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Exploring Nature through Education

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park is an adult education program offering an in-depth exploration of the park’s natural wonders. Learn from highly qualified instructors who are passionate about sharing their expertise, and committed to providing a personal and fun learning experience. The Desert Institute is sponsored by the Joshua Tree National Park Association, and operates with the full endorsement of the National Park Service. Join us this season for an educational adventure.

Field Classes

The Desert Institute offers outdoor field classes for adult learners in cultural history, natural science, survival skills, desert naturalist studies, citizen science, and creative arts. The Desert Institute also offers half day courses for children from 8-13 years and their parents.  Enrollment is open to all, and some courses may be taken for optional university credit. All field programs follow “Leave No Trace” principles to minimize impact on the desert environment, and where necessary, obtain special permits to access certain aspects of Joshua Tree National Park that would otherwise be restricted. Weekend courses ranging from one to three days are scheduled over two class semesters, Fall and Spring. Discounts are available for members of the Joshua Tree National Park Association and Partners in Nature Education.

In order to improve our educational programming, please complete our Field Course Evaluation.

Custom Programs

Whatever you interest in Joshua Tree National Park, we can design a custom educational program to be a perfect fit for you or your group. Click on the sidebar for program ideas, or contact the Desert Institute for more information.

Step-On Guides for Bus Tours

The Desert Institute can arrange for a professional, knowledgeable naturalist to join your bus tour of the Joshua Tree National Park.  Please see our webpage on Step-On Guides.

Community Lectures

While we’d love to see you in the park, the Desert Institute also sponsors public lectures throughout the Morongo Basin and Coachella Valley in cooperation with various  community partners. These educational series take place in Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms, and are often free!

Military Scholarships

The Desert Institute, with support from the Walmart Foundation and the Officers’ Spouses” Club of the Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Center in 29 Palms, offers scholarships for military personnel and their spouses to attend field classes. To apply, please download the application.