Desert Institute Instructors
|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.|
|KRISTEN H. BERRY, Ph.D. is Supervisory Research Wildlife Biologist at the Western Ecological Research Center of the United States Geological Survey, and current board member of the Desert Tortoise Council. Dr. Berry has published over fifty scientific journal articles about desert tortoises, as well as numerous technical reports, magazine articles and books She has organized and instructed a great variety of scientific symposia and workshops, and made research presentations to many different professional groups such as the Desert Tortoise Council.|
|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.
|DAVID CHAPPELL, Ph.D., Astronomy, Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy, University of La Verne, has taught astronomy and physics for eleven years. Chappell’s research interests include star formation, galaxy evolution, and computational astrophysics. His interest in archaeo-astronomy has led him to study in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, the Shetland Islands, and the Kingdom of Tonga.|
|THERESA CLARK, M.S. Ph.D. Student, University of Nevada, Las Vegas is an ecologist and bryologist from the back woods of Maine. However, she migrated westward for graduate studies at Northern Arizona University and specialized in the taxonomy and ecology of mosses in the arid Southwest; she discovered 25 species new to the state of Arizona while completing her master’s research in Grand Canyon National Park|
|CHRIS CLARKE is a natural history and environmental writer, an editor and photographer. It was in the mid-1990s that Chris’ fondness for the desert southwest, nascent since he first visited as an adult in the early 80s, blossomed into an obsession. He’s traveled extensively in the Mojave, Great Basin and Sonoran deserts, as well as in the steppes and slickrock country of the Colorado Plateau. Chris currently writes for KCET and the Beaconreader.com. He is working on a book on Joshua trees, which will be based on over a decade of research.|
|JEANETTE CLOUGH’S collection, Flourish, was published in 2014 by Tebot Bach. She is also author of Island (Red Hen Press) and Cantatas (Tebot Bach), both of which include poems emeging from time spent in and around Joshua Tree National Park. Her poetry appears in the Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Atlanta Review, Pool, and other journals and anthologies. Clough is an art researcher, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and in 2012 she was Artist in Residence at JTNP.
|CARYN DAVIDSON completed her yoga teacher training at the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, CA. The philosophy of White Lotus is to draw from the deep traditions of yoga while remaining non-dogmatic and open to the influences of the different contexts in which yoga is practiced. Caryn is also an NPS Ranger at Joshua Tree National Park.|
|PAUL DELANEY, Ph.D. is a tenured professor of biology at Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree. He is the USFWS-authorized tortoise biologist for the CMC translocation area, and has been monitoring the tortoise population at the 85 acre preserve on campus since 2007. A field biologist since 1977, Delaney has conducted zoological research in California, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and published over two dozen scientific papers.|
|ANDREW DICKSON, M.F.A., has taught drawing and painting at California State University, Long Beach and Huntington University in Indiana. Andrew currently works as an Associate Professor of Foundation Painting at California State University, Fullerton. He has also served as a CSU Summer Arts Course Coordinator for six years and currently coordinates the Summer Art’s Drawing and Painting courses in Florence, Italy. In his teaching, Andrew is committed to providing a fundamental understanding of the concepts, materials, and methods of painting with an emphasis on clear visual perception.|
|RUSSELL DiFIORI is a Naturalist and professor of Biology at Pasadena City College who has taken his passion for being outside to developing cutting edge interdisciplinary field programs in the Baja Science Program, the Steinbeck Program and many other field courses as well as running Chautauqua’s for the National Science Foundation to train teachers from all levels to do curriculum development with field projects and inquiry based learning. Russ’ most recent projects include developing a hybrid field science program integrating the best of online learning and citizen science, like the iNaturalist project, with solid base in traditional field skills. Russ is also an instructor for the California Naturalist Certification in partnership with the University of California.|
|SARA EVERETT is an iNaturalist enthusiast who lives in San Diego and is a former Mission Continues Fellow at the Joshua Tree National Park Association. A five-year Navy veteran, she found iNaturalist shortly after leaving the service and used it to explore Joshua Tree. Through iNaturalist and its community of citizen scientists, she discovered a passion for desert biology.
|CRAIG FUCILLE, B.A., Physical Geography, teaches photography for University of California, Riverside Extension. A long time 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, 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. Also, she is a hike leader and works with the Desert Institute and National Forest Association.|
|RICHARD HAZLETT, Ph.D., Geology, has traveled extensively doing research in Central America, Hawaii, the Aleutian Islands, New Zealand, South Africa, and Mongolia. He has mapped and studied volcanic rocks throughout the eastern Mojave Desert, and participated in the field study leading to establishment of the Turtle Mountains Wilderness Area near Parker, on the Colorado River. He is the co-author with D.D. Trent of Joshua Tree National Park Geology, and with Jane Nielsen and Howard Wilshire of The American West at Risk: Science, Myths, and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery.
