ABDNHA would not exist if it were not for our knowledgeable program leaders and
other volunteers, some of whom are
Don Barrie | Mike & Jan Bigelow
| Hal Cohen | James W
Cornett | Reena Deutsch
Mary Ekelund & Paul Larson | Robin
Halford | Kurt Leuschner | Joan
Mike McElhatton | Joe Migliore
| Doug Nolff | Urmi Ray & Sanjiv Nanda
| Dr. Jim & Grace Rickard
Don Barrie, M.S., Geoscience Educator
Don Barrie is head of the geology department at San Diego Mesa College.
Prior to joining the Mesa faculty in 2004, he taught geology, oceanography,
physical geography, and natural disasters part time at Mesa, Cuyamaca, Grossmont,
and MiraCosta colleges, and at San Diego State University.
As a professional geologist (PG) and certified engineering geologist (CEG),
he has over 14 years' professional experience managing geologic and environmental
field investigations. For 8 years, he worked as a senior geologist with AMEC
Earth & Environmental, a San Diego consulting firm.
Barrie is a California registered professional geologist and certified engineering
geologist. He holds a B.S. degree from Humboldt State University and an M.S.
from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
Don conducts Geology
lectures and field trips for ABDNHA as well as programs in Borrego Springs
Elementary School for the ANDNHA After School Science Program.
Mike and Jan Bigelow
The Bigelows are native Californians. Jan is a graduate of UC Berkeley, retired
from teaching. Mike is a graduate of California State University, Chico, retired
foreign editor for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Transplants from Northern California, where we were volunteers at Yosemite
National Park, we have been coming to Borrego Springs since 2002. We are
volunteers at the state park Visitor Center, Anza Borrego Foundation,
ABDNHA, and are certified naturalists. Mike is active in the local Botany
Society, Jan an avid hiker.
We have enjoyed taking all of our five grandchildren on different
international Elderhostel trips, in the last few years. We have traveled in
our motorhome around the US, to Canada and Mexico. We also did a motorhome
trip in South Africa.
The Bigelows conduct hikes for ABDNHA. The have a well-rounded
knowledge of the Anza-Borrego desert but their particular expertise is botany.
Hal moved to Borrego Springs in 2001 and spends his time studying bird
migration, specializing in the migration of Swainson's Hawks. He loves to play
tennis and to hike in Borrego Springs. Hal has acted in several community
plays. He travels worldwide and has taught classes on every continent
Prior to moving to Borrego Springs, he taught Field Natural History and
Ornithology at College of DuPage near Chicago for 38 years. In 1998 Hal was
selected Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation, Washington DC.
Hal Cohen graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA degree in
Political Science and from Chicago State University with an MS degree in
Biology. As a post graduate, Hal spent half a year at the University of Miami
studying marine biology. He received National Science Foundation Grants to
study ecology at California State/Long Beach and marine ecology at Stanford
Hal is the founder of the annual Borrego Hawk Watch, which documents the
annual migration of the Swainson's Hawk through the Borrego Valley.
James W. Cornett
Jim Cornett received B.A. and M.S. degrees in biology.
He is the former curator of natural history for the Palm Springs Desert Museum.
He has published over 150 scientific and popular articles, as well as over
twenty books on a variety of desert subjects. He is the author of Desert
Palm Oasis, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Desert Snakes, and
Desert Lizards, among other books, published by Nature Trails Press.
He conducts research projects sponsored by the Joshua Tree National Park
Association and has been a speaker for the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History
Association's Annual Desert Lecture Series.
Deutsch is an outdoors leader and naturalist who organizes excursions in Anza-Borrego.
She has published a book
"The San Diego and Arizona Railway" on the history of the railway using historic photos
and extensive research, all of which help to explain why the line earned the
nickname of “the impossible railroad.”
Deutsch is known to ABDNHA for her Impossible Railroad lectures and field
trips to the historic Cary Ranch in Anza. She has led a wide range of outdoor
adventures including overnights with the Sierra Club and its Wilderness Basics
course. She is a former board member of the Anza-Borrego Foundation, and has
led tours along the Impossible Railroad in the past for ABF.
