An experienced real estate investor and entrepreneur, Lew McGinnis is also an active philanthropist who has held numerous leadership positions in the Methodist Church and the wider community. Lew McGinnis is the former director of the Tucson Opera Company, the Pima Air Museum, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Foundation.
Since its establishment in 1952, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has worked to preserve and protect the unique flora and fauna of the Sonora Desert region. As part of its conservation efforts, the museum strives to prevent the spread of buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare), an invasive and highly flammable species that puts the area at a high risk of wildfire.
Additionally, buffelgrass competes with native species for sunlight and nutrients, which leads to potentially dwindling numbers of the iconic saguaro cactus. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum joins the Pima Association of Governments and Sky Island Alliance in raising public awareness of the problem of buffelgrass and working toward long-term solutions.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Real estate investor Lew McGinnis has held leadership positions at a number of nonprofits over the years. For a period, Lew McGinnis served as director of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Foundation. The museum plays an important role in research and preservation of the desert.
Through the Conservation Education & Science Department, the museum spearheads ecological research of the Sonoran Desert that influences conservation policies and makes its research readily available to the public. In addition, the department offers various outreach education programs so that children and adults alike can learn about important issues affecting the desert. These educational efforts reflect the various ways that people learn with hands-on programming, as well as place-based learning and inquiry-based education.
The research undertaken by the museum is essentially interdisciplinary in nature, with experts in biology, earth sciences, botany, and ecology all working together along with specialists in ornithology and ethnobiology. Because about two-thirds of the Sonoran Desert is in Mexico, the museum also partners with researchers, educators, and conservationists across the border to ensure that findings reflect the entire ecosystem and protection efforts can be implemented across the whole desert.
Stingray Touch Exhibit
Lew McGinnis possesses more than three decades of experience in entrepreneurship and real estate with a history of establishing several successful businesses in Oklahoma and Arizona. The owner of his own real estate investment firm in Oklahoma, Lew McGinnis also previously served as the director of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Foundation. On August 5, 2016, the museum opened a new exhibit called Stingray Touch.
Stingray Touch invites guests to experience a new element of conservation for the Sonoran Desert through the introduction of a stingray touch pool. Stingrays are plentiful in the Gulf of California where the Sonoran Desert meets the Sea of Cortez and hold an important place in the ocean’s ecosystem. Additionally, their presence helped the Sonoran Desert earn its reputation as the lushest desert on earth.
Visitors to Stingray Touch will receive the opportunity to interact with de-barbed cow nose stingrays and participate in scheduled feeding times. Stingray pups featured in the pool were raised at the Phoenix Zoo and their sustainable seafood diet is made possible through a partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.
To learn more about the Stingray Touch exhibit, visit www.desertmuseum.org/stingrays.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Lew McGinnis is based in Nichols Hill, Oklahoma, and is the owner of a capital investments firm. A lifelong entrepreneur, Lew McGinnis also has served as director of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Foundation. The collections at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) are meant to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world.
The exhibits at ASDM are designed to simulate natural habitats and present the intermingling of plants, animals, and geology. The animals on display are native to the Sonoran Desert region and consist of 106 mammals, 241 birds, 361 reptiles, 122 amphibians, 10,700 fish, and 840 arthropods. The ASDM also exhibits 40,000 plants from 1,300 different species. Additionally, visitors can see 14,095 specimens of gems, minerals, and fossils, including the first and only noteworthy dinosaur skeleton found in Southern Arizona.
Some of the plant and animal species exhibited at the ASDM are endangered or extremely rare. The museum aims to educate visitors regarding the conditions of natural habitats that may now be devoid of certain plants and animals.