Desert Institute Instructors
|CYNTHIA ANDERSON has a BA in Marine Mammal Biology form UC Santa Cruz and an MS in Natural Resources/Wildlife Biology from Humboldt State University and she has been working as a field biologist and environmental educator for more than 30 years. Her teaching experience includes students from a wide variety of ages and diverse backgrounds, from K-12 graders, community college students and CA Conservation Corps crew members. Cynthia is currently an NPS Ranger at Joshua Tree National Park.|
|MISHA ASKREN is an outings leader for the Sierra Club and is an instructor in the Wilderness Travel Course. He leads trips that are “off-trail” in the wilderness in the Sierras, the San Gabriels and in Joshua Tree.|
|DON CHAMBERS has been hiking, climbing and taking pictures in Joshua Tree and throughout the west for 45 years. His early interest in the outdoors led him to an MS in Geography. He was a naturalist in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest for the USFS, taught geology of the National Parks at Valley College and Cal Poly, and for the last 36 years has been the manager of consulting services at ESRI.|
|JIM CORNETT received B.A. and M.S. degrees in biology. He is the former curator of natural history for the Palm Springs Desert Museum. He has published over 150 scientific and popular articles, as well as over twenty books on a variety of desert subjects. He is the author of Desert Palm Oasis, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Desert Snakes, and Desert Lizards, among other books, published by Nature Trails Press.
|CASSANDRA DAVIS is a certified Hatha instructor. Having practiced and studied for several years, including time in India as well as Peru, she has extensive experience in a wide variety of yoga styles. As a certified personal trainer working towards a PhD in Holistic nutrition, she has a well-rounded knowledge of physiology and yoga philosophy.
|CHRISTIAN DELICH is a National Park Service Ranger who spends his “off time” crawling around the famed Wonderland of Rocks while honing skills as an amateur geologist.
|CRAIG FUCILE, B.A., Physical Geography, teaches photography for University of California, Riverside Extension. A longtime instructor, Fucile has taught numerous photography workshops in western landscapes that he enjoys photographing including: Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Eastern Mojave, Owens Valley, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Anza-Borrego, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia. He received the Fall 2010 Instructor Excellence Award from UC Riverside Extension and the 2007 Distinguished Instructor Award from UC Irvine Extension.|
|LAURIE GREEN is a certified interpretive guide through the National Association of Interpreters and a paramedic and NOLS wilderness EMT. She has been an instructor for seven years, teaching life saving techniques to the public and professionals. Laurie is also a hike leader and works with the Desert Institute and National Forest Association.|
|WILLIAM HAYES, PhD, Zoology and Physiology, Professor of Biology, Loma Linda University. Hayes specializes in the ecology of venoms and venomous animals, behavioral ecology and conservation of lizards, and behavioral ecology, taxonomy, and conservation of birds. He has published numerous works, taught and organized conferences and workshops, and has given multiple television contributions. Hayes currently teaches classes in behavioral ecology, herpetology, ornithology, and conservation.
|MARK JORGENSEN has been intrigued by desert bighorn sheep since he was 11 years old and has spent five decades studying and pursuing them throughout their range. He became a State Park Ranger for California State Parks after four summers studying desert bighorn for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southern California. He went on to become the last Park Naturalist for California State Parks at Anza-Borrego, as well as a Resource Ecologist, and he finished his 36-year park career as the Superintendent of Anza-Borrego. He is the author of the book “Desert Bighorn Sheep: Wilderness Icon”.|
|DE KARLEN is a naturalist, hiking and desert guide with Desert Adventures. Previously, she worked as an Interpretive Park Ranger in Yosemite National Park so she truly enjoys sharing her knowledge about the wonders and processes of our natural world.|
|TOR LACY, M.S., Geology, is a tenured instructor at Cerritos College teaching Physical Geology, Introduction to Earth Science, Geology of the Western National Parks and Monuments, Natural History of Southern California and Field Methods of the Earth Sciences.|
|KURT LEUSCHNER, M.S., Wildlife Ecology, Professor of Natural Resources, College of the Desert. Leuschner’s specialties include ornithology, entomology, and desert ecology. He has led hundreds of field trips both locally and as far afield as Africa. He teaches natural history courses for the Bureau of Land Management, UCR Extension, the Desert Institute, the Living Desert, California State Parks, Riverside County Parks, and many other conservation organizations
|REBECCA LOWRY, trained as an architect, has been pursuing an independent fine art practice since 2003. A native of Northern California, Rebecca lived nearly a decade in Boston, Massachusetts, where she earned degrees at Boston University and Harvard’s Design School. While living in Zurich, Switzerland, time spent working at the firm of Herzog & de Meuron strongly influenced her engagement in visual art. She now makes her home in Los Angeles. Her work has been shown throughout Los Angeles and abroad. Rebecca teaches periodically on art and architecture at a variety of Southern California institutions.|
|DIANE McCLARY graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington with a major in teaching and art and studied with the well-known impressionist artist Sergei Bongart. Her paintings are distinguished by her unique use of color. She has taught workshops nationally, in Washington, California, and Florida, as well as demonstrated for various art groups. She has had solo shows in the Northwest and has exhibited at the Frye Art Museum and the Clymer Museum in Washington, as well as in Palm Desert, California. Her studio and gallery is located in La Quinta, California.|
|DANIEL McCARTHY, M.S., Anthropology, has worked at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and throughout Southern California compiling photographic inventories of the rock art of this region. He is the Director of the Cultural Resources Management Department with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. His research interests include desert archaeology, aboriginal trail systems, and rock art.|
|DENNIS MAMMANA, M.S., Astronomy, has delivered the wonder and mystery of the cosmos to audiences for over three decades. A nationally syndicated newspaper columnist with Creators Syndicate and author of six books on popular astronomy, Mammana is also an accomplished night sky photographer and invited member of TWAN—an international team of the most highly acclaimed sky photographers on the planet.|
|RALPH NORDSTROM has had several careers in education, along the way teaching the full gamut from pre-school to adult, and handicapped to gifted. Branching into photographic workshops was a very natural path for him. His philosophy on workshops is simple: They are successful when the attendees return home with a few great photographs and feeling that they have expanded what he likes to call their “Creative Vocabulary”, that is, their ability to express themselves through their photography.
