The More Things Change, The More They Remain the Same


By Rink Somerday

As 2018 comes to a close, we want to look back on how far our organization has come in the past 28 years.


Humans have a funny way of putting meaning on numbers.


Some numbers are “big ones” like a 25th anniversary or a 50th birthday. Some are a coming of age, like that first year of the teens or finally becoming an adult at 21. Some numbers are more personal, like going one year without smoking or staying a full month on a diet.


As the end of the year approaches, humans also have a knack for looking back and reflecting on what the past year has brought or lost and what has been accomplished or fell through the cracks.


Being a human, I feel obliged to look back at the past and do some reflecting as to what Asombro has accomplished in the past 16 (almost) years that I have worked here.

Students plan out their video on animal and plant adaptations.


When I first started, I was the second staff member, with our director, Stephanie, being the first. I had a sharp learning curve on the local ecosystem, having grown up in Pennsylvania and living in Colorado prior to moving here. During those first few months, I learned about our Chihuahuan Desert along with the kids and came to appreciate the beauty of it.


After a few years of just the two of us, Asombro (then known as the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park) hired additional staff members, and our office moved from the downtown mall to our current location on the west end of the NMSU campus. Sixteen years later, our staff has grown to six, and we went from reaching a little more than 12,000 kindergarten – 12th grade students to a projected doubling of that number by then end of 2018.


We have seen changes to the state education standards with the introduction of Common Core Math and English Language Arts Standards. In response to these standards, we created several programs that brought science and literacy together, showing students that science isn’t a stand-alone subject; science is everywhere. With the recent adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, we have adapted some “old favorite” lessons and created new ones to bring science to a new level of instruction and learning.

Students examine ocotillo during an early Asombro field trip. Over the past two decades, teaching moments like these have remained the same!


While we have grown in size and demand, some things have remained the same. Our director does her best to make every penny count, and our board of directors is scrupulous with the budget.  Our volunteers are still the best there are. We have lost a few over the years, but new volunteers bring their knowledge and enthusiasm. We couldn’t do what we do without them.


I still get warm fuzzies when I see students I have had in the past, and they tell me they remember what we taught them. Earlier in this school year, I was in a high school, and a very tall young man – now a senior – walked up to me and excitedly said, “You came to my classroom in 3rd grade, and we did science, and we went on a field trip, and you taught us about wild animals.”


I can’t wait to see what the future is going to bring!


A few things are certain: our director will put every penny to work; our volunteers will still be the best; and kids will still be excited about science.


If you want to help Asombro continue to do this work, please consider giving to our end-of-year campaign.



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Rink Somerday is the Education Program Coordinator at Asombro. She has been with the organization for almost 16 years.