|KATHI KLOPFENSTEIN has been making pine needle baskets for 20 years. Her pine needle basketry has won awards at the San Bernardino County Fair, Del Mar Fair, and California State Fair and has been exhibited at numerous venues in southern California. Kathi is a member of Chaparral Artists, Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, Misti Washington Gourd and Basket Guild, Los Angeles Basketry Guild, Bay Area Basketmakers, and Columbia Basin Basketry Guild.|
|KERRY KNUDSEN is a mycologist and lichenologist. He is the curator of the Lichen Herbarium at the UCR Herbarium. He is a taxonomist, a world expert in Acarosporaceae, who has described over 50 species, a majority from California. He is a floristic specialist in the lichen biota of southern California and the Channel Islands. He has published over 170 papers on lichens and related fungi. He recently completed an extensive inventory of Joshua Tree National Park, comprising 239 sites and 1954 specimens, reporting over 145 taxa, including 6 new to science. From the biotic soil crusts of Joshua Tree he recently described with Jana Kocourkova and Bruce McCune a new species, Sarcogyne mitziae.|
|DEBORAH P. KOLODJI, M.F.A., is primarily interested in short poetry forms. A member of the Haiku Society of America, the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and the Southern California Haiku Study group, her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Eclectrica, Ginbender Poetry Review, and many other places. More of her writing can be seen at www.kolodji.com|
|EDWARD LARUE, JR., M.S. specializes in California desert biota as field investigator and scientist for Circle Mountain Biological Consultants, Inc. In 2005 he authored the Copper Mountain College Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), and in 2008. He implemented the federal and state permits for the HCP. In 2007 he organized and coordinated a multi-agency effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), California Department of Fish and Game, National Park Service (JTNP), BLM and San Bernardino County to establish a tortoise conservation area in the Morongo Basin. LaRue has received numerous awards for his conservation work with desert tortoises.|
|KURT LEUSCHNER, M.S., Wildlife Ecology, is a Professor of Natural Resources at 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.|
|JIM LOWERY is a nationally known tracker and author of The Tracker’s Field Guide. He has taught tracking to thousands of students, including many special trainings for field biologists, universities, naturalists, and park rangers. Some of his specialized field workshops have focused on tracking individual species including bighorn sheep, badgers, mountain lions, elk and black bears. www.earthskills.com|
|REBECCA LOWRY is an artist and educator based in Los Angeles. She holds degrees in literature, art history and architecture from Boston University and Harvard. She has both a studio and public art practice and taught at both Cal Poly, Pomona and USC. Much of her work focuses on looking at the familiar from new points of view, often using text, maps and handcrafts. Having explored the “great outdoors” since childhood, Bex loves to pursue new understandings of natural spaces: she find there is no better studio or classroom.|
|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. Mammana photographs the heavens from around the world, but mostly from his desert home in Borrego Springs.www.dennismammana.com|
|DANIEL MC CARTHY, 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.|
|CHRIS METZGER, M.A., Chris is a retired educator with 32 years experience. Since moving to the Morrogo Basin 10 years ago, he has carried on a personal study of the characters that make up it’s past. Some can be called famous, some infamous. Either way they lend to a fascinating story. Chris has hiked extensively through JTNP and knows it well. Camping under our stars is his idea of “a night out.”|
|DAVID MUENCH has photographed the landscape in all its grandeur for half a century. Traveling the U.S. since early childhood with his father, renown photographer Josef Muench, there was never another way of life for him. His 4 x 5 large format camera is as much a part of him as his innovative eye. He has lately been experimenting with digital cameras as a result of his work photographing World Heritage Sites for UNESCO and Panasonic. For him, every photograph is a journey in perception, an exploration in seeing. www.muenchphotography.com|
|JIM NATAL is the Pushcart Prize-nominated author of 52 Views: The Haibun Variations, Memory and Rain, and two previous poetry collections. His work has appeared in many journals and anthologies. The co-founder of indie publisher Conflux Press, he directs The Literary Southwest series at Yavapai College in Prescott, AZ.|
|RUTH NOLAN is a professor of creative writing and a scholar of desert literature at College of the Desert. She is a widely-published poet, writer and editor of “No Place for a Puritan: the literature of California’s deserts”. Her haiku poetry has appeared in the Southern California Haiku Anthology each year from 2010-2013.|
|RALPH NORDSTROM’s philosophy on photographic 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. www.ralphnordstromphotography.com|
