Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Seeing the Eagles Wasn't Our First Priority
Saturday morning we were able to do something very exciting. We were able to meet up with an excursion from the Bean Museum at Farmington Bay. They were there to observe the 50 something bald eagles that sit on the ice of the Great Salt Lake to catch fish or to steal fish from the gulls. As I have posted about before, we are really into birds and birdwatching. So going to see the eagles would have been reason enough for us to get up at 7 am on a Saturday morning, bundle up our kids and drive 1 hour to the icy lake. But there was something else about this trip that was even more of an attraction for us. This excursion was being led by Merrill Webb - one of our favorite people. He was our teacher for both physiology and zoology in high school. And it was in part due to our experiences with him that inspired both of us to pursue a future in medicine. He was an excellent teacher. He had the ability to instill in his students an excitement about science and nature and a desire to learn. There was just something about his teaching style that motivated students to do well - to share in his own love for the subjects he taught. And he had a sincere interest in his students and was just as pleased as they were when they accomplished something. Especially when it came to birds. If one of his students spotted a neat bird - he would enthusiastically say, "Good eye Spencer!" (or whatever their last name was). We still quote him to this day when our kids spot something cool.
We arrived to find the group already settled with their scopes in place - spotting an eagle eating a fish, or on the two different species of gulls, or on the tundra swan. And there was Mr. Webb - recognizing us immediately (amazing memory!) and asking about my brothers and my parents. We took a minute to catch up and we were thrilled to hear that he is still teaching. Not at our high school - but at a charter school. There was a tinge of disappointment in his eyes when he told us that he teaches a required general biology course. Of course - the excitement and interest wouldn't be there for the students taking a required science class. If they only knew what an amazing teacher he is and his wealth of knowledge to share! So we spent the next hour or so watching the eagles, sharing memories of zoology field trips, and catching up with other high school friends that came(who were there to see Mr. Webb, I'm sure).
Mr. Webb had a great idea - a zoology reunion - for anyone who took the class! We jumped on that idea and hopefully with Katy Knight in charge - we can organize something someday.
It was such a great experience - seeing the eagles and Mr. Webb. It doesn't get much better than that!