|TANYA PETROVNA was the visionary founder, chef, CEO of the all plant-based eatery, Native Foods Café. It all began in Palm Springs, California in 1994 and though she has not been with her company since 2012, her loyal patrons still stay in touch, visit her classes and follow her adventures! Chef Tanya currently resides in Palm Springs, California where she teaches Iyengar yoga, writes, saves cats, dogs and elephants, and is working on the next big thing.|
|KEVIN POWELL was intrigued at an early age by the quiet complexity of this desert playground. Local author and photographer, Kevin Powell has spent forty four years hiking, rock climbing, photographing and exploring within Joshua Tree National Park. His first book, Classic Day Hikes of Joshua Tree Park will be available this fall.|
|TED REEVES, B.A., Geology, taught sciences at Chaffey High School for 37 years. He is presently teaching for University of the Pacific and believes that a relevant Natural History class requires an outdoor experience. In 2000, he received the National Association of Geology Teachers Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award.|
|STEFANIE RITTER was awarded an M. S. degree from the Technical University in Braunschweig, Germany, specializing in zoology, botany, and genetics. She has taught Biology at Copper Mountain College and presently holds the position of Museum Coordinator for the Hi-Desert Nature Museum where she is responsible for all educational programs. Ritter has also taught geography, ecology, and botany for National University at the Twentynine Palm Campus.|
|JOHN SCAHILL, M.F.A., Illustration. Art has always had a great influence on John’s life. He draws, paints, and creates any chance he gets. John earned a BFA with honors in illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After a brief stay at Norton Simon museum John gave teaching a try in a private art studio. He fell in love with it and has taught Beginning Drawing, Watercolor/ Mixed Media, and Painting 1 & 2 at Mount San Jacinto College. As a freelance illustrator the artist has earned an MFA through the Academy of Art in San Francisco.|
||DIANA SHAY-DIEHL, M.Ed., has over 25 years of teaching experience from kindergarten to graduate level college education courses. Her love of using photography to capture the nuances of life has been a life-long adventure beginning with formal training in black and white film processing and continuing into digital work that uses alternative printing methods, such as cyanotypes, platinum, palladium, and digital film negative and polaroid transfers, all learned and practiced in Italy, all over California, and the Pacific Northwest.|
|JIM SMART developed an interest in photography some fifty years ago when he took a high school course and made a pinhole camera, shot with a Speed Graflex, and took surfing photographs in Hermosa Beach with a 35mm Pentax. Jim teaches university courses in Communication Studies and English, including basic and college-level English courses, journalism, journalistic photography and online journalism. www.jimsmartphotography.com|
|JASON THEUER, Ph.D., Anthropology, is the Cultural Resources Chief at Joshua Tree National Park. He attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology with a specialization in Archaeology. He has worked for the National Park Service in a variety of researcher, seasonal, temporary, and term positions since 2002 at Petrified Forest National Park, El Malpais National Monument, El Moro National Monument, and the Northeast Regional Archeology Program.|
|CANDICE WEBER, M.A., is an adjunct professor of natural resources at College of the Desert, teaching courses in Conservation and G.I.S. and leading students abroad to the cloud forests of Costa Rica. She majored in environmental studies and has extensive experience working with animals of all kinds (wild and domestic), including many years as a zookeeper and animal trainer at the Living Desert, the Long Beach Aquarium, and other marine parks. For the past 14 years she has resided in the Coachella Valley and now considers the desert her home.|