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The Call of the Wild stikes close to home

November 11, 2009

Lee, Number Two Son, came into the house this week with a mixed tale about the incompetence and/or underfunding of South Dakota’s institutions of higher learning, and the marvelous opportunities that a cadre of dedicated professors teaching wildlife biology open to their students. 

The bad news was that Lee (in his senior year) didn’t have the ecology class necessary to get his ticket punched so he could waltz out the door.  The class is given only once a year, each fall semester.  The deficiency had not been pointed out to him in the status review that he’d gone to at the end of his junior year and he’d registered without it, intending to take it spring semester.  He says he has friends with similar stories.  As is my style, I was loud and profane for a while.  The kid is mad, but taking it better than I am.

Lee’s thinking more creatively, which leads to the other tidbit.  While he was working for the National Park Service this summer, Lee met Brian Smith who was engaged in field research at Badlands National Park.  Lee was intrigued and volunteered some of his free time to help out on the project.  This fall the relationship continued with Lee taking some of his senior level biology courses from Dr. Smith.  This week Dr. Smith suggested Lee look into a field work course offered by the Audubon Center of the North Woods.  Three weeks in the Minnesota North Woods, working a week each out of Sandstone, Ely, and Lutsen, doing wolf and lynx research, most of which will entail full days in the field on snowshoes and skis.  Unfortunately, BHSU will accept the credits earned doing the wolf/lynx work, but it can’t be substituted in lieu of the required ecology class; but at least the kid pitched the idea.

Lee is enthused — I’m hooked.  Coming so close to check writing date, the price leaves one a bit breathless, but if the kid wants to go into the research end of wildlife biology, its something he needs to see up close and personal.  And having this chit on one’s resume may help to explain the delay in getting the hell out of BHSU.  So, the gear and clothing assessments begin.  The kid assures me he’s got a lot of it covered from his seasons of skiing; I’m just hoping that’s so. 

I recall from long-ago many cold wind-swept days on the ice of Lake Thompson with Westrum and Clever Lyle; I don’t remember being cold, but we didn’t have heavy snow to contend with.  And we had waders and hip-boots, things not on the North Woods list — ohhh, I fear the kiting out may surprise us all.  Stay tuned.

— Margadant

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2009 5:08 pm

    I am certain you realize that after a little time Up North, Lee, like Jimmy, won’t ever come back to SoDak. How can you keep them down on the farm after they’re seen the woods? Of course one round of mosquito and black fly season might change that too. Maybe you can reunions in Worthington.

  2. Dex permalink
    November 17, 2009 4:48 pm

    I remember trapping on Lake Thompson. You said to me, “This may be the last masculine thing we ever do.” We made some money, but we were mostly there to keep my old man company. Most people don’t know this but he never liked to be alone.

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