|ROBERT PELLENBARG, Ph.D., Professor of Geology, College of the Desert, Palm Desert, CA. Dr. Pellenbarg spent twenty five years as a research chemist with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He currently teaches Earth Sciences, Geology, Chemistry and Oceanography at the College of the Desert.|
|NICOLE PIETRASIAK received her Ph.D. in the Soil and Water Program at UC Riverside. Currently she is a post-doctoral fellow at John Carroll University, Ohio. Her research interests include soil science, botany, algal biodiversity, and desert ecology. Ms. Pietrasiak has conducted extensive research on cryptobiotic crusts across the western U.S. and has made major contributions to the study of abundance, distribution, and diversity of cryptobiotic crusts at Joshua Tree National Park.|
|DAVID PYLMAN has been teaching Map and Compass Navigation, GPS Navigation, and Desert Survival for the Joshua Tree Search and Rescue and Southeastern California Search and Rescue Council since 2000. He is an avid hiker, backpacker, skier, and rock climber.|
|TED REEVES, B.A., Biology, Ted Reeves taught science at Chaffey High School in Ontario, CA for 37 years. He has led field trips in Southern California, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Tetons, Grand Canyon and Hawaii. He is presently teaching for University of the Pacific and believes that a relevant Natural History class requires an outdoor experience.|
|STEPHANIE RITTER, M. S. Zoology, Botany, and Genetics, has taught Biology at Copper Mountain College and presently holds the position of Museum Coordinator for the Hi-Desert Nature Museum in Yucca Valley. She is responsible for all educational programs. Ritter has also taught geography, ecology, and botany for National University at the Twentynine Palms 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 his private pilot’s license in high school with a desire to fly the rest of his life. That changed after six years in the United States Marine Corps. Once off active duty 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.|
|ALLAN SCHOENHERR, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Ecology, Fullerton College, is an expert on California flora and fauna, as exemplified by two major books he has authored, A Natural History of California and A Natural History of the Islands of California. Schoenherr has been doing research, traveling, and photographing the southwestern desert for many years. In addition to teaching ecology at several universities, he has led many field courses throughout the deserts of California.
|DONALD SCRIVEN currently is an interpretive guide and desert naturalist working towards a degree in Natural Resources. Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, he enjoys the great outdoors of this beautiful yet harsh environment, year round. He also appreciates how unforgiving it can be to anyone lost, stuck, or just broken down along the side of the road.|
|DARRELL SHADE is a retired high school teacher and recognized botanist/desert naturalist for Joshua Tree National Park. Shade has a deep love for the desert and its enormous variety of plant and animal life as well as being a master teacher. He has worked closely with Joshua Tree National Park botanists over the last 20 years and keeps up on all the new floral discoveries being made in the park.|
|DIANA SHAY DIEHL, M.Ed., has over 25 years of teaching experience from kindergarten to graduate level college courses. Her love of using photography to capture the nuances of life has been a life-long venture beginning with formal training in black and white film processing under the tutelage of Andrew Shumaker, a photographer and former student of Ansel Adams. Her training continued with various UCR extension classes and numerous workshops held locally and throughout the country. She prefers getting intimate with her subject in the natural or industrial worlds – especially in our magical mojave light; bringing into focus those everyday things that tend to be overlooked and unseen. www.dianasd4.wix.com/mojave-light-images|
|MARK WHEELER has an M.S. in Education and a journeyman’s degree in natural history, having spent most of thirty years hiking and studying the mountain and desert landscapes of the west coast. Wheeler has worked extensively with wilderness-adventure programming groups such as Outward Bound, training both students and instructors in wilderness travel skills and group dynamics. A working writer, he has focused on subjects about the natural world.|
|LINDSEY WILLRICK is a wildlife biologist and botanist who is currently working at a San Diego environmental consulting firm, ICF International. She has a B.S. degree in botany with specializations in environmental science and ecology from Arizona State University and has been working with the flora and fauna of Southern California for seven years.|
|VALOHNA WYNN is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles. Her artistic and creative expression has always been at the core of who she is. Valohna has been drawn in to inventive ways to empower people, whether it be facilitating women’s groups, heading up community-based art projects or doing the unexpected. Her goal has been to invite people to think differently about themselves and their creative abilities. She currently resides in the Southern California desert and facilitates workshops at “Soul Space” in Palm Desert, CA.|