Educating our Youth

Desert Reach Program

Our fourth grade school classroom program, Desert Reach, provides hands-on desert ecology experiences.

Check out our NEW Virtual Sonoran Desert Field Trip Video on YouTube and download the Virtual Field Trip Guide.


DAC Resources

Our Tastes of the Desert

Our Own DAC Cookbook
  • A new recipe book from DAC with 77 recipes including prickly pear, mesquite & more.
  • PLUS “how to” harvest & prepare desert fruits, berries, beans, nuts, flowers.

Chloe and the Desert Heroes

Award Winning Children’s Book

If you love the wildlife of the Sonoran Desert, you’ll want others to relish the characters in this tale from their perspective.

The Fragile Desert

Published by Desert Awareness Committee

Much has been published about the lifestyle, plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert. The Foothills area is called “The Arizona Uplands” and has an elevation of 2500 to 4500 feet. The Fragile Desert addresses the issues that Foothills residents may encounter in adapting to, enjoying, and understanding the desert environment.

Other DAC Publications

Great online articles about our Sonoran Desert and more!

Desert Awareness Park

Native habitat learning center

This wonderful little park, located in Cave Creek is a community gem.

At Home in the Desert

A play for classroom use

“At Home in the Desert” written by Phyllis Strupp, is a one-act play, seeking to help elementary school students sort out their difficulties by connecting with the natural world around them, the desert. The play promotes diversity and communication and is perceived as a tool for reducing bullying.  In the play, eleven year-old Chloe learns valuable life lessons from the Sonoran Desert with the help of some mysterious friends (historical figures, desert plants and animals).

Instructor Guide

Please print and keep this guide handy for future reference. It contains everything you need to know about being an instructor at The Holland Center. (Last updated 5-27-24)

Provided Services

Logistics – We provide the following logistics.

  • Participant payment (and refunds) & registration management
  • Program Manager – a single point of contact for coordination
  • Room setup per your pre-approved requests
  • Room setup tear-down, including trash removal

Marketing – We advertise your class to our onsite visitors, web site visitors, email subscribers, and social media followers in the following ways.

  • Class listing on our website/calendar
  • Class listing in bi-weekly Upcoming Events email
  • Promotion on our social media pages
  • Promotional fliers in our lobby


  • The Holland Center pays instructors with a 70/30 split: 70% goes to instructor, 30% goes toward The Holland Center’s administration expenses.
  • Payments are mailed to instructor within 14 days after the class has concluded. Please ensure that we have your correct mailing address on file.
  • If you haven’t already submitted a W-9 form for us to have on file, please print/complete the attached and return to us as soon as possible. This is required for instructors to receive payment from us, and only needs to be submitted one time (or if you have any changes).

Marketing Tips

As part of your partnership with us, we include some basic marketing to help advertise your class: a class listing on our website & in our bi-weekly Upcoming Events email, promotion on our social media pages, and a promotional flier in our lobby. Here are some additional marketing “best practices” we recommend.

  • To have ample time for marketing your class, submit your Class Proposal Form at least two (2) months prior to the class date.
  • Create and distribute your own print & digital marketing pieces for generating more excitement about your class.
  • Announce/promote your class on your own social media pages, web site, relevant Facebook groups, NextDoor, and email blasts.
  • Announce/promote your class in other offline outlets like community newsletters, activity clubs/groups, community bulletin boards, etc. 
  • Be sure to include the link address to your class listing in all your marketing. To offer quicker/easier access to your class listing offline, you can create a free QR code that, when scanned by a smartphone, will instantly take a user to the class listing page versus having to type out the link address. Search for “QR code generator” at for free options.
  • On social media posts that you create, please tag The Holland Center to boost the algorithm and help build cross-engagement on the platforms.
  • Join and engage with The Holland Center’s Facebook and Instagram communities. The more people we have engaging on social media about The Holland Center and all its offerings, the better chance we have at making the algorithms work in your favor.
  • Take photos and videos of your class activities to use for your own marketing.
  • Build upon your own “following”.
    • During your class, ask participants to help in your success by posting on social media about their experience live (during the class) or after the completion of the class – using photos, some positive words, and tags.
    • At the conclusion of your class, email participants to say “thank you” for attending, and include links to register for any future classes and an invitation to follow your social media pages.
    • Collect email addresses of your class participants to use for future class announcements as well as requests for post-class surveys & testimonials for future promotion/class development.
    • Utilize both personal and business social media pages for friending/following your class participants to get to know them better, to build upon an online community, and to expand your reach for promotion of future classes.
  • Manage expectations. It takes time to build a following and ultimately fill seats in a class. Partnering with us is often a long-game strategy for strengthening your brand, building relationships, and reaching your goals. The value of your following grows over time. Make the most out of your partnership with us by participating in our events and social media, and by embracing all marketing opportunities. A consistent presence over time elevates your name/brand in the community.

Class Preparations / Guidelines

  • If you are unable to attend a scheduled class, please let us know soon as possible.
  • If you will be using any AV equipment, consider coming in on a day prior to the class to test your setup.
  • Consider designating a class facilitator to keep time, distribute supplies, take photos/video, etc. so that you can focus on other priorities.
  • Two (2) business days prior to your class date, we will contact you to confirm enrollment numbers and provide a class roster with names and email addresses. Please consider using this list to contact attendees with a reminder about what to bring (if applicable) – or to simply let them know you’re looking forward to seeing them.
  • Please arrive by your class setup time to check in, confirm the correct room setup, and pick up the final class roster.
  • Please use the final class roster given to you on the day of your class to confirm attendance. Please have attendees initial by their name on the roster. If any participants are not on the final class roster, they likely have not paid. Please check with us to verify.
  • If you have a soft voice, consider using a voice amplifier (approx. $30 on Amazon).
  • We may have a volunteer or staff member take photos of your class, or have them observe/take notes. This helps us better market our offerings and discover ways we can improve operations.
  • Please notify a Holland Center staff member immediately of any unsafe situations. In the event of an emergency, please immediately contact 911 and then inform a Holland Center staff member.
  • At the conclusion of the class, please return the roster with participant initials to us.
  • Please leave the room in the condition in which it was found.

Terms & Conditions

Here are the Terms & Conditions that were included in your Class Proposal form submission.

  • PROPOSAL SUBMISSION: Submission of a class proposal is not a guarantee that it will be approved.  Proposals will be evaluated based on demand, capacity, room availability, and content.
  • CLASS CANCELLATIONS: We try to avoid cancellations whenever possible. However, when classes do not meet their minimum enrollment two (2) days prior to a class date, they may need to be canceled or rescheduled.
  • PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT: Instructors are to maintain a professional relationship with participants and parents/guardians of minor participants at all times. Classes should not include any content/curriculum that would be reasonably considered scandalous, controversial, defamatory, or obscene—and shall not violate, infringe, or impede the legal or equitable rights of any person, firm, corporation, or other organization.
  • EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES: The Holland Center only provides tables, chairs, and projection equipment. Instructor must provide all other equipment needed for their class. Instructors cannot store their materials at the facility, and may not use the copy machines or computers.
  • LIABILITY & INSURANCE: The Holland Center is insured in the case of any liability claim occurs against it. This insurance does not in any way provide insurance coverage for instructors. Therefore, if a liability claim occurs against an instructor, the instructor is responsible for defending herself/himself, and paying a claim brought against them.

Contact Information

Desert Awareness Committee