Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Vol State President Explores Africa and Brings it Back to You

You may know Dr. Jerry Faulkner as the president of Vol State, but you may not know that his first love is teaching. Before he was in administration, Dr. Faulkner was an environmental science and biology professor for many years. After voyaging to the plains of Tanzania to explore the Serengeti National Park with his wife Wanda this past summer, they returned to the U.S. with many stories. Dr. Faulkner gave a presentation which highlighted their experience, and offered a crash course on ecology, elaborating on that of the Serengeti. 

“You can’t keep a good field biologist out of the field,” he said. “The way that I have described it to people is that it was like being in a National Geographic special for nine days,” he explained. “It’s kind of a bucket list thing for me … it’s such a unique ecosystem and not something you can see in North America.”

Wanda said they were able come into fairly close contact with quite a few different species of animals. “The number of animals was just breathtaking,” she said. Dr. Faulkner presented many photographs of the animals and explained the symbiotic relationship between the animals and the environment. 

“Getting to see a mother cheetah run down and capture a Thomson’s gazelle, then not killing it, but calling her cubs to come and finish it off, to teach them how to kill, that was pretty cool,” said Dr. Faulkner. “To see and understand the balance of nature that takes place in a totally wild community is not something we really experience here in the states. In an environment where you see predators killing prey you see that balance of nature,” he added. 

There are over 120 tribes in Tanzania, and the Faulkners interacted with two of them, the Maasai and the Chaga tribes. Wanda said that she admired the way the tribal people live. “They make do with everything,” she said.

By experiencing this environment first hand and being able to convey those experiences to students, Faulkner was able to revisit his love and passion for teaching science. “Hopefully I’ll create among some of the students an interest and an appetite to know more about ecology and biology,” Faulkner said.

-By Rachel Keyes

No comments: