I have been birding for 24 years, and I have always been interested in wildlife and nature. I’ve been a fisherman since I was about 12 years old and was a boy scout even before that. The thing about fishing was I was always watching my bobber and fishing pole and not looking up in the sky to see what was flying by. In 1998 my wife and I were sitting in our living room reading through certain parts of the newspaper, she saw where Portland Audubon was sponsoring a Bald Eagle viewing trip at Sauvie Island. I couldn’t believe there were Bald Eagles at Sauvie Island because I had been out there several times fishing, but I wasn’t looking up at the sky.
So, I sign up for the Bald Eagle viewing trip in February of 1998 and was blown away at the number of eagles, hawks, and other raptors that were on the island. As we were concluding the trip and getting back on the bus, I saw older ladies with their binoculars up looking at some little brown birds. One of the ladies said to me no, those aren’t just little brown birds; one of them is a Black-capped Chickadee, and the other is a Red-breasted Sapsucker. I’m like a Sapsucker that is what Granny and Miss Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies used to call Jethro when they would get mad at him. I took my binoculars and put them up to my eyes and saw the color and diversity and beauty of both birds, and that hooked me!
That same year I began to go out to Sauvie Island by myself to learn more about birds, and that’s where I met Greg Baker, my mentor for the past 24 years. He invited me to join him for one of his classes that he was teaching for the Portland Audubon, we’ve been joined at the hip ever since. Greg Baker’s birding skills and knowledge are amazing, I feel lucky that he’s shared them with me.
I was born in Atlanta, Georgia but raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Married my high school sweetheart Deborah Allen in 1983, and we raised two wonderful daughters. All family members enjoy going birding with me. I played college basketball at The College of Idaho and graduated in 1980 with a teaching degree in Health & Physical Education. I taught for 8 years at Whitaker Middle School and Jefferson High School and, in 1988, went on to become one of the founding members of a youth program called Self Enhancement Inc. I did that for 14 years and was lured away by the Vancouver School District to set up similar programming in 2001. During my time at VSD, I got my administrative license and left to be a Vice Principal at Reynolds High School in 2005-2008. In 2008 I left the Reynolds School District to return to PPS and Jefferson High School to become their Vice Principal and Principal until 2022. All the while, I have been educating and exposing kids of color to birdwatching and nature. I’m retired now and plan to share this wonderful experience and birdwatching with kids of color.
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