Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – January 17, 2019

The Changing Wildlife and Environment of Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert

Lori Hargrove, PhD, Research Ecologist, San Diego Natural History Museum


Joseph Grinnell and his colleagues at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, documented the fauna of Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve through site exploration primarily during the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Since 2016, the Department of Birds and Mammals at the San Diego Natural History Museum has been resurveying these same sites, using the historic surveys as a standard for gauging more recent changes. In Joshua Tree, the main theme of change is the decrease of many species associated with chaparral and pinyon/juniper woodland, paralleling the decrease in these habitats wrought by drought and fire, but a few species have recently colonized Joshua Tree.  Join Dr. Lori Hargrove for this very informative lecture and see which species of birds and mammals are moving in and which have left the Morongo Basin.


Bio:  Dr. Hargrove first joined the San Diego Natural History Museum as a volunteer in 1995, where she became fascinated with birds and their habitat relationships. She went on to receive her PhD in Biology at UC Riverside, where she won numerous research awards. A focus of her study has been on elevational shifts of bird species and the mechanisms involved, including response to fire and climate change. She is now leading a variety of ecological research projects for the museum, including the NSF-funded Grinnell Resurvey Project.


Bring your friends, or just bring yourself to our Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series once a month.  Speakers will present topics of special interest for high desert residents. The lectures start at 12:00 p.m. Admission is $ 5  or free for Museum Members/Sponsors.  Beverages will be served.

A Great Frontier Odyssey —- November 1 – December 22, 2018

Underground Village

Arkansas Pilgrims

After the opening of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, the public clamored for images of the newly accessible American West. The Harper Brother’s publishing firm in New York sought to capitalize on this, and chose Jules Tavernier and Paul Frenzeny to provide images of the frontier. The intrepid men were skilled at depicting newsworthy places or events that favored the plight of the common man. Coupled with their artistic and journalistic talent and keen powers of observation, they were a powerful team; Tavernier created each engraving’s watercolor painting before handing it off to Frenzeny, who added newsworthy details and drew the scene in pencil on wood blocks.

A Great Frontier Odyssey: Sketching the American West is curated by Dr. Claudine Chalmers and traveled by Exhibit Envoy.

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – December 20, 2018 – 12 p.m. – Free

A Brief History of Christmas Carols and a Short Fun Sing-Along Concert

with Stefanie Ritter, Vanessa Cantù and a special guest


Every year the museum takes a look at one of our favorite holiday customs at its origin and development over time.  With the season in full swing it is time to put an ear towards music.

How good of a King was Wenceslas?  Who spent Christmas in Beverly Hills? Why do we sing spring carols in winter? 

Myths and stories surround many of our beloved Christmas  carols.  Learn some interesting and amusing facts about these songs during this entertaining lecture.  Join in and sing along with some popular tunes with live cello and recorder accompaniment.

Bring your bring your friends, or just bring yourself to our Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series once a month.  Speakers will present topics of special interest for high desert residents. The lectures start at 12:00 p.m.   Beverages will be servedThis lecture is free for the holidays.


Santa Visit, Craft Faire, Snow Play Day – December 1, 2018

Enjoy a holiday wonderland at the Yucca Valley Community Center!  SHOP FOR UNIQUE GIFTS at the annual Holiday Craft Faire featuring all handmade items by talented local artisans. Win Door prizes and enjoy holiday shopping!

 Bring your camera for that SPECIAL PICTURE WITH SANTA at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum.  Drop off your LETTER TO SANTA in the special mailbox!

 Holiday themed KIDS’ GAMES & ACTIVITIES!

 Ages: All

Date: Saturday, December 1

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Community Center and

Hi-Desert Nature Museum



Closed for Thanksgiving Holiday

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (November 22, 2018) and the Day after Thanksgiving (November 23, 2018). The Museum will be open on Saturday (November 24, 2018).

We wish everybody a great Thanksgiving!


Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – November 15, 2018 ~ 12 noon

A Suicide Bombing at Giant Rock

Image from the Dyer Family Collection

Image from the Dyer Family Collection

presented by Mike Digby

In the summer of 1942, a fifty-seven year old engineer and local eccentric by the name of Frank Critzer was known for two things: as the owner/operator of the Giant Rock airstrip in Landers in the Mojave Desert, and as the man who lived alone – under a rock. The Giant Rock.  During a criminal investigation Critzer caused a quantity of dynamite, stored in his home, to explode.  Critzer was killed immediately while the three deputies suffered non-fatal wounds. But why?

This lecture will focus on the forensic evaluation and post-blast investigation as well as  address the many rumors and inconsistencies about this most bizarre case.

Mike Digby retired as a detective/bomb technician after  serving 34 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and seven years with the United States Army.  He has provided bomb training to police and military organizations around the world. He has also authored two books: The Bombs, Bombers and Bombings of Los Angeles (2016) and A Bombing in the Wilshire-Pico District (2018).

