Joshua Tree, CA
Type of Service
National Park Service
Site Leader Description #1
I'm Jack Neary and I’m a third year from Richmond, Virginia in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. My interests include education policy and constitutional law. This summer I worked in the kitchen at a summer camp in the Adirondacks and did a lot of hiking. I went on an ASB trip to the Grand Canyon my first year and last year went to Moab, Utah with Lyle. Outside of school I work for the UVA Athletics Department and lead Young Life in Madison County. I can also juggle and solve a Rubik’s cube. I love long walks on the beach at sunset, dominoes, Chinese checkers, and John Mulaney.
Site Leader Description #2
I’m Lyle Prockop and I’m a rising third year majoring in English and Economics. I’m originally from Massachusetts. At UVA, I’m a member of Greens to Grounds, Green Greeks, and Student Entrepreneurs for Economic Development. I love hiking and being outdoors. I spent this summer interning at a behavioral design agency in Cape Town, South Africa and the previous summer working on a sustainability project in The Bahamas. I went on the ASB trip in Moab, Utah last March with Jack and I’m so excited to go to Joshua Tree this year!
We will leave Charlottesville early Saturday morning for a midday flight to LAX. We’ll arrive in the early afternoon and drive the ~2.5 hours to Joshua Tree! We’ll be camping for the entire week in the park (in tents, but there are nearby toilets and running water) and cooking our own meals. We will have Sunday to explore the park, and we’ll work for the National Park Service wherever they need help from Monday through Thursday. Those days, we will likely volunteer through mid-afternoon and have some time for recreational activities before dinner. We’ll be free on Friday to explore the park and/or surrounding area! (We’ll have tentative activities planned/ideas for down time but are totally flexible to whatever the group wants to do.) We’ll fly back on Saturday and get back to Charlottesville late Saturday night.
Our trip is open to anybody, no matter your outdoors experience! All we ask is that you come with an open mind.
We won’t know what exact activities we’ll be doing until we arrive, but we will be volunteering for the Vegetation Branch of the National Park Service in the Division of Science and Resource Stewardship. That means we could be doing anything from native plant restoration to vegetation assessment and monitoring. Whatever we do will be in order to help preserve this special area for a long time to come!
Although we will spend a significant amount of time volunteering, we’ll have plenty of time to explore the area. Joshua Tree has tons of options for activities! We will have the chance to go on a lot of hikes and (hopefully) see some Big Horn Sheep. Besides the endemic ~Joshua Tree~, there’s a lot of unique plant life and beautiful terrain. Because it’s been populated by so many different groups of people, there’s a lot of history and we can take advantage of one of the many historical tours offered by the National Park Service. Joshua Tree is also famous for its stargazing, and since we’ll be camping with no electricity, we’ll be able to take full advantage.
The establishment of national parks in the US has deep ties to groups of American native people, and Joshua Tree is no exception. The Park is the area where the Mojave and Colorado (Sonoran) deserts meet; the unique combo of high desert and low desert is the perfect environment for very unique plants (like the Joshua Tree !) to grow. The people first recorded there, the Pinto Man, were hunter-gatherers along a now-dry river in the Pinto Basin. Later, the Serrano, Cahuilla, and Chemehuevi people traveled through the area collecting nuts and fruit, leaving rock paintings and small pottery bits behind. In the late 1800s, explorers, cattlemen, and miners came, transforming the land more than any group before them with the dams and mines they built. It was occupied by homesteaders throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, designated a national monument by FDR in 1936, and declared a National Park in 1994. Since then, the park has been a huge draw for artists and musicians from the surrounding area. (The Eagles song “Peaceful Easy Feelin” mentions Joshua Tree !). It is most notably home to the Desert Tortoise and Bighorn Sheep, but its plant and animal life is evolving due to climate change.