Mary Ekelund and Paul Larson
and Paul are a husband and wife team that spend winters in Borrego Springs
and summers at their home overlooking Lake Superior in Bayfield, Wisconsin.
They are volunteer naturalists for ABDNHA and the Anza Borrego Desert State
Park, leading hikes to some of their favorite places in the park.
Paul, a retired chemist, has also studied geology and shares his knowledge
of the various rock forms in the area. Mary, a retired high school math teacher,
is especially interested in the historical and archaeological features.
Both Mary and Paul enjoy meeting the many visitors to the desert and sharing
with them the unique plants and fascinating wildlife.
Paul and Mary lead hikes for ABDNHA.
Robin Halford is a fifth generation Californian who graduated from Colorado
State with majors in zoology and entomology.
After several years of working in Death Valley in the winter and Yellowstone
National Park in the summer, she decided to make a change.In 1990, she discovered
Borrego Springs and never left.
The owner of the Desert Robin shop on Palm Canyon Drive, Halford assisted
Art Morley and Keith Smeltzer with field work for their Lower Willows chapter
in Barbara W. Massey's Guide
to Birds of the Anza-Borrego Desert. She is currently a volunteer parabotanist
in the San Diego Natural History Museum's Plant Atlas program.
Halford is perhaps best known as the author of
in Anza-Borrego: Over 100 Half-Day Hikes.
A new edition is in the works and will be released shortly.
hikes for ABDNHA.
Kurt Leuschner is a Professor of Natural Resources at the College of the Desert.
His specialties include ornithology, entomology, desert ecology, and natural
His favorite bird is the Pinyon-Jay.
Kurt does a variety of programs for ABDNHA; he leads excursions to the Salton
sea, has given lectures, and a wide range of programs in the ABDNHA library.
Borrego Springs resident Joan Malone is the former educational program director
for ABDNHA, and she still leads an occassional hike
Avid hikers and campers, Malone and her husband Bill purchased a home in
Borrego ten years ago, and moved here fulltime when she retired in 2005 from
the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. Much of her 25-year career centered on
teaching Naval personnel, including a year-long stint at the Royal Military
College of Science in England where she was primary developer of coursework
and lead instructor and assessor of two courses attended by 1,200 Naval officers.
She holds a masters degree in Computers and Education and studied geology
as an undergraduate. Since her arrival, Malone has worked in the library at
Borrego Springs High School and taught mathematics there.
A native of Nebraska, Malone was introduced to the desert in 1974 when she
moved to California. It was love at first sight.
“I love the starkness, the dryness, and the openness,“ she said.
“And the rocks – the rocks are beautiful – it’s just
a beautiful place.”
Joan and Bill Malone have two grown daughters – a married daughter
and two grandsons living on the East Coast and a daughter who teaches dance
in San Diego.
Mike is ABDNHA's Educational Program Coordinator. He and his wife
Terri moved to Borrego in 2011.
Mike and Terri have a long connection with Anza-Borrego; it was their
destination for countless spring break camping trips and winter vacations for
more than 30 years with
their two sons. Mike and Terri say that Borrego
Springs just seemed "like home" long before they actually moved here.
They are now full time residents.
Prior to moving to Borrego Mike worked for 33 years with the Idaho
State Park system as a state park manager and then five years as a professional photographer.
Mike started his career with the Idaho Department of Parks
and Recreation as assistant park manager at Priest Lake State Park, near the
Canadian border. He later worked at Boise Area State Parks and he then served as park manager at Winchester
Park, Dworshak State Park, and Hells Gate State Park, all in north central
He took an early retirement from the park system in December of 2006 and
returned to his love of photography, starting Digital Arts Photography, covering
all of northern Idaho and eastern Washington.
But a strong connection with the desert kept pulling on Mike and Terri and
they decided on the move to Borrego.
Migliore returned to desert living in 2000 and quickly immersed himself in
his first passion, natural history. Motivated by this love of nature he has
committed himself to sharing with others his appreciation for the desert environment.
