Arizona Spark at the Arizona Opera Company



The Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum’s Efforts to Fight Buffelgrass


Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum pic

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Real estate investor Lew McGinnis began his career as an entrepreneur when he was 12 years old. Early success led to numerous ventures that included auto sales and real estate. A longtime philanthropist as well, Lew McGinnis has served as an advocate for literacy and education. He has served as the director of a number of organizations, including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Foundation.

On its 98-acre campus in Tucson, Arizona, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum blends exhibits that feature zoological, botanical, artistic, and historical themes. Unlike other museums, Arizona-Sonora Desert successfully brings different disciplines together to inspire residents and visitors and to increase their understanding of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem.

A key element of the museum’s endeavors includes a commitment to conservation and education. The Conservation Education and Science Department serves as a regional hub for ongoing educational, awareness, and research programming. The department is currently an integral part of the region’s fight against buffelgrass, an invasive plant that is a significant threat to the Sonoran Desert’s ecosystem.

Indigenous to Africa and Asia, buffelgrass was introduced to the region in the 1940s in an experiment to test the grass’s effectiveness in preventing erosion. Unfortunately, the grass spread and now competes with native species for precious water, nutrients, and space. Researchers have noticed a significant reduction of saguaro cactus populations since buffelgrass was introduced.

In addition to damaging the Sonoran Desert’s ecosystem, buffelgrass poses a risk to life and property. The grass is drought hardy, extremely durable, and fire resistant. Fires that start in areas with prolific buffelgrass burn hotter and spread faster.

Efforts to remove buffelgrass include manual and mechanical removal, chemical application, and biological control. Awareness campaigns have been launched to educate the public about the risks of buffelgrass. Conservation efforts also involve recruiting volunteers to manually remove the plants.

Conserving the Sonoran Desert’s Native Pollinators


Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Foundation pic

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Foundation

An accomplished entrepreneur, Lew McGinnis has been involved in business for over 55 years. Active in civic organizations, Lew McGinnis has served as a director of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Foundation.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is engaged in numerous projects to conserve pollinator species native to the area. Pollinators support plant pollination, which is essential for the formation of fruits and vegetables. They also maintain biodiversity. The Sonoran Desert is home to numerous springs and other water sources, making it an ideal home for native pollinators such as the monarch butterfly. Unfortunately, climate change and human encroachment are reducing the number of these natural water sources, causing the pollinators to migrate en masse.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is working with professional teams from various organizations to advance pollinator species conservation, and has started a number of projects aimed at improving conservation efforts. These include performing milkweed surveys, collecting seed varieties, improving natural habitats, propagating native plants, monitoring pollinator breeding areas, determining migration patterns, and identifying migration flyways.

Traditional Purebred Poultry – A Vital Aspect of Biodiversity


 Purebred Poultry pic

Purebred Poultry

A respected presence in the Nicholls Hill, Oklahoma, community, Lew McGinnis leads a real estate-focused investment firm. Lew McGinnis comes from an agricultural family and at one point owned North America’s biggest purebred poultry farm.

Traditional purebred chickens are an irreplaceable part of the industry, as they help preserve genetic diversity and could prove critical in ensuring the viability of the poultry industry in the case of livestock disease. Each breed represents a full complement of desirable traits, including longevity, disease resistance, fertility, and foraging ability.

Many purebred chickens have characteristics suited to specific climates and geographical regions, as well. For example, the Ancona, the Leghorn, and other Mediterranean breeds have a reputation for egg laying, while the Canadian Chantecler is ideal for cold climates. For purebred poultry farmers, a key challenge involves ensuring a certain amount of predictability and uniformity while providing for variability that encourages vigor and avoids issues associated with inbreeding.