Bring your lunch, bring your friends, or just bring yourself to our Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series once a month.  Speakers will present topics of special interest for high desert residents. The lectures start at 12:00 p.m. Admission is $ 5  or free for Museum Members/Sponsors. Beverages will be served. Download flyer here.

The project was  made possible with support from California Humanities,

a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Halloween Spooktacular – October 27, 2018

On Saturday, October 27th the Hi-Desert Nature Museum and the Town of Yucca Valley Recreation Department will host a Halloween Spooktacular at the Yucca Valley Community Center from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Participants of all ages are invited for an afternoon of Halloween-themed games and activities including a haunted house, face painting, photo booth, costume contest, a giant inflatable obstacle course, spooky crafts and a Trick-or-Treat booth! All activities are free to the public.

Kids, get dressed in your Halloween best and enter the costume contest! Awards will be presented in four age divisions: ages 0-3 years, 4-7 years, 8-11 years and 12+/group entries. Ages 11 and under will compete for awards in four categories: Best in Show, Scariest, Funniest and Most Original. Ages 12 and over along with group entries will compete for a single Best in Show award. This is a family friendly event so G-rated costumes only, no gory or inappropriate costumes please. Registration is accepted in the Yucca Room at the event from 1:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Space is limited and judging begins at 3:00 p.m.

Download Costume Contest Rules here.

Giant Rock Round Table – October 18, 2018

Please join us at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum for an informal round table get together. Karyl Newman (Exhibit Project Director) will share some of her research about the fascinating and sometimes bizarre    history of Giant Rock.  Please bring your own memories, stories,      adventures, photographs, videos, etc. to share with the group and/or possible inclusion in the upcoming “Our Giant Rock: a Community  Touchstone in the Mojave” digital exhibit at the museum.






























Chamber Music at the Museum – October 13 & 14, 2018

We are pleased to announce the 3rd  Chamber Music concert of the 2018 season at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum on Saturday, October 13 at 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday, October 14 at 2:00 p.m. for a Matinee.   During this concert series, titled “Musical Potpourri,” the Encelia Chamber Ensemble will be joined by local ensembles “Mojave Brass” and the “Harmonic Winds” to perform some of the ensembles’ favorite pieces.   Check out what the musicians have in store here:  Chamber Oct 2018 program.
Tickets are available for a donation of $15 for standard seating and $20 for preferred seating.*  Tickets can be purchased at the following locations:
Yucca Valley Community Center,  Monday – Thursday, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Hi-Desert Nature Museum,  Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
OR online:
*All proceeds will benefit the Hi-Desert Nature Museum.

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – September 20, 2018

Preserving Habitat for Rockhounds in the Mojave Desert

presented by Lisbet Thoresen

The Mojave Desert attracts millions of visitors every year. Its geological features are unique in the world, with the symmetrical volcanic cinder cones, lava flows and lava tubes of Pisgah and Amboy craters among the best representations of their kind. The solitude and beauty found in its unspoiled landscapes resonates in a deeply personal way for every individual, but it has another very special significance to casual collecting hobbyists, also known as rockhounds. Since the mid-19th century, when they were called prospectors, to the present day, rockhounds have come to California’s deserts in search of collectable minerals. The thrill of discovering, carving, and displaying a self-collected rock or crystal is a rockhound’s idea of heaven, and the Mojave Desert is world-renowned for the quality and variety of materials found there – feldspar crystals, fluorites, geodes, obsidian, opalites, petrified reeds and palm root, and quartz varieties, including beautifully colored and patterned agates and jaspers. This presentation showcases some of the Mojave’s collectable minerals and historical desert localities where they are found. An overview is also presented on the changing landscape of land use policy that increasingly threatens to curtail access and accommodation of rockhounding and other low-impact recreational activities.


Lisbet Thoresen is a rockhound advocate of preserving recreational opportunities for casual amateur collecting, or rockhounding, on public lands. Since 2014, she has worked on public awareness campaigns on land use policies that increasingly threaten access to collecting areas or accommodation of hobby collecting on federally managed lands, primarily in Southern California’s deserts. A key consideration in her efforts is to engage in constructive dialogue with other stakeholder groups over balancing conservation and cultural values with acceptable uses. She is currently public lands representative for San Diego Mineral & Gem Society, Inc. (SDMG) and Chair of the Public Lands Advisory Committee (PLAC) ­– South, for the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc. (CFMS). With 770 members, SDMG is the largest among 110 member societies of CFMS, which in turn, is one of seven regional affiliates of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc. (AFMS). In aggregate, AFMS represents about 51,000 members nationwide. In addition to her advocacy on behalf of rockhounds, Lisbet is a graphic artist and independent scholar specialized in gem archaeology of the ancient Classical world. Previously, from 1983 to 2000, she was a conservator of Greek and Roman antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu and Los Angeles.

Lecture Poster

Bring your lunch, bring your friends, or just bring yourself to our Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series once a month.  Speakers will present topics of special interest for high desert residents. The lectures start at 12:00 p.m. Admission is $ 5  or free for Museum Members/Sponsors.  Beverages will be served.