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.|
|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.|
|CAMERON BARROWS Ph.D., is currently an Assistant Research Ecologist coordinating desert research initiatives for the University of California, Riverside’s Center for Conservation Biology. The focus of his research ranges from the sensitivity of desert plants and animals to predicted levels of climate change.
|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.
|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.
|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.|
|JOHN HALE Ph.D., History, is an archeologist with the Marine Corps at Twentynine Palms, where he works in the Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Division. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside, and a Master’s degree in Archeology from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. John is also a professor of history at Copper Mountain College.
|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.
|James Heintz is the Climate Change and Botany & Research lead for Joshua Tree National Park managing species in Transition Zones in a large scale climate change project still in its early stages. The project is in partnership with National Park Service, University of California Riverside, The Wildlands Conservancy and The Mojave Desert Land Trust. James works with Cameron Barrows of the Center for Conservation Biology on climate change in Joshua Tree National Park.|
|TANYA JENKINS shares her passion for wild edible and medicinal plants through teaching classes offered by Earth Skills outdoor school. Tanya became captivated by plants when she heard during a radio interview that a common weed, the dandelion, was completely edible. To her, it was a revolutionary idea and she followed her curiosity to learn more. She loves leading people through a similar eye-opening journey by demonstrating ways to use common plants from the Southern California landscape for edible and medicinal purposes, including traditional skills for using native plants.|
|LEW KINGMAN is a retired fire fighter and worked for the Palm Springs Desert Museum as a hike leader for 8 years. He volunteers with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue for 25 years and Joshua Tree National Park as an archaeological site steward and a “lead” field representative for the Desert Institute.|
|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 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.|
|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|
|MICHAEL MOURA has been an avid backpacker, hiker, and camp food enthusiast since he was young. Cooking food outdoors was always a passion of his and he went on to become the assistant head cook for a summer camp in the southern Sierra’s for three years, where he created meals from scratch and brought his love of cooking to campers of all ages. His enthusiasm for cooking didn’t stop there, as an avid backpacker and car-camper he strives to bring gourmet cooking to the great outdoors where he believes that with a little ingenuity, fresh gourmet food can be made without all of life’s modern kitchen conveniences.
|RUTH NOLAN, M.F.A., is Professor of Creative Writing and Desert Literature at College of the Desert and a lifelong resident of the California and Arizona deserts. She writes poetry and feature articles focused on the desert for KCET Los Angeles, the Sierra Club Desert Report, and Heyday Books. Her poetry has appeared recently in Rattling Wall, Tin Cannon, and Writers at Work, L.A. She is editor of No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California’s Deserts, (Heyday Books, 2009) and lectures widely on desert literature and conservation issues. She has taught writing workshops in the past decade in remote desert locations such as Desert Studies Center, Indian Canyons, the Salton Sea, Death Valley National Park and Joshua Tree National Park. She is writing a memoir of her time spent as a wildland firefighter in the Mojave Desert and western U.S. for the BLM and USFS in the 1980’s.|
|RALPH NORDSTROM has had several careers in education, along the way teaching the full gambit 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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|DONALD SCRIVEN 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.|
|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.|
|MICHAEL VAMSTAD has been working at Joshua Tree National Park since 2004. He started working for the park as the restoration ecologist and made the move to wildlife ecologist in 2007. Michael received his undergraduate degree in field biology and for eight years worked on many bird research projects in California, Arizona, Rhode Island, Guam and Baja California, Mexico. While working for Joshua Tree National Park, he attended graduate school at the University of California – Riverside. In 2009, Michael received his Masters in Ecology by completing a thesis on small mammal and vegetation responses from wildfire.
|MARK WHEELER has a M.S. in Education and a journeyman’s degree in natural history, having spent most of forty years hiking and studying the mountain and desert landscapes of the west coast. Mr. 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.|
|ELIZABETH WYATT, writer, artist, and educator holds a B.A. in English from Southern Methodist University, and Master of Fine Arts and Master of Arts degrees in poetry and English from the University of California at Irvine. She has practiced yoga since 2003 and currently teaches yoga in the hi-desert, in addition to serving as English instructor and Basic Skills Coordinator at Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree.|
|VALOHNA WYNN is a graduate of 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 into ….THE PROCESS OF CREATING…inventive ways to empower people. 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.|