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Board of Directors


About Us

Cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) building a nest

Cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) building a nest | Photo by NPS | Public Domain | Source

Executive Board

Kerry Puckett

Kerry Puckett

President


A North Carolina native, Kerry Puckett developed a passion for the natural world while attending college in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Interested in experiencing the landscape of the western US, he moved to Utah in 2009, where he worked as a ski and mountain bike patroller at Deer Valley Resort. While in Utah, he began a 2nd career as an architectural and interior photographer on top of his ongoing involvement with Deer Valley’s ski patrol. A visit to Palm Springs in late 2014 led to his current involvement with The Wildlands Conservancy. Coming onboard as a part-time ranger at Whitewater Preserve in 2015, he relocated to the high desert in 2016 as full-time manager/ranger of Pioneertown Mountains and Mission Creek Preserves. He brings with him a unique background of outdoor EMS experience, on the ground land management knowledge, and is well versed in conservation topics in the area. As a 5-year resident of the desert, he continues to be amazed by the beauty and diversity of the desert environment.

Joe Zarki

Joe Zarki

Vice President


Originally from Maryland, Joe Zarki retired in 2013 after a 38-year career as a National Park Service ranger he had stints at Death Valley, Denali, Tuzigoot National Monument, Yellowstone, and he served as Chief of Interpretation at Badlands National Park and at Joshua Tree (1995-2013). Joe was very active in fostering curriculum-based education in the parks and was a co-creator of the Expedition: Yellowstone! residential environmental education program. In 1999, he obtained a grant that led to the creation of the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park. Since retirement, Joe has authored a number of publications including the popular history, Images of America, Joshua Tree National Park. Long active in citizen activities, Joe coordinates Christmas Bird Counts at Joshua Tree National Park and Morongo Valley. Together with his wife Marilyn Lutz, he helps organize butterfly counts at Joshua Tree National Park and at Big Bear Lake. Joe volunteers as a bird walk leader at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve and also plays guitar with a local band, Nobody’s Station.

Rainier Spencer

Rainier Spencer

Secretary


Rainier Spencer is a retired professor and senior higher-education administrator, having served 22 years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Prior to his academic career, he spent 13 years as a US Army officer. Rainier and his wife purchased property in Joshua Tree in 2002, and since retiring have begun to live their dream in the desert where they enjoy the quiet, the animals, and the landscape.

Bob Zimmerman

Bob Zimmerman

Treasurer


Bob Zimmerman retired from the practice of law in Chicago in early 2011. He lives in both Palm Springs and the Chicago metro area, although he is emphatically not a snowbird: he’ll be in Chicago in January and sometimes be in the desert in August. He is an active volunteer with Wildlands Conservancy and with the Desert Institute of the Association, and is a volunteer and a former member of the Board and immediate past President of Mojave Desert Land Trust. He and his children have been visiting Joshua Tree National Park since the mid-1980’s, during its “national monument” days, and considers the Park one of his family’s special places. He appreciates the opportunity to work with the Association in enhancing the experience of visitors to the Park.

Directors

Bill Truesdell

Bill Truesdell


Current Board member Bill Truesdell is a retired National Park Service employee. Beginning in 1962, his NPS career included assignments in Shenandoah, Everglades, Virgin Islands, Dinosaur, Denali, and Joshua Tree, where he retired from the position of Chief Interpreter in 1994. After retirement he continued to be involved with Park activities as a volunteer, instructing Elderhostel classes, guiding Field Institute classes, and later Desert Institute classes in the Park. About 2005 he was invited to join the Board of Directors of the Park Association.

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Linda Castro

Linda Castro


Linda Castro started with the California Wilderness Coalition (CalWild) in 2014, working on the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). Her role then expanded to Desert Organizer, and she now serves as their Assistant Policy Director. She works on state-wide issues related to public lands, but the desert remains her primary focus. Based in Southern California, Linda was a military “brat” who lived in Europe and South America for a significant portion of her childhood before arriving in Texas. She obtained her Bachelors’ degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, and then moved to California and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Whittier Law School. She practiced law for years before making the move to the conservation field. Linda lives with her family and is an avid tent camper, backpacker, and hiker. She also volunteers her time with, and serves on the Board of, a Santa Clarita-based non-profit that works to protect and restore wild places and rivers in Southern California.

Annie Semmelroth

Annie Semmelroth


Annie Semmelroth was raised by an outdoorsy family in Boise, Idaho.  She has traveled to 17 (and counting) countries around the world mostly for rock climbing trips.  In 2015, she became owner and operator of a rock climbing guide service in Joshua Tree National Park.  She is passionate about helping people explore the Park safely and responsibly.  Annie is just as enthusiastic about the unique desert ecosystem in the Mojave as climbing.  With any additional time or resources, she volunteers or donates to the MDLT and Friends of Joshua Tree.  She has also supported events such as Climb Smart which raise funds for active organizations in JTNP such as JOSAR and the H.A.R.P. Team.

Erin Adams

Erin Adams


Erin Adams grew up in central Pennsylvania along the Appalachian Mountains where she first fell in love with public lands.  She spend her college years in Washington state, spending her free time rock climbing, hiking, and as a wildland firefighter.  After earning her degree in Biology, she began her career as the Director of the Desert Institute at JTNP in 2004.  In the past 15 years, Erin has worked for the Department of the Navy all over the world in the fields of natural resource management, cultural resources, environmental science, and most recently in government affairs.  She is currently the Director of Government and External Affairs at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.  In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, hiking, overlanding, and cooking.

Laraine Turk

Laraine Turk


Laraine has been a nature lover since growing up near Cleveland, Ohio, and is grateful to her parents for instilling that appreciation. After a 29-year career managing student services departments in several California colleges and universities, Laraine spent her final 5 working years at Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree. In her retirement she eagerly began to volunteer in the service of conservation and the environment in the desert. Among her organizational commitments have been the California Desert Coalition, Morongo Basin Conservation Association, Morongo Basin Dark Sky Alliance, Morongo Basin Open Space Group, the County’s 2nd District Night Sky Committee, and the Joshua Tree National Conservation Historic Reserve citizens’ group. Laraine is honored to be part of the Association and feels that its work is contributing to the long-term conservation of our very threatened desert environment.