About Us

Dedicated and passionate describes the Ironwood Tree Experience, Board of Directors to a tee. To ensure proper oversight and support of the ITE mission, the Board of Directors are required to meet quarterly in July, November, and March. In addition to quarterly meetings, Board of Directors Chair Board Committees and meet regularly as is necessary.

BOD quarterly meeting dates and times are posted via the ITE website prior to each quarter meeting.

BOD committees include: 1) Human Resources and Finances; 2) Youth Programming; 3) Development and Marketing; and 4) Governance. Non board members are selected to join BOD committees.

ITE Board of Directors

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Paul Bellows

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Steve Buckley

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STEVE BUCKLEY brings a deep critical awareness of the literature of place-based educational experience along with a broad ecological science background to his work with Ironwood Tree Experience. Steve was farm manager for a small start-up organic farm near Patagonia, AZ, where previously he had worked with Native Seeds/SEARCH on a 60-acre farm. He works professionally as a botanist and has worked on wild land and agricultural restoration projects throughout the southwestern United States. Steve’s passion for all things planted and flowering is evident in his work organizing local food systems through Slow Food USA and his work with agro-ecological restoration techniques. He has taught place-based classes at Northern Arizona University and holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing along with a Master of Liberal Studies focusing on Ecology. Steve is always looking to add to his awareness of how to live in place and live ecologically.

Danny Clifford

Danny Clifford

Danny Clifford

The author, James Baldwin, opined in his Notes of a Native Son that “one writes out of one thing only – one’s own experience” and that all else “depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give.” Danny Clifford would argue that we, as teachers, as mentors, as leaders, and as life-guides must accentuate for the next generation the absolute necessity of seeing the value in all experiences (good and bad) and embrace those challenges and triumphs.

From the complicated city of Chicago, a multi-ethnic parentage, twelve years in the Catholic school system, and another nearly-six years in the United States Army, Danny has taken his personal journey and used its lessons to work with Tucson’s younger generation through grassroots organizations like The Center of Attention, an afterschool tutoring and mentoring program for elementary kids, the Tucson Urban League’s Drugs Destroy Dreams anti-substance abuse high-school summer programs, and endeavored to bring a softer, more compassionate approach to the regimented structure of the Arizona Boys Ranch’s rehabilitation program for adjudicated youth.

The lure of the Sonoran Desert taught him special appreciation for environments not made of concrete and steel, so much so that, for six years, he worked in, then owned a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise where he developed his “backyard birding” hobby.

Danny is a poet, has taught composition and creative writing for six years at Pima Community College, and is currently an adjunct lecturer with the University of Arizona’s Department of English.

He brings with him a love of the written word.

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Chuck Hutchinson

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Axhel Muñoz

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AXHEL MUÑOZ is a naturalist and dynamic environmental educator from the Sonoran Desert region. He has participated in a variety of projects as a research assistant ranging from pollination biology of an endangered species to intertidal plant-animal interactions. This provides him with a broad ecological perspective. In Puerto Rico he was involved in conservation research that led to the creation of the Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge. In California he co-founded the Rainforest Action Group at California State University, Fullerton. As vice-president and then president of the group he helped conservation projects in Costa Rica and Brazil and brought speakers such as Norman Myers and Daniel Janzen to the university. In Arizona he has worked for Oracle State Park, The Nature Conservancy, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum as an environmental educator for kids of all ages. He has created many science-based environmental curriculum based on the Sonoran Desert Region as a model. He has taught students from kindergarten to university, as well as designed and taught teacher workshops. He enjoys camping, snorkeling, tide pooling, birding, dancing Salsa, playing guitar or bongos, and getting together with friends.

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Corina Ontiveros

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Corina Teresa Ontiveros is a Southwest native, public school educator, wife, and mother. She has been involved with public education in New Mexico and Arizona over the last 26 years. Working in urban and rural settings as both a teacher and a principal, she has been an ardent supporter of student empowerment throughout the years. Corina earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Secondary Education (History & English) at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico (from which she hails) and her Master’s in Education Leadership from Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. Currently working as a Master Teacher in the Tucson Unified School District’s Department of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy & Instruction, she appreciates and values collaboration, innovation, and creativity as well as the energy that youth bring to our communities.

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Josh Schachter

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JOSH SCHACHTER is a photographer, visual/digital storyteller and teaching artist, who believes “images are a powerful means of sharing stories that foster personal and community transformation.” Josh Schachter first discovered this as a Master’s student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he taught photography to 9-12 year-old, at-risk girls.” Their honest imagery and stories forever transformed my understanding of how urban youth experience nature” Josh Schachter has conducted artist residencies which have varied from teaching photography in Spanish to Mexican-American women creating an oral history book about success to helping young Indian performance artists visually explore their lives in New Delhi to teaching digital storytelling to native youth on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. For several years Josh was the Director of Photography at the Tucson-based nonprofit Voices Inc., where he mentored low-income teenagers in documentary photography and managed an after-school youth magazine program. When Josh is not teaching, he works to photograph social and environmental issues for nonprofit organizations throughout the US. Josh Schachters images have been published internationally in books, magazines, newspapers, films and web sites, in venues ranging from the New York Times to the Navajo Times.