I cannot recall a time in my life when I was not a biologist. My first word was not the traditional “Mommy” but was, instead “flower”. My mother tells me that I would lay outdoors in my playpen, ignore the toys, and instead reach between the slats for whatever I could grab. Grass, worms, and dandelions were my playthings.
Our family had a summer home on Lake Hortonia, in westcentral Vermont to which we would go each year and spend the summer. Each day I would load my rowboat with fishing gear and BB gun and spend the day down in the “south marsh”. One day I recall watching as a Painted Turtle swam under my boat. Curious about what it was doing I spent the rest of the day very quietly following it as it hunted and basked in the water.
That curiosity about the natural world has persisted within me and has led me through Bowdoin College (1963-1964) and Franklin College (A.B., 1968) to Indiana University where I received my Ph.D. in Zoology in 1979.
I actually entered Indiana University to study chemical communication in snakes, a project I worked on at Franklin College. I was convinced that the anal scent gland of snakes was used by females to lay a scent trail for males to follow. No sooner had I entered grad school than I was drafted into the US Army. I spent two years as a medical laboratory technician. I returned to IU in Jan 1970 and took a course entitled “Advanced Ornithology” with Dr. Val Nolan. That course had a profound impact on my career path. I became one of Val’s students and took over a Red-winged Blackbird project he had begun earlier. For four years I studied a color banded population of redwings trying to determine what the value was to site fidelity. We knew that most every migratory bird will return to breed in the place it did the previous year, but why? Why make a long migration when there are other suitable sites to breed.
As an undergraduate, I knew that my vocation in life was to teach at the college level. I came to Norwich University in 1974 and have remained here to this day. My curiosity has a home and each day I am able to learn new things about our natural world and !!! get paid to do so.