Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) programming consists of paid internships for high school students to learn practical, marketable skills in watershed restoration, ecosystem restoration, and food system restoration. Current locations include Patagonia, AZ and Douglas, AZ.

Hatcher_160630_271HighRes copyMembers of the Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute planting flowering plants at a restoration site in the Sonoita Creek Wildlife Corridor. They are part of Borderlands Restoration, a conservation group, located in the town of Patagonia, Arizona, 18 miles from the border to Mexico. June 30 and July 5, 2016, Arizona.
©Bill Hatcher 2016

BECY Videos

BECY In 1 Minute

BECY At Work

BECY Intern Interviews

Stephanie lines a pond at Camp Rucker spring to construct habitat for the endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog

Stephanie lines a pond at Camp Rucker spring to construct habitat for the endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog

The Summer BECY Institute

The mission of the Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) Institute is to train the next generation of land stewards, provide marketable job skills, and educate tomorrow’s conservation leaders about the issues that surround watershed restoration. High School student interns living in the Sonoita Creek watershed near Patagonia, Arizona work with experts from a broad spectrum of innovative ecologically and socially-focused organizations over a 6-week period every summer to restore their home watershed. Through steady exposure to working professionals who have built conservation careers in unique ways appropriate to solving ecosystem challenges, high school students living within the burgeoning restoration economy in the Sonoita Creek watershed that straddles the US/Mexico border can better imagine a positive professional role in the communities where they have grown up. High school students interested in applying should be prepared for a summer of physically strenuously activities.


Students gain access to marketable job skills and hands-on experience in STEM (science, technology, math and engineering) with their involvement with the Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute through a dynamic relationship with Borderlands Restoration, L3C. Activities include:

  • Watershed Restoration
  • Passive Rainwater Harvesting
  • Invasive Plant Removal
  • Native Seed Harvesting, Cleaning and Storage
  • Native Plant Propagation
  • Sustainable Agriculture and Ranching
  • Endangered Species Habitat Restoration
  • Leadership and Team Building Training
Jake and Ben construct erosion-control structures on US Forest Service lands upstream of Douglas, AZ

Jake and Ben construct erosion-control structures on US Forest Service lands upstream of Douglas, AZ

2017 BECY Institute Structure

The 2017 Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) Institute will run June 5 through July 20th, with programs run out of both Douglas, AZ and Patagonia, AZ. Student interns will work 8-hours a day (7am-3pm), four days a week (Mon-Thurs) over six weeks. The BECY Institute curriculum calls for daily activities to match the day’s physical work in the following themes:

  • Watershed Restoration
  • Ecosystem Restoration
  • Food System Restoration

Along with attending and actively participating in field activities, student interns will need to design, plan and implement a Community Restoration Project in order to successfully graduate from the 2017 Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) Institute. Each student intern’s Community Restoration Project will support the intern’s home community as a culmination of their summer’s work.




Team BECY Douglas 2016, after a day of removing invasive species with the Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation

Team BECY Douglas 2016, after a day of removing invasive species with the Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation


The summer 2017 Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) Institute is the fifth year of the program. The BECY Institute started in 2013 through as a brainchild of famed Southwestern ethnobotanist  Gary Nabhan, with 4 Patagonia Union High School students. Many of our graduates are currently attending Northern Arizona University as undergraduates, and alumni to the program are offered leadership positions within the summer institute.



Eden planting native pollinator-attrating plants at the Patagonia Museum in Patagonia, AZ

Eden planting native pollinator-attrating plants at the Patagonia Museum in Patagonia, AZ

Past Projects

During past Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institutes, student interns were able to visit the following restoration sites: Deep Dirt Farm Institute, Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Farm, Babocomari Ranch, Santa Fe Ranch Foundation, The Nature Conservancy: Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, Walking J Ranch, Hummingbird Monitoring Network, Patagonia Union High School, Town of Patagonia Park, Windsong Peace & Leadership Center, Almuñia de los Zopilotes Experimental Farm, Avalon Eco-Village, and more.



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Press & Publication

Check out this article from The Bulletin released on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 highlighting the positive impact of the 2014 BECY Institute – Local students work to restore watershed in Patagonia by Marion Vendituoli

And this article from The Bulletin released on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 describing the Watershed Living Laboratory that the 2014 BECY Institute initiated – Students learn the ABC’s of watershed restoration by Liz Collier

The 2014 Sky Island Restoration Cooperative (SIRC) report, a collective of federal and state agencies along with non-governmental organizations working to restore the Sky Island Ecoregion. The 2014 BECY Institute was highlighted in the following from the 2014 SIRC report:  Community-Based Restoration: Approaches from the Ground Up

Exciting New Additions to the BECY Internship Program – May 25, 2015

Notes from the field: BECY Update – Allegra Mount, June 16, 2015

BECY Douglas mentioned in recent article – Sierra Vista Herald

Don’t stop there! Here’s an article from the Wednesday, July 29, 2015 publication from The Bulletin describing the graduation celebration from the 2015 BECY Institute – Students spend summer learning stewardship and leadership by JB Miller

Watch Carlos describe a rainwater harvesting project at Deep Dirt Farm Institute

Hard Work & Soft Laughter: a Morning with a BECY Intern. Essay from Grace MacGuire, BECY 2015.

BECY Program Receives Academic Evaluation. Analysis of 2015 BECY Institute Patagonia conducted by Carly Schmidt, Master’s Degree seeking student at Northern Arizona University.

BECY Institute Douglas – Final Report 2015

BECY Institute Patagonia – Final Report 2015 

BECY Institute Douglas – Final Report 2016

BECY Institute Patagonia – Final Report 2017

BECY Institute Resource Brief from the 2015 Sky Island Restoration Collaborative report

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The BECY Institute is indebted to the following individuals and organizations for their help with various aspects of the program: Kathy Pasierb, Patagonia Regional Community Foundation, Susan Wethington and the Hummingbird Monitoring Network, Patagonia Union High School, Ironwood Tree Experience, Sky Island Children’s Forest Initiative, Windsong Peace & Leadership Center, Gary Nabhan, Laurie Monti, the University of Arizona Southwest Center, Richard Collins, Santa Fe Ranch Foundation, Walking J Farm, Avalon Organic Gardens and EcoVillage, Kate Tirion, Borderlands Restoration L3C, David Seibert, Anita Clovesko-Wharton and Caleb Weaver.


The 2013, 2014 and 2015 BECY Institutes were funded by: the Patagonia Regional Community Foundation, the Patagonia Women’s Club, Partners for Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Bureau of Land Management, Me to We, US Forest Service, Santa Cruz County community members, the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Borderlands Restoration.  Tax-deductible donations are currently being accepted for the 2016 BECY Institute. Please contact Caleb to learn how to donate.

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Caleb Weaver is the Program Coordinator for the Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute. Contact him to ask questions, donate or apply at: weaver.caleb(at)


Help fund this exciting program. For more information, click and scroll to the bottom of Donations page!

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  • Our Mission

    The mission of Borderlands Restoration is to reconnect wildlife, land, and people in the Arizona/Sonora Borderland region by involving people in restoring the ecosystem on which we depend.

  • Contact

    PO Box 1191
    299 McKeown Ave, Suite #3
    Patagonia, AZ 85624

    (520) 216-4148