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   Caver Quest Academy Program Details

The Fort Stanton Cave is an extensive yet easily navigable cave system in southern New Mexico, right below the Fort Stanton Historic Site. Home to a variety of cave-dwelling species like the Townsend's big-eared bat, it is most well-known for the Snowy River formation, a blanket of white calcite on the cave floor that makes up one of the largest single cave formations in the world at nearly 11 miles long!

Concerns about White-Nose Syndrome (a fungal disease that's highly deadly to bat colonies) have kept the cave closed to recreational exploration in recent years but PLIA, in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management and the Fort Stanton Cave Study Project, were able to bring students from local schools on an educational caving expedition this past summer. To prepare students to explore the cave safely and responsibly, PLIA collaborated with the Fort Stanton Cave Study Project to develop the existing Caver Quest program into an interactive game for Google Chromebooks. Students ventured through a 3-D model of the cave, learning a variety of subjects from cave etiquette to microbiology. To encapsulate their Caver Quest trek, students tested their knowledge in preparation for the journey to the cave.

In 2023, your support could help PLIA expand this program into more schools and age groups, giving students a chance to get hands-on with geology, biology, and outdoor skills on public lands.

We are hoping to raise $5,000 for Caver Quest Academy in 2023 to help equip students with cave safety gear and training, refine educational materials for use in the classroom, and allow more schools to participate in the field trip programs by covering busses and logistics.

   Whiptail Trails Club Program Details

Developed by PLIA in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, Conservation Corps New Mexico, the Whiptail Trails Club aims to make the outdoors more accessible to southern New Mexico's middle school students. The program serves as an introduction to the scientific, cultural, and recreational opportunities that can all be enjoyed on our public lands. Participating classes get lessons on agencies like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and field trips to the nearby lands they manage. With a focus on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields, the goal is to inspire curiosity about what public lands are for and how to use them responsibly.

PLIA also hosted a week-long camp in the summer of 2022 for nearly a dozen girls to experience public lands and develop outdoor skills. Travelling to sites like Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, White Sands National Park, and the Lincoln National Forest, the girls got valuable lessons in camping and first-aid skills, biology and natural history, and potential careers on public lands. With a successful first year in 2022 thanks to contributions from the New Mexico Outdoor Equity Fund as well as a few generous individuals and businesses, other areas of New Mexico have shown interest in hosting similar programs of their own.

With your help, we can offer this program to even more schools across New Mexico. Even a small contribution can help us develop lesson plans and coordinate trips focused on more of our remarkable public lands and inspire future generations to pursue work or leisure outdoors.

We hope to raise $10,000 for Whiptail Trails Club in 2023. This amount would allow us to keep offering this program in Southern New Mexico, and expand into the Cibola National Forest near Albuquerque! Thanks to a generous contribution from our vendor Wild Tribute, we are already $1,500 closer to that goal!

   Fort Craig Virtual Reconstruction Project Details

The late 1800s completely rocked the social and political structure of New Mexico. Once a colony at the furthest reaches of Spain's empire, the people were thrust into the industrial age when the United States assumed control of the region. One of the first acts of the new territory was constructing forts all along the Rio Grande; and in the midst of the Jornada del Muerto (dead man's journey), a stretch of desolate desert through south-central New Mexico, came Fort Craig.

The Indian Wars saw several military campaigns based out of Fort Craig, while the Civil War brought the front lines to New Mexico with the Battle of Valverde, a bloody conflict between Union and Confederate forces that set the stage for the looming defeat of Southern forces at Glorieta Pass and their eventual retreat from the West. The fort was also a temporary base during the campaigns of the Buffalo Soldiers, a group of all-black regiments that fought in conflicts all over the Western frontier.

With the aid of historians, archaeologists, and the technology available, PLIA and the Bureau of Land Management have teamed up to bring these stories to life in an interactive display for the Fort Craig Visitor Center. Visitors will hear the stories of soldiers and workers in their own words, see the ruined fort restored to its heyday using 3-D imaging, and explore the stories of individuals that were once lost to time.

Your contribution could help PLIA finish this permanent multimedia installation and bring these (sometimes forgotten) stories to today's visitors. Even a small gift can help us reach our $5,000 goal, allowing us to further refine the 3-D graphics, animations, and overall quality of the exhibit and make these historical resources accessible to everyone who visits Fort Craig. We hope you'll consider helping us bring this awesome interactive experience to Fort Craig Historic Site!