Rudy chasing butterflies
Wednesday night I left the family, and drove to Myrtle Beach with a colleague (and friend). She and I were on our way to the science teacher convention. Sadly, you could really see that budget cuts were taking their toll, as the attendance was MUCH lower than I expected. Happily, I got to meet Rudy Mancke. He is an absolute walking encyclopedia when it comes to natural history in SC. He is currently a USC (the real one, not the one in Southern California) professor, and a former curator at the state history museum.
Now, I have to admit, I vaguely knew who he was (most in SC do), but I wasn't brimming over with excitement UNTIL I heard him speak at the keynote address. WOW. He is amazing. I attended my workshops for the rest of the day, and made a lot of contacts that may pan out for my students, as well as others in my school.Dr. Michel
The BIG FUN, however, came on Friday when I went on a beach walk with Rudy, and Dr. Jaqueline Michel. She is a geologist who described all of the changes on the coast. It was supposed to be a 2 hour workshop, however, as we walked across the street to walk the block to the ocean, Rudy stopped in the lot that had overgrown..... and then he started showing us EVERYTHING - he knows the name of every shrub, plant, tree, insect, bird, etc. It took us about 45 minutes to walk that one block because he had comments to share about everything we found. When we got to the beach Dr. Michel explained a lot about the erosion of the coast, and the last OBVIOUS beach nourishment project on Myrtle Beach, and why it doesn't have the dunes it should have. When she finished Rudy took us to several places along the beach and explaine every single shell, coral, sponge, etc that we could find. He connected everything back to Dr. Michel's talk about the changes in coast. It was mesmerizing.... I know.... I hear you..... first a math geek, now a science geek. But I was truly inspired. On the way back to the hotel some random person ran up to him, "Are you Rudy from the NatureSCene show." He was of course gracious. Many South Carolinians have grown up watching his show, which he called Show and Tell on TV.
All day, I kept thinking - I shouldn't have blown off all of those biology classes - I mean I REALLY couldn't stand them, but now I'm seeing the value of knowing the difference between a mollusk and an echinoderm. So I'm actually looking into taking classes at the rival to USC, although I'll never buy an orange sweatshirt... and seeing if I could maybe one day grow up to be Rudy Mancke and try to inspire my students with the science they really should have each and every day.