Choosing a Field Class

The Desert Institute offers classes for adult learners in cultural history, natural science, survival skills, desert naturalist studies, citizen science, and creative arts. All programs are taught by expert instructors who provide a personal and fun learning experience on these educational adventures.

Click on the classes below to learn more. Register soon, as class sizes are limited!


Women’s Classes

The Rough N’ Ready Girl’s Desert Camping Weekend 
April 18-19, 2015 - Rebecca Lowry, Artist, Instructor

Women’s “Get Away” Weekend
April 25 – 26, 2015 - Caryn Davidson, Yoga Instructor & Laurie Green, Certified Interpretive Guide

Journey to Artistry in Joshua Tree National Park
May, 2, 2015 – Valohna Wynn, Artist, Instructor


Creative Arts

Pine Needle Basketry
February 28 – March 1, 2015 – Kathi Klopfenstein, Artist, Instructor

Fine Art Photography in Joshua Tree National Park
March 6 – 8, 2015 – Ralph Nordstrom, Photographer, Instructor

Joshua Tree Through the Lens*
(Art x485.3, 1 unit)
March 7, 2015 – Craig Fucile, Photography Instructor, UC Riverside, Extension

Desert Haiku Writing in Joshua Tree National Park
March 7, 2015 – Ruth Nolan, Professor of Creative Writing and Deborah P. Kolodji, Moderator of the Southern California Haiku Study Group

Creative SmartPhone Photography in Joshua Tree National Park
March 22, 2015 – Diana Shay Diehl, Photographer, Educator

Desert Experience: Transforming Observation Through Writing
April 4 – 5, 2015 – Rebecca Lowry, Artist, Instructor

Night Sky Photography
April 25 – 26, 2015 – Dennis Mammana, M.S. Astronomy, Sky Photographer, Syndicated Columnist

Watercolor Painting in Joshua Tree National Park
April 26, 2015 – John Scahill, Artist, Instructor

Plein Air Poetry
May 2, 2015 – Jeanette Clough and Jim Natal, Award-winning Poets

David Muench Photography Workshop (just added to the schedule)
May 2, 2015 – David Muench, Master Landscape Photographer

Light & Color:  Oil Painting in Joshua Tree National Park
May 2 – 3, 2015 – Andrew Dickson, MFA, Artist, Instructor

Keys Ranch Night Sky and Light Painting Photography Workshop (full – sign up for the “wait list”)
May 16, 2015 – Don Chambers, Nightscape Photographer, Instructor


Hikes with a Desert Naturalist

Hike to Lost Palms Oasis
February 21, 2015 – Mark Wheeler, Naturalist

Hike to the Hexahedron Mine (from Stirrup Tank)
March 15, 2015 – Mark Wheeler, Naturalist

Queen Mountain: More Than Just The Summit
March 22, 2015 – Mark Wheeler, Naturalist

Wildflower Wanderings
March 29, 2015 – Darrell Shade, Botanist, Desert Naturalist


Natural Science

Rocks and Minerals of Joshua Tree National Park*
(Geosciences x425.1, 1.5 units)
February 27, 2015- March 1, 2015- Robert Pellenbarg, Ph.D, BioChemistry, Professor

Volcanoes in Joshua Tree National Park
March 7, 2015- Richard Hazlett, Ph.D., Geology, Professor, Author

Biological Soil Crusts of JTNP*
(Biology x412.28 1.0 units)
March 14-15, 2015-Nicole Pietrasiak, Ph.D, Kerry Knudsen, curator of the Lichen Herbarium, UCR and Theresa Clark, M.S., P.h.D student, University of Nevada Las Vegas

Flora of Joshua Tree National Park*
(Botany x420.5, 1.5 units)
March 27-29, 2015-Stefanie Ritter, M.S., Zoology, Botany, Mark Wheeler, M.S., Education, Desert Naturalist

Desert Tortoise Surveying & Monitoring
March 21, 2015- Paul Delany, Ph.D., Integrative Biology, Professor; Ed LaRue, M.S., Biologist; Kristin H. Berry, Ph.D., United States Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center

Ecology of Joshua Tree National Park*
(Biology x412.4, 2 units)
April 11-12, 2015-Allan Schoenherr, Ph.D., Ecology, Professor Emeritus

Tracking in Joshua Tree National Park
April 11-12, 2015- Jim Lowery, Primitive Skills Teacher, Author of The Tracker’s Field Guide

Geology of the Mojave National Preserve
April 18-19, 2015- Ted Reeves, Instructor, University of Pacific

Birds of Joshua Tree National Park*
(Biology x404, 1 unit)
April 17-19, 2015-Kurt Leuschner, M.S., Wildlife Ecology

Ecology and Biology of Joshua Trees
April 25, 2015- Chris Clark, Environmental Writer

Desert Night Sky: Planets to Galaxies
May 16, 2015- David Chappell, Ph.D., Astronomy, Professor, University of LaVerne


Cultural History Courses

Rock Art of Southern California
February 22, 2015-Daniel McCarthy, M.S., Anthropology

Intaglios along the Colorado River
March 8, 2015-Daniel McCarthy, M.S., Anthropology

Hike Barker Dam-Wall Street Loop (new date)
March 21, 2015- Chris Metzger, Educator

Native American Plant Uses
March 21, 2015-Daniel McCarthy, M.S., Anthropology

Hike Lost Horse Loop
April 12, 2015-Chris Metzger, Educator


Survival Skills Courses

Navigating with Map & Compass
March 27, 2015-Misha Askren, Sierra Club Outings Leader

Desert Survival
March 29, 2015-Donald Scriven, Interpretive Tour Guide

GPS Navigation Techniques
April 18-19, 2015-David Pylman, Joshua Tree Search and Rescue

Tracking in Joshua Tree National Park
April 11-12, 2015-Jim Lowery, Primitive Skills Teacher, Author of The Tracker’s Field Guide


Citizen Science Programs

Introduction to the iNaturalist App
March 15, 2015 – Sara Everett, Desert Institute Naturalist Program Manager and Lindsey Willrick, Wildlife Biologist and Botanist

iNaturalist: Weekend Naturalist Workshop in Joshua Tree National Park
March 21-22, 2015-Russell Di Fiori, Professor of Biology, Pasadena City College









Credit is available from University of California, Riverside Extension. Optional credit courses are marked by the symbol *. The number of units are listed with each class. Credit fees are listed separately from noncredit fees.