As a volunteer and docent, he gives talks and leads nature walks and interpretive
hikes about the Coachella Valley and environs on behalf of several conservation
minded organizations. These include; The Living Desert, Santa Rosa and San
Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Bureau of Land Management, Anza-Borrego
Desert Natural History Association, Wildlands Conservancy at Pipes Canyon,
San Jacinto State Park, Friends of The Desert Mountains, the Natural Science
Collaborative and the Desert Trails Hiking Club.
Migliore’s interests include geology, especially this very tectonically
active region of southeastern California. He believes that an indispensable
part of appreciating our natural history involves interpreting geology as
a dynamic and “living” process which has a fundamental influence
on the local environment. He regularly gives talks and teaches classes on
geology, plate tectonics, earthquakes and earthquake preparedness.
Migliore has a BA in Zoology from UCLA and is a Certified Interpretive Guide
by the National Association for Interpretation with the Santa Rosa and San
Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Friends of The Desert Mountains, Docent,
and geology instructor at The Living Desert.
Joe leads hikes to the Mecca Hills area along with excursions the Salton
Sea. He is also a lecturer on geology.
Popular trip leader Doug Nolff has lead hikes and taught classes for ABDNHA
for more than three years. In addition, he has lead nature hikes for the San
Diego Natural History Museum since 1996, and has led Sierra Club backpacking
trips and hikes in California, Arizona and Utah for more than seven years.
Nolff has also been a docent for Blue Sky Ecological Preserve, and has spent
the last 40 years backpacking and camping over much of the United States and
He has college degrees in physics and computer science. Doug leads hikes
Urmi Ray and Sanjiv Nanda
Urmi and Sanjiv have been hiking in Anza Borrego since 2002 when they first
visited the park from the East Coast and fell in love with the desert. Since
then their jobs brought them to San Diego, and luck brought them to ABDNHA.
They spend their weekends hiking and watching the changing light and shadows
on the Santa Rosas. Urmi and Sanjiv lead hikes for ABDNHA and they
assist with production of "The Sand Paper."
Dr. Jim and Grace Rickard
James Rickard has had a 40 year research career in both optical and radio
astronomy and as a university professor. After obtaining a PhD from University
of Maryland, he and his wife Grace spent a number of years in Chile, where
he was employed as a staff astronomer at the European Southern Observatory.
He came to Borrego Springs as a staff member at the Clark Lake Radio Observatory
in 1977. In 1994 he took a teaching position at San Diego State University,
Imperial Valley campus and retired in 2004.
For more than 25 years Jim and Grace have been giving popular star gazings
for the public as part of the ABDNHA programs. They enjoy sharing their telescopes
to observe celestial objects, pointing out the constellations, and considering
the possibility of “life out there” with Borrego Valley residents
Deborah Sperberg was a poet, a painter and a business executive who only became
a naturalist after falling in love with Borrego in the late 80's and moving
here in 1992. She designed the award-winning passive solar house she and her
husband share here. She now conducts 4 wheel drive trips for ABDNHA.
Michael Wangler, M.S.
Michael Wangler is a professor of geography and coordinator of the Earth Sciences
Program at Cuyamaca College. He teaches courses in physical geography, including
the Earth's dynamic surface and field trips to Yosemite National Park and
the Eastern Sierra Nevada.
Wangler holds a Master of Science degree in Geography with a specialization
in fire ecology. He regularly gives talks and leads field trips throughout
San Diego's back country for ABDNHA and other organizations.
Active in outdoor affairs, Wangler serves on the board of directors of the
Back County Land Trust.
In fall 2005, Wangler was honored with the Cuyamaca College President’s
Award for outstanding dedication, service, and leadership to the college and
its students. He is vice-president of the Academic Senate for 2006-07.
An active member of the California Geographical Society, Wangler was coordinator
of the 61st annual CGS Conference in Borrego Springs in March, 2007, under
the sponsorship of the Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute and Cuyamaca
College. Michael leads geology hikes for ABDNHA