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28 March, 2003

Welcome To Nome

Surprise blizzard like conditions greeted me as I woke up this morning, affirm reminder that I am not in Illinois anymore. High winds, bitter cold, heavy snow and very limited visibility lasted much of the morning. The Bering Sea lays a mere 55 yards from the hotel and was not visible until around noon.

This provides the perfect opportunity to address the ever popular question of why the Arctic. Probably the simplest answer to that question can be summed up by my second grade nature nut nephew who introduces me as Uncle Dave, he is science.

Although I cannot live up to such a lofty title as actually being science I can appreciate my nephew’s enthusiasm and curiosity for what I do regarding science. For it is in his eyes and the eyes of many of my students that I see that wild and passionate hunger for science that I still have.

I have what could be described as an unbridled desire to learn about science and teach it to others, more specifically biological, earth and environmental sciences. Science was the only subject I seemed to do well in. Science is constantly changing, it happens everywhere all of the time, it involves and affects nearly everything about us and keeping in tuned and current provides an infinite exciting challenge.

As far back as I can remember this gravitational pull towards learning and teaching science as provided a variety of opportunities and placed me in a number of memorable places and situations. Places that invited research and scientific inquiry, places that fostered imagination and investigation, places, as one colleague stated, you gotta want to be.

I’ve discovered mind-boggling science while in shoulder deep swamp water in the Florida Everglades, found wonder and excitement in a New Jersey watershed study during torrential rains, and even scientific bewilderment in the blistering heat of an Arizona desert and the damp mustiness of a Pennsylvania zinc mine. I can even goes as far to say that I have found scientifically puzzling questions at the bottom of a Florida sinkhole, in a longleaf pine forest, within a Pacific Ocean coral reef and even at the bottom of an archaeological trench.

On each occasion and every situation I have learned first hand a vast variety of scientific techniques, research skills and data collection methods. The networking and resources I have gained from nationally recognized scientists have allowed me to provide to my students some of the most current and cutting edge scientific information available and use the same equipment.

Why go to the Arctic? Because there is science happening on that cold windy, ice encrusted, snow covered, isolated island called Little Diomede and I want to become a better teacher by experiencing it.

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