Meet Your Neighbor: Susan Aufheimer retires in Scottsdale

Susan Aufheimer (submitted photo)

Name: Susan Aufheimer

Where I live: Scottsdale

When & why I moved here: The first time I lived in Arizona, I moved to Ahwatukee in 1993, where I fell in love with the desert because I lived next to South Mountain. I found it magical, and it broke my heart to move away after only 18 months. My husband Ralph and I vowed we’d come back one day. That day arrived November 2009 when we moved to Scottsdale, just a stone’s throw from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, where my heart really resides.

What I like most about living here: The wildness of north Scottsdale with its many natural area open spaces and all the animals that they attract. While we are so close to Scottsdale amenities, we feel as if we’re living close to nature.

Activities I enjoy: Hiking in the Preserve!

Clubs/organizations I’m involved in: Since 2010, I’ve been a volunteer for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy where most of my hours are spent working as a citizen scientist with the Field Institute, the scientific research arm of the Conservancy. I’ve collected arthropods (bugs), identified and counted amphibians, butterflies, birds, and humanely trapped (and released) small mammals for the purpose of identifying species throughout the Preserve.

I have also been president of my homeowners association for several years, sometimes a more hair-raising endeavor than working in the wilds of the Sonoran Desert.

My favorite charity or volunteer activity and why it deserves support from others? I want to name three. Of course, I want everyone to support the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy because it does the enormous job of educating the public about the desert, conducts scientific research and maintains the 30,000+ acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the jewel in Scottsdale’s crown.

I would also ask people to support Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, which rescues and rehabilitates desert wildlife and also acts as a holding facility for the endangered Mexican grey wolf. And last but not least, I encourage people to support the Scottsdale police force, an incredibly dedicated legion of men and women who risk their lives daily to protect us in so many ways.

My No. 1 suggestion to new residents looking for ways to get involved in their community: Look for ways to volunteer your time by checking out the City of Scottsdale’s citywide volunteer programs that include a surprising number of opportunities from volunteering as a city ambassador to helping the police and fire departments. Sign up for the Citizen’s Police Academy, an eight-week program that exposes you to every aspect of police work, from cybersecurity to police-dog training to SWAT robotics to victim’s counselling, and more—it will blow your mind; it did mine!

What one thing would you like to see changed in Scottsdale? I would appreciate seeing less development because I’m concerned about its impact on our infrastructure, water resources, and native plants and animals.

My family: My husband Ralph and our kitty Winston.

What I do: I am a retired book editor.

People who are an inspiration to me: My husband and all my friends, who lift my spirit and do good works.

My advice to today’s youth: Get out and explore nature!

To volunteer in the city of Scottsdale visit

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