If there’s one name that is indelibly linked to Joshua Tree National Park, it’s that of Minerva Hamilton Hoyt – the Pasadena socialite and member of the Pasadena Garden Club who became the driving force behind the creation of the national monument that would later become our beloved national park.
After the tragic deaths of her son and her husband, Hoyt dedicated herself to protecting desert lands. She founded the International Deserts Conservation League and formulated proposals to create new parks, advocating for creation of vast desert parks at Death Valley, Anza-Borrego, and Joshua Tree. Hoyt advocated that the area around Joshua Tree should be preserved, and President Franklin Roosevelt was persuaded to establish Joshua Tree National Monument on August 10, 1936.
Hoyt’s legacy has lived on with the establishment of the prestigious Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award in 2004, and more recently, with the Minerva Hamilton Hoyt Internship. The Internship is paid for by the Pasadena Garden Club and administered by the Joshua Tree National Park Association. A three-person panel with representatives from Joshua Tree National Park, the JTNPA, and Copper Mountain College, review and score applications and collaboratively decide who is awarded the internship. Applicants submit an application with an essay about their career and academic goals, and their fit for the internship, along with college transcripts and two letters of recommendation.
The intent of the internship is to “promote and protect the quality of the environment through educational programs and actions in the fields of conservation and civic improvement,” while honoring the legacy of its namesake. Interns work 160 hours in Joshua Tree National Park under supervision of national park employees and receive a $3,000 stipend. At the conclusion of the internship, the intern prepares a final report that summarizes their work along with a short video describing their internship experience.
The Joshua Tree National Park Association recently announced Copper Mountain College student Kaeliegh Watson as the 2023 recipient of the Minerva Hoyt Internship. Now in its fifth year, the internship is awarded annually to a Copper Mountain College student majoring in STEM with a GPA of 3.0 or better.
Watson’s internship takes place this spring semester. She is working under the supervision of Joshua Tree National Park employees in the Science and Resource Stewardship division. She’ll perform a mix of fieldwork, data management, and scientific research during her internship.
Watson is enthusiastic about her internship, and noted she’s already had the opportunity to get out into the field.
“I’m working with the plant management team for the national park,” Watson noted. “We’re looking at the different wildflowers in a certain transection. So far, we’ve been doing Pinto Basin, down in the lower desert, which is a part of the park I don’t see very often because it’s further to travel to, and it’s hotter out there. But the lower basin is starting to show the flowers.”