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Natural Perspectives: 'Rapped' up in new teaching endeavor

January 18, 2012|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray

Vic must have thought that I didn't have enough to do, what with teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps, writing this column, and attempting to grow 350 pounds of food this year. He asked me to team-teach his bird and natural history courses with him at Saddleback College this year.

Naturally, I was flattered that he thought that I had something to contribute to his classes. But mainly I think he wanted me to ride with him so he could use the carpool lane on his commutes to South Orange County.

This was kind of a last minute idea of his. So in late December I rushed around to locate transcripts from my college days back in the Pleistocene. I had to be fingerprinted and tested for TB as well, plus go in for an interview.

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At my age (69), I should be thinking about retirement, not applying for yet another part-time job. But Saddleback College hired me, and now I'm on the faculty in their emeritus program. So be it.

The emeritus program turns out to be pretty neat. It caters to senior citizens, giving them an opportunity for what is called leisurely learning by the program administrators. No tests, no credit, no pressure. Just one class a week of fun that stimulates the brain. At my age, I need brain stimulation. I think preparing for these classes will give me a big dose of that.

As I suspected, Vic doesn't really need any help with his bird class. Other than taking bird photographs on each field trip and preparing a PowerPoint presentation on what was seen for the next lecture class, I really have nothing to contribute. But that "nothing" is going to occupy a considerable amount of my time.

The real time suck is going to be his other class, natural history. There, I have a considerable amount to contribute. Vic expects me to give a good portion of the lectures, since he teaches mainly ecology.

Ecology revolves about the relationship between the biotic (plants and animals) world and the abiotic (air, rocks and water) world. I just learned that in Vic's recent lecture.

Natural history is more like nature study. It covers local geology and prehistoric life, plus plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and the culture of early indigenous people. I already have material on those topics that will easily convert into PowerPoint lectures.

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