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Staff photo by Stevie St. John
Helen Fields, the education director at the Desert Discovery Center, works at the center on Saturday. Fields arrived in April and will remain in Barstow only through September.

Our Town: Fields’ travels lead to Barstow stop

BARSTOW — Helen Fields wants to see the country.

The native midwesterner left St. Louis, bringing along her husband and dreams of traveling. They knew too many people who planned to retire and travel and never realized that goal. Rather than wait, they applied for temporary posts through the Bureau of Land Management.

That strategy took them first to Florida and then to Barstow, where Fields will serve as the education director at the Desert Discovery Center through September.

The 10-year teaching veteran, who formerly taught fifth grade, seemed a natural fit working with the young students who take field trips with educational sessions at the center. Fields applied specifically for the Barstow post.

“I’d never experienced the desert,” she said. The desert stunned Fields with the natural beauty of features such as canyons. She stopped to feel a Joshua Tree. She learned about the desert tortoise and native snakes. She discovered how animals adapt to desert life.

“I’ve been really enchanted with the scenery, with the environment,” she said. “It’s been quite a learning experience.”

In her role at the center, Fields writes curriculum, serves as a liaison to schools and teachers, and promotes the center’s programming in the community.

Once her current term is up, Fields will return to Big Cypress in Florida, where she’ll lead swamp tours and show students how to test water, wind and humidity. The program there is part of the appeal of returning. The climate, too, played a role in choosing where to spend winter. After that assignment, Fields doesn’t know where she’ll seek out her next adventure.

Though the RV beckons, Fields said she’ll miss Barstow. Despite her short time in the community, she said, she quickly felt like she “fit right in.”

“It a great size where you can really get to know people,” she said. “The people I’m going to miss so much.”

Contact the writer:

(760) 256-4121 or

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