Executive Update For You from Christine Conte

July 1, 2021

Dear Tohono Chul Family,

So much about this past year has been unsettling.

Last year at this time I was writing to you during the height of the pandemic. Tohono Chul was closed and its future uncertain. The sky was filled with lung-searing smoke from the Bighorn Fire on the mountain and there were no quenching monsoon rains in sight.

And yet, we never lost hope. We never stopped working together towards a brighter future.

This morning, all of this and more has changed for the better.

This letter comes with my sincere thanks and an incredibly wonderful piece of really good news!

Last February, I shared the news that a very generous anonymous admirer offered a challenge grant for Tohono Chul to raise an additional $200,000 by June 30, 2021.

I am overjoyed to report that YOU MET THE CHALLENGE and Tohono Chul is set to make it through the long hot summer and into early fall.

There simply couldn’t be better news as we move into a new fiscal year. As I write, I am cautiously optimistic that the fall and winter will approach “normal” and keeping fingers crossed that we, once again, will be able to host Sundays in the Garden concerts, the Fall Plant Sale, and the much-loved Holiday Nights festival.

But right now, here are a couple of highlights from behind-the-scenes:

  • Groundskeeper Shauna Smith and local bee expert Monica King have been working together to safely remove a hive of 10,000-12,000 Africanized honey bees from the public area around the Sundial Plaza without harming the bees. During the removal they were surprised to find the bees packed 7 honeycomb slabs in the small irrigation box, making full use of every inch. Shauna is happy to report that the few bees left in Sundial Plaza seem to have calmed down and lost interest in moving into a neighboring bees’ irrigation box. Click here to read.

  • Last month we launched Birds in Our Backyard, a “virtual” window on the bird life you might be seeing in your backyard or here on the grounds at Tohono Chul. Designed to reacquaint you, or introduce you to 45 of the common birds seen in and around greater Tucson area and in Tohono Chul. I hope you’ll enjoy this sneak preview URL of the newest set of featured birds– Abert’s Towhee, House Finch and House Sparrow. Click here to read.

As we gather to celebrate our nation’s independence, I cannot thank you enough. You who supported Tohono Chul in many different ways; your generous gifts, memberships, and retail sales have made it possible for Tohono Chul to not only survive but to thrive.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

As I hope many of you will also be doing, I will be taking a few weeks’ vacation to reunite with family and friends outside of Tucson.

I will look forward to seeing each and every one of you when I return—on the paths, at the Bistro, in the shops and in the galleries. And every day, I will be thanking you for all you have done to keep our precious Tohono Chul alive and well.

Warm Regards,

Christine Conte, PhD

Executive Director