On Saturday, the Desert Institute’s spring-2014 season of field classes came to a close with a great season finale.
Ted Reeves’ geology field class was held over Mother’s Day weekend. Exploring the fault lines in and around Joshua Tree National Park was an adventure, but it was made special by a unique group of all-women students. There was even a mother-daughter pair among the eight women who participated and volunteered in the class.
This was a successful and fun spring at the Desert Institute. Over 463 students joined us to learn about the park, and we provided 503 hours of classes about the desert. For the first time, we also had three citizen science classes and a women’s “Get-Away” weekend.
We not only covered many miles in Joshua Tree National Park, but on numerous occasions, we also ventured outside the park borders to understand the world around Joshua Tree. This included trips to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, the Mojave National Preserve, a Joshua tree research site in Nevada, intaglios in Blythe and Needles, and rock art sites in the Coachella Valley.
Throughout the season, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers, all of our classes went off safely. There were a few memorable run-ins with a cholla cactus, but at the end of the day, our volunteers always ensured a safe and fun learning environment. They make the outdoor classroom safe, and we could not run such high quality programs without them.
Always, at the end of the season, there is much to reflect on and even more to look forward to. We are going to be working over the summer break to bring you a great lineup of fall courses.
Many year-round favorites are staying on the schedule, and some old favorites are returning. Look for our desert snakes class, the return of family classes, and, if you missed last year’s campfire cuisine, there will be a chance to go gourmet again in the fall.
We are also introducing six new courses, several new instructors, and classes over the holidays. In the arts, there will be two new writing classes and a brand new iPhone photography course. If your are looking forward to new science classes, we are offering a lichen field class for the first time, and we will be joining other 21st century naturalists with a course using iNaturalist.
Stay cool this summer, and stay tuned for more news about fall courses. We enjoyed spending the spring with you, and we look forward to seeing you in the fall.