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Joshua Tree, CA


Site Leaders

Thomas Ackleson

Luke Watson

Type of Service


Site Partner(s)

National Park Service



Departure Date


Return Date






Site Leader Description #1

Hi there! I'm Thomas; I'm a second year studying biomedical engineering. Last year I went on an ASB trip to Moab, Utah - it was the highlight of my first year. I met such incredible people and had a ton of fun. I also learned a lot, especially about myself.

I grew up on a ranch in Northern New Mexico, so the outdoors are in my blood. I love fly fishing and hiking, but it's pretty hard to beat star gazing.

Outside of ASB I serve as the Senior Counsel for the Honor Committee; conduct research in a vascular tissue printing lab; and struggle with my organic chemistry homework. I'm also obsessed with Gregory Alan Isakov - give him a listen.

Excited to meet you :)

Site Leader Description #2

Hi everyone! I'm Luke! I'm a second year from Morgantown, West Virginia, and I'm studying physics. While this may be my first year with ASB, this isn't my first rodeo in a National Park. I've visited 14 National Parks, the most recent being my very own New River Gorge NP back in WV. I've heard tons of great things about ASB from Thomas, and I'm excited to make Joshua Tree my next NPS adventure! Around grounds, you can catch me studying like my life depends on it in Clem, singing in UVA's flagship choir (USingers!!!) or with my Broadway a cappella group (HoosITS!!!), or scaling the many trees in the lawn gardens with my backpack full of homework. I also love black-and-white TV shows, origami, apologetic literature, and all the seasonal pumpkin-spice foods. I can't wait to meet y'all! :)


Trip Logistics

On Friday night we will take the Amtrak from Cville to Alexandria, VA, where we will stay the night (in either a hotel or, if we have an accommodating NoVA participant, their house...) On Saturday we will fly to Las Vegas (to go gambling obviously), where we will rent two off road vehicles and take a scenic four hour drive to Joshua Tree, CA. We'll shop for groceries and last-minute supplies, then drive to our campsite in the park and set up camp. Each day will involve working with our site contact on projects around the park AND free time to explore. We'll do hikes, explore the towns nearby, and venture to some more off-the-beaten-path locations near Joshua Tree. Our travel home will include driving back to Las Vegas, flying into DCA, and then getting either the train or a rideshare back to Cville (we should be back by 10:00 PM local time).

Participant Requirements

The only requirement is to come with a good attitude! We'll be camping and it will get cold at night; you should be comfortable with this, as well as lots of sun exposure. Sunscreen required, too :)

Service Activities

We will be primarily working with the Park's vegetation team to restore flora to burn-scarred areas from a recent wild fire. You can also expect to be helping with trail maintenance and cleaning, and maybe even a vegetation research experiment. None of it will be back-breaking, unbearable labor. We're going here to have fun and contribute meaningfully to the park's preservation!

Recreational Activities

The National Park has tons to see and do, but it's also very busy. We'll hit all the highlights in the park, but will also make an effort to explore the town of Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, and the surrounding BLM and state land for hikes, etc.

Community/Area Background

Joshua Tree is 800,000 acres of beautiful terrain and wildlife. The forest and park are home to many birds, mammals, insects, and lizards. This southern californian park will be a great place to explore, hike, give back, camp, and bond on this trip.

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