Guest Speakers

A Ranger in Your Classroom

A ranger will visit your classroom to lead students in structured activities relating their study of the sciences to Joshua Tree National Park. All education programs are curriculum-based (California State Education Standards, NGSS) and free of charge.

Virtual Visit: Submit a Reservation Request Form

Teachers worldwide can schedule a virtual field trip by submitting a Virtual Field Trip Reservation Request Form to

Plants and Animals of JT- K-12 (accommodations made within the program for different levels upon teacher request) 30 minutes
Program provides an introduction to the NPS and Joshua Tree National Park specifically, highlighting some plant and animal desert adaptations while showing plants in their natural habitat and using animal props.

Draw JT- 2nd-6th (accommodations made to drawing depending on grade level and time) 45 minutes
Ranger leads a drawing activity of the Mojave desert while focusing on plant and animal adaptations. This is a great follow-up to Plants and Animals of JT. Students will need to gather some common materials from their home in preparation for the program.

Geology of JT- Rocks and Minerals- 2nd-5th (accommodations made within program depending on grade level and time) 30 minutes
Ranger leads an exploration of the rocks and minerals of Joshua Tree National Park. Students will complete a journal page along with the ranger as they take a close look at the composition of rocks. Students will need to gather some common materials from their home in preparation for the program.

Geology of JT- Weathering and Erosion- 2nd-5th (accommodations made within program depending on grade level and time) 30 minutes
Ranger leads an overview of desert landforms and an exploration of erosion- how does natural material move in a desert and what are the results of rain, wind, and plant growth on the rocks and landforms of Joshua Tree National Park? Students will need to gather some common materials from their home in preparation for the program.

Teachers interested in virtual field trips focusing on desert Native American cultures are encouraged to contact our tribal partners:

Kate Anderson
Director of Public Relations, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians 760-699-6925

Sarah Bliss
Cultural Resources Manager, Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians 760-863-2489

For distance learning options in nearby state and national park sites:
Channel Islands:
CA State Parks:
Santa Monica Mountains NRA:

In-Person Visit: Submit a Reservation Request Form

Rangers are considering safety and flexibility as we devise of ways of providing programming this fall. If you are interested in hosting a ranger at your school, please use the form below and email to

Things to keep in mind while filling out this form:

  • Coordinate with other teachers so that at least three classes are being served during the ranger's visit.
  • Limit group size to one class per program

Preschool and Kindergarten
Explore Joshua Tree!

Students are welcomed to the desert environment through exploration of how plants and animals survive in such a dry climate. They also learn how Joshua Tree National Park works to protect these plants and animals.
30 minutes
Standards: NGSS K-LS1-1

Early Elementary

Birds and Bats
Different living things can accomplish the same tasks in different ways. Students will explore the similarities and differences between birds and bats found in Southern California. They will also learn of the importance of these animals to a healthy, diverse desert ecosystem.
45-60 minutes
Standards: NGSS 1-LS1-1; 2-LS4-1

Junior GeoKids
While manipulating various natural materials, students will see the effects of slow and fast change on the Joshua Tree geological landscape. Prior to the ranger's visit, please watch this short video with your class.
45-60 minutes
Standards: NGSS 2-ESS1-1; 2-ESS2-2

Upper Elementary

Survival of the Wettest
How can a place with so few resources support such diversity in life? Students will actively explore ways in which plants and animals conserve the rarest of all resources in the
desert- water.
45-60 minutes
Standards: NGSS 3-LS4-3; 4-LS1-1

Erosion and deposition are often difficult processes for students to visualize due to their slow nature. Using natural materials, students will make erosion happen in the classroom and then translate those processes to what they see in Joshua Tree. Prior to the ranger's visit, please watch this short video with your class.
45-60 minutes
Standards: NGSS 4-ESS2-1, 4-ESS2-2; 5-ESS2-1

Life Long Ago: Exploring Native American Desert Cultures
For many thousands of years, multiple Native American tribes called the desert their home. Students will explore artifacts which help to tell the story of life in the desert and the changes these cultures endured as European Americans settled Southern California.
45-60 minutes
Standards: CA Social Studies: 3.2; 4.2-3

Middle and High School

Animals of Now and Then
The desert- home to camels, mammoth, and sloths… wait…what?! During the Pleistocene Ice Age (2.6mya- 12,000 years ago), Southern California was a very different place. Fossil discoveries tell us the story of undeniable climate change and how life either moved, adapted, or died. Students will be engaged in paleontological methods and discoveries in Joshua Tree National Park and how the past gives us glimpses into the future.
45-60 minutes
Standards: NGSS MS-LS4-1

Discovering the Ancients
Students will learn about desert plant growth and how to ID and age certain species in Joshua Tree. This program provides classroom practice prior to students’ arrival at the park for their Discovering the Ancients Field Trip (must be scheduled separately).
45-60 minutes

Tune into Tracking
Students will be provided the opportunity to learn how the threatened desert tortoise thrives and how park scientists keep track of the population. Students will track and take measurements of “tortoises” on school grounds. *No live animals will be used.
45-60 minutes

Issues in Park Management
Surrounded by millions of people in a highly populated part of the country, the park faces many issues when trying to fulfill its mission to preserve and protect natural and cultural resources for all in perpetuity. Using facilitated dialogue techniques, students will explore why they think these issues exist and how the park should react. Teachers can select topics from the following list of current issues: graffiti, climate change, impacts of increased visitation, or the teacher can work with staff on current issues pertinent to the classroom.
45-60 minutes


Prepare Your Class

Our rangers are committed to presenting an engaging educational program to your class. We need a commitment from YOU, our school partners, for success:

  1. Please prepare students with pre-visit materials provided and have program setup ready (if applicable);
  2. Your assistance throughout the program in maintaining the attention, focus, and good behavior of your students;
  3. Follow up with post-visit activities (if applicable).
With your assistance we're certain a ranger visit to your classroom will be a memorable and educational event for all of your students!

Last updated: March 23, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


(760) 367-5500

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