Mount Scorpion officially named for Nevada State College mascot

The process of getting a geographic feature named can be long and arduous, but officials from Nevada State College managed to get the official designation for Mount Scorpion in about a year. The school celebrated the official naming Oct. 24 with a hike up the peak near the campus in Henderson.

The school at 1125 Nevada State Drive has been around for 12 years, but it has already developed some traditions, one of which was a hike up the peak that the students have been calling Mount Scorpion — named for the school’s mascot — since 2007. The mountain is a single peak in the range south of the school. The effort to have it officially named Mount Scorpion began in 2012 with a presentation to the Board of Regents by then newly appointed president Bart Patterson, who is an avid hiker.

When Amey Esparza came to the college as a program coordinator for the Office of Community Engagement & Diversity Initiatives, looking into making the name official was one of the tasks she was assigned.

“I didn’t realize how complicated the process was,” Esparza said. “I worked with the congressional offices here and with local government entities to provide letters of support for the official naming of the mountain.”

The young school has continued to expand, adding two new 60,000-square-foot buildings to accommodate its growing enrollment. A statue of the the namesake animal was recently installed at the school.

Yanne Givens, a communications specialist at the college, said there were no reports of actual scorpion sightings on the hike, but she knew of at least two that were found at the school over the years. Both were captured and delivered to a teacher who kept an aquarium with several of the creatures in his classroom.

“The celebratory hike was a great success, drawing about 100 students, faculty and community members to the send off,” Givens said. “About 20 hikers made their way to the peak.”

Scorpions are arachnids, the same classification as spiders. They can lash out with a venomous stinger on their tail. The sting of local varieties of scorpions aren’t deadly but can be very painful. A common myth claims that the sting of smaller scorpions is the most painful and deadly. This is not the case.

The mountain is named for the school’s mascot, but how did the school choose the mascot? According to Andy Kuniyuki, dean of the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences, it was the other way around.

“The college started in a former vitamin factory, in the building we call Dawson building,” Kuniyuki said. “It was the only building in that part of the desert, and when we went into that building, we were greeted by scorpions. They claimed us, we didn’t claim them.”

When the new buildings opened on campus recently, it wasn’t long before Kuniyuki got a call that there was a scorpion in a third-floor office. He said he tries to catch them and add them to the collection in the terrarium in his classroom. He’s tried to get the grounds staff to follow that policy also, telling them that the scorpions are the school’s pets and they shouldn’t be killed.

“Most of what we find are the little bark scorpions, which are tiny, but we have an example of the largest type of scorpion found in North America, a hadrurus arizonensis (giant desert hairy scorpion),” Kuniyuki said. “They can grow 5 to 7 inches. We found one of those out here.”

Kuniyuki’s terrarium has a switch to turn off the white light and turn on a blacklight so people can see one of the stranger aspects of scorpions — they fluoresce.

These days, Kuniyuki said they still find scorpions on campus, but it’s nothing like the numbers they found in the early days.

“We used to find dozens,” he said. “But when most people see dozens of scorpions, they look like hundreds.”

— To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email or call 702-380-4532.

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