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Stewards Individual Placement Program


Abandoned Mines, Paleontology, and Maps at Joshua Tree National Park


GIP Megan Gross at Joshua Tree National Park.

Megan Gross recently wrapped up her second term at Joshua Tree National Park (JOTR) as a Paleontology Assistant with the Geoscientists-in-the-Parks (GIP) program. Megan’s favorite activities as a GIP were assisting in the Abandoned Mineral Lands (AML) projects that were scheduled for fall 2019 and spring 2020.

“I assisted in closing 2 fairly big mine projects. The first one was El Sid and involved lots of camping, lots of evolving ideas on how to close the mine, and lots of physical labor, which I love. The second closure, Golden Bell, ... became a central part of my duties during the final 3 months of my term with GIP at JOTR. This allowed me to spend time using my knowledge of mine closures, geology, and my critical thinking skills in the field with [one of my supervisors], Stacy.”


GIP Megan Gross at Joshua Tree National Park.

During her time at JOTR, Megan worked on a wide range of projects, both small and large. She was most proud of her final project for her paleontology research, which was completing and getting her paleontology map published and online with ArcGIS.

“I am most proud of this project because I only knew the basics about ArcMap and ArcCollector prior to coming to JOTR. I am proud to say that with training from [my supervisor], Stacy, I was able to produce a map that is well organized and perfectly understandable. The map I produced includes all the paleontological data that I collected. The data collection, data management, and metadata management is thorough and concise so that the future possibilities of this map are endless. It will allow the next person to swiftly start conducting paleontological reconnaissance from where I left off and will allow this person to easily step in and update the map, their data and all of their metadata.”

Megan’s time at the Joshua Tree overcame several obstacles. Megan’s initial position was delayed due to the 5 week government shutdown of 2018-2019. Megan’s second term wrapped up just as restrictions started to ramp up because of COVID-19 and as the situation evolved, Megan and her supervisors developed ways for her to complete her projects while still being safe.


Megan Gross collecting data on the drilled water wells throughout Joshua Tree NP.

“I really enjoyed my 2 terms as a Geoscientist-in-the-Parks intern at Joshua Tree National Park. I feel very proud to have been able to complete this program.”

Check out Megan’s Instagram for some more photos from her time at Joshua Tree:

Introducing Energy Communities AmeriCorps!

ECAP is a groundbreaking initiative aimed at supporting coal mining and power plant communities in their transition to a clean energy future. Join us virtually on July 25th as we outline the goals of the project and how you can apply for one of our VISTA positions.

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