Saturday, November 19, 2016

Celebrating 100 Years- and Many More!

-Anne C. Morgan, Head Curator & Angelina Coble, Education Department

The mission of the Imperial Valley Desert Museum is to preserve, interpret, and celebrate the deserts of Southern California.  The new permanent exhibits help visitors understand the cultural and natural history of the Imperial Valley.  As we finish writing the Museum’s five year strategic plan and partner with the Kumeyaay Diegueno Land Conservancy, the Museum is actively working on new ways to connect people to the great outdoors: nature, wildlife, and geology in all its majesty. Therefore, it seems only natural that the Museum’s staff should participate in some of the National Park Services’ Centennial celebrations! 

America’s National Parks

Sunset in Mojave National Preserve    
In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the first National Park, Yellowstone, into effect.  California’s first National Parks, Sequoia and Yosemite, were established in 1890.  Today America boasts 413 national parks and preserves, eleven in California!  On August 25, 2016 the National Parks Service, which manages all the national parks, monuments, and historic sites, celebrated its 100 year anniversary.  You have probably heard about the NPS’ year long celebration through online campaigns like #FindYourPark or tv commercials encouraging people to get out and enjoy the parks. Did you know that within six hours drive of the Imperial Valley you can get to three National Parks? Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, and Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument- the first national monument to be specifically dedicated to the preservation and scientific study of Ice Age fossils!

The Centennial Celebration is not only looking back at the accomplishments of the last 100 years. It is also looking forward to “a second century of stewardship for America’s national parks” through community engagement, recreation, conservation, and preservation.  This past weekend three staff members and two Museum Board members were invited to attend a Star Party and Centennial Celebration in the Mojave National Preserve by David Lamfrom, President of the Mojave National Preserve Conservancy’s Board of Directors.  Here is their experience and how it inspired local outdoor education through the eyes of Angelina Coble, Education Department.

Angelina Coble & Matsay the Museum Education Coyote setting up camp for the night    

Inspiration from the Great Outdoors

We spent the night at the Black Canyon Group Campground in the Mojave National Preserve along with over 100 other visitors. We were able to admire and take in the night sky, planets, and constellations through high-powered telescopes provided by experienced and skilled astronomers. For some of us it was the first time we had ever gazed at the rings of Saturn!
We took turns looking through the telescopes and sitting around the campfire enjoying the atmosphere of like-minded people, who understand and appreciate the awe and grandeur of desert landscapes. During the evening when David was addressing the crowd and thanking everyone for being part of the celebration he mentioned the importance of keeping the night as dark as possible: "we don't want Wi-Fi out here, we don't want our phones to have service out here. We want to preserve the ability to view the night sky without obstructions and distractions.” Another visitor added, "the night sky doesn't belong to the desert, the desert belongs to the night sky."

Edgar Bernal Sevilla in dense forest of Joshua Trees, Mojave National Preserve
The next morning Todd Seuss, superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park, and his spouse Jackie led a hike on the Teutonia Peak Trail where we were able to experience a dense landscape of Joshua Trees.  When we reached the peak of the trail Todd mentioned how much it meant to him to see so many young people (many high school and college students from L.A. seeing the dark skies and desert beauty for the first time) surrounding the campfire the previous evening.
Our hopes and efforts are to continue the conservation and preservation of these lands for the next hundred years, and the only way we can make this possible is through education. As part of the museum’s education staff it is my responsibility to impart to the next generation the importance of caring after and protecting our local desert. As Robin Dodge, secretary of the museum's board of directors said: “We cannot teach you these experiences." This makes me aware that the best way to educate a child in conservation and preservation is by giving them an experience. When a child walks through this museum, I want their visit to impact them for years to come. My dream is to host field trips for future archaeologists, botanists, historians, environmental advocates, and workers in the preservation and conservation field.

Angelina Coble explaining geology to Lexi Romo. IVDM permanent exhibit
I have this opportunity everyday with my 7 year old niece, Lexi, whom I currently have guardianship over and home school. She often comes with me to the museum where she is free to roam through the exhibits and look at them without any time constraints. She is in my closest realm of influence, and I have the ability to raise a pioneer to help lead the way to the next 100 years of preservation and conservation!

 Thank you David Lamfrom, Todd Seuss, as well as all of those that were involved with putting the event together and allowing us the privilege to experience the beauty you are daily surrounded by and continually work to protect.

Dr. Robert Wishner, Cory Landeros, David Lamfrom, Robin Dodge, Edgar Bernal Sevilla, Marcie Rodriguez, & Angelina Coble enjoying Mojave National Preserve

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