Anza Borrego Desert, CA


Site Leaders

Ella Thomas

Voss Neal

Type of Service


Site Partner(s)

National Parks Service



Departure Date


Return Date






Site Leader Description #1

Hey all! I am Ella Thomas and I am a fourth year in the college majoring in Art History and Chemistry. I’m from Powhatan, Virginia right outside of Richmond. My first year I went to Point Reyes National Seashore in California and second year I went to Sequoia National Park in California both with ASB and third year, I was slated to lead the trip to Moab in Utah but unfortunately wasn’t able to go due to a lack of spring break. (sad!). When I am not planning this trip or doing classes, I intern at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA and I work at Boylan Heights on the corner (come say hi sometime!). I am also the (self-proclaimed) biggest fan of Bull Moose Party (Voss’s band). I love camping, hiking, and also discussing my affinity towards all things related to these niche subjects: Jeopardy, modern to contemporary art, the proper way to cook s’mores, nature appreciation moments (NAMs), and also certainly the game of backgammon. Can’t wait to meet y’all soon!

Site Leader Description #2

Howdy everyone! I’m Voss Neal, a 4th year majoring in Economics and Cognitive Science with a Neuroscience concentration. I was born in Danville, Virginia which is right on the border of Virginia and North Carolina. While I have not been on an Alternative Spring Break trip yet because my planned trip was cancelled last year, I love camping and spending time outdoors as well as visiting National Parks, so I am extremely excited to get out there with you all! While I’m not planning this trip with Ella or doing classes, I am a video assistant for the UVA Football Team, a clinical research assistant with UVA’s Infectious Disease department, and a guitarist for the band Bull Moose Party. Will always be ready to talk music or nerd-out over Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones. I’ve been working on my dad humor for 21 years now, so come help me get some more practice!


Trip Logistics

We will leave Charlottesville very early on March 5th to make our flight out of BWI Airport to LAX. Once we land in LA we will drive to the park, stopping for groceries on the way, and set up camp. The next day is a free day that we will have to explore the park and surrounding areas. Then from Monday to Friday, we will be working with the parks service from about 9 to about 4 each day. After that, we will likely do some hiking and sightseeing then returning to the campsite to cook dinner, do reflections and play some games before bed. On Friday evening, we will pack up as much as we can before leaving super early on Saturday to make our flight from LAX back to BWI and then drive back to Charlottesville late Saturday night to be home by Sunday.

Participant Requirements

We will likely be camping so previous experience with camping is certainly awesome but by no means required. We will also be doing some outdoor service work so an open mind and a good attitude are the only necessary requirements for this trip.

Service Activities

We will be working with the National Parks service at Anza Borrego in whatever capacity they would like us to. This can include many different types of work including working with vegetation, trail crews, environmental studies or many other types of manual labor. One important aspect of this is that with environmental work there is always something to be done so there will be no shortage of work assignments for us! :)

Recreational Activities

We will likely be following the recommendations from the park rangers but will certainly include some hikes and other sightseeing activities hopefully daily after the workday. The first day we have free so we will keep this day open in terms of plans so that we can get the group’s input as to what everyone wants to do for recreation on this day.

Community/Area Background

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, named after the Spanish explorer Juan Baptiste de Anza as well as the Spanish word borrego referencing the big-horn sheep in the area, is a beautiful region with the title of largest state park in California and second largest in the United States. With hundreds of miles of epic trails, 200+ species of springtime wildflowers, and some of the best stargazing in the country, the park has been taking visitors’ breath away since being established in 1933. One unique feature of Anza-Borrego is the popular tourist attraction Galleta Meadows, where one can see a vast collection of over 100 life-size metal sculptures, including a 350-foot-long serpent, scattered across a three mile property in the desert.