When I was a child, I played outside every day. As I grew older, my range expanded from the yard to fields and streams. I brought home bugs, snakes, frogs, and dead animals. Later, my father took us on family camping adventures where I discovered the beauty and allure of the mountains.
Teaching is an opportunity for me to bring others into the out-of-doors to explore new environments and see firsthand how animals and plants survive together. At Nazareth, I take students on field trips to local ecosystems. For many years, I took groups of students to the Adirondacks every fall where we visited bogs, searched for mushrooms, and camped in the rain. The most memorable expedition was a summer project in which two students and I surveyed the loon populations in the Adirondacks, carrying canoes into lakes that few people visited. More recently, I have taken students to the tropical environments of Costa Rica and Belize, to Peru and the Amazon jungle.
Teaching is opening the door to experience the out-of-doors. It is sharing my interest in discovery and learning. The classroom and the textbooks introduce students to the vocabulary and to pictures. I believe that learning biology must be experiential, in the laboratory or in the field, for understanding to occur. When students discover and learn for themselves—that is the goal of teaching.