Community Engagement

Black Institute for Environmental Studies

The Albert J. and Mary Jane Black Institute for Environmental Studies

Building connections between students, community, and the Rio Grande watershed through research, education, and action

Black Institute History

A family dedicated to the Rio Grande Bosque

The Albert J. and Mary Jane Black Institute at Bosque School is a center for bosque education and research. It exists to serve area students, their teachers, and the wider community. It is a hub for student environmental monitoring programs, a center for teacher environmental education training, and a riparian research and demonstration site that serves to educate the wider community about river ecosystems and the watersheds they depend upon.

Albert J. and Mary Jane Black were the official family “ranchers and farmers” of the Seven Bar Ranch which has been owned by the Black Family since 1929. The original Seven Bar Ranch consisted of 20,500 acres of ranch and farmland between the Rio Grande and the Rio Puerco Valley. His agricultural background, along with a strong conservation ethic, led Albert J. Black to be one of the early supporters of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD).

The MRGCD was created in the first half of the 20th century for the reclamation and river protection of the lands of the Middle Rio Grande Valley. After World War II, Albert J. and Mary Jane Black built the Seven Bar Flying Service at Alameda Airport. Albert J. and Mary Jane’s son Rolfe Black, and Rolfe’s son, Wade Black still own and operate Seven Bar Aviation, although it was moved to the Albuquerque International Airport in 1986. The original airport site is now the location of Cottonwood Mall, Cottonwood Plaza, and Cottonwood Corners shopping center.

Albert J. Black passed away in 1989 and Mary Jane Black passed away in 1999. Their family and the Seven Bar Foundation made this gift to create the Albert J. and Mary Jane Black Institute at Bosque School. The family’s intention is to honor Albert J. and Mary Jane, who cared deeply for the bosque and New Mexico. This institute is a tribute to their love for this precious land and their commitment to the preservation and conservation of the bosque.