1. National Public Lands Day
A great day to volunteer to spruce up your favorite land, and as a nice bonus, free admission to the Grand Canyon! And total do-gooder karma. Many different sites have organized clean-ups, renovations, and awesome-ifying efforts all over, several just in Arizona. Remove alien buffelgrass in the Ironwood Forest, restore mule deer habitat on the Kaibab Plateau, work on the South Rim at the Grand Canyon, pick up trash at several sites, and just generally improve things. And hey, free admission!
It's not just Arizona that's doing this one; it's the whole country. If you've got Saturday free, check it out and find something in your area.
2. Arizona Insect Festival
Seriously, could there be a cooler festival? For the first time, from 8 a.m. to noon tomorrow on the University of Arizona Mall, you can go learn all about venom, multifaceted eyes, decomposition, pollination, and all kinds of other awesome insect-related topics at more than 20 booths and displays at the 2011 Arizona Insect Festival. There will be stuff to see, magnify, hold, build, and -- if you're brave -- eat. They even have a zoo for the non-insect arthropods! Good times. Bring you camera!
3. Bye Bye Buzzards
So you may have heard me say once or twice how I like turkey vultures. Tomorrow marks the 20th annual Bye Bye Buzzards Day, celebrating the birds as the migratory flock heads to Mexico. Arrive early (the arboretum opens an hour early, at 7 a.m.) if you want to see the arboretum's resident vultures warm their wings and take off in the morning. They usually take to the air around 8 or 8:30. During and afterward, you can enjoy a bird talk and bird walk by ASU Professor Dave Pearson.
If you get there a little later, there's always the Arizona Game & Fish living exhibit of birds, reptiles and small mammals, which will be set up from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the Smith Building. They'll have a turkey vulture, of course, and always bring a rotating cast of photogenic birds and other animals with them, including hawks, owls, herons, hummingbirds, and other rehabilitated but unreleasable animals. Again, bring your camera.
4. Butterfly Bash
Head to the Chandler Environmental Education Center at Veteran's Oasis Park tomorrow for a huge (free!) dose of butterfly. Guided walks, booths, presentations, crafts, face painting, and more all celebrate everyone's favorite photogenic insects, with information on butterflies' lives and especially the remarkable monarch migration. Be there from 10 to 10:30 a.m. to watch a live release of monarchs -- if you're lucky, you might get to help.
I probably don't need to say it, but bring a camera.
5. Free Museum Day
Again, this isn't an Arizona-only observance, but Arizona's certainly got some good participating museums. Smithsonian Magazine has declared September 24 Museum Day. If you go to their website, you can download a ticket for two free admissions. That simple. I'm looking at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, if I can squeeze it in. Go to the site to see which museums are participating. It's a great way to check out a new one at no cost! If you have kids, I'd try the Arizona Museum for Youth, or the Museum of Natural History. You can't beat the dinosaur museum. (P.S. It has a ton of other cool stuff. But you know your kids call it that too.)
Those are my recommendations. There's more going on, but these were the biggest blips on our radar for Saturday. If you come to a certain entomological or scavenger-themed event, look for me!
If you run out of day tomorrow, there are plenty of ongoing things too:
- The Big Bugs at Desert Botanical Garden. I'm totally going there. With a camera. Probably more than once.
- The Flagstaff Festival of Science runs from today until October 2.
- The Phoenix Zoo just got baby Komodo dragons! Yes, I do think they're cute. Yes, I know I'm weird. But they really are. Catch them through spring 2012.
And more. Share in the comments, or just tell me where you'll be this weekend. Happy weekend, everyone. Here's to hoping the fall actually remembers to arrive.