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May 3, 2012     The Adams County Record
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Page 12 Wednesday, May 2, 2012 The Adams County Record Community Spotlight Hoby (Daniel) Richards Inspires Science at Meadows Valley High By Deb Wilson Hoby Richards' science classroom encompasses an ecological wonderland. Every square foot brims with anatomy, ecology, geology, life 'and physical scmnce. Full-sized mounts of birds, owls and herons surround the upper walls. In the corner sleeps the class pet-- Fletcher, an 8' Mexican red-tailed boa constrictor, curled in a glass cage, extra dark skinned and lethargic just prior to shedding his skin. Hoby (Daniel) Richards has taught science at Meadows Valley Junior/ Senior High School for 31 years, except for a year teaching in Africa. His deceptively youthful appearance, energetic activities and zest for learning inspire his students. He says it's an incredible age to be teaching. With so many resources now--the internet and smart phones-- it's not just teaching facts, but teaching how to find them and be discerning about the information resources. He sends his classes on-line any time that he's gone. "I don't know if I could teach anything else but science;' he said. "I'm such a 'what is it?' kind of guy:' "What is it?" enthralls six classes a day. At the back of the room the 7th graders colored rats groom together, while their growth is measured and graphed. On the side sits a large cabinet of skulls, including sand hill cranes, a river otter and a cougar. Students help prepare the skulls for display, and use classification keys to identify species. His storage room houses 30 years of excellently preserved insect collections, including a hymenoptera (wasp) exhibit of over 100 local species, and spreads of intimidating Indonesian and African insects. He challenges his students to prepare presentations, and helps them understand a b o u t adaptation, ecology, and all of theways people are part of the natural world. Ask studentS about Hob),, and they'll eagerly describe their science field trips. Every four-year cycle rotates students through the stunning landscapes of Utah's Bryce Canyon and Moab, the Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. "Field trips get them excited about science;' he shared. One year they went to Costa Rice, an amazing rainforest. They learn about the larger world; kids keep a formal report of their discoveries, and help compose a class video of their expedition. Raising trip money has become a sizable miracle. When the school board FOR stopped their funding, For years the locals called patrons and alumni him Flatlander. Now a came through. Hoby second generation of really wants to thank the students sits enthralled Fosdick Golf Tournament in their parents' previous and the Lightfoot desks. Foundation, which funds "If you're going to teach environmental efforts, in a small town, you'd Hoby wasn't sure about better be willing to dive teaching after he graduated into all kinds of activities;' from. Idaho State he explained. He is University and married junior class advisor for his high school sweetheart, fundraisers and the prom. Judy. "I thought I'd be the next Jacque Cousteau or something," he laughed. He's the baby of five children, born in Wendell, Idaho. His inspirational mother just celebrated her 90th birthday. He played cowboys growing up; his brother was TV hero "Matt Dillon", and he was Texas Ranger "Hoby Gilman"; hence the nickname Hoby. "Mostly it was God taking me by the hand and guiding me where he wanted me to go;' he proclaimed about finding his job in Meadows Valley. He leads 3 Quiz Bowl competition teams with Mrs: Rawlings. His Green Club members evaluate energy efficiency for local businesses. He and his wife, ludy, have run Christian values based youth groups on Wednesday nights at home since 1982. Students love it, call it a place to "take a load off" and let go of the week's stress. "None of this happens without Judy;' Hoby smiled. Judy works in McCall as an optometric technician, very tech savvy, but backs RESPECT AND RELIABILITY Big City Selection All At One Location MARK EDWARDS Committed to Cornfnunity Service www.maFkedwardsfoFsheFiff.com W=it us on Facebook 14 YEARS PUBLIC SAFETY EXPERIENCE ADVANCE CORRECTION CERTIFICATION LAURIE EDWARDS, TREASURER PAID FOR BY EDWARDS FOR SHERIFF, him up and lathers the kids with love. His dedication has won him many awards, including the Governor's Outstanding Performance Middle School Teacher 2009, Idaho Environmental Educator Award K-12 Educator of the Year for 2009, Teacher of the Year, and a Friend of Education Award. In 2008 he was selected for an Earthwatch Expedition to Nova Scotia, and shared the experience with his students through his blog (http://www. earthwatch2. org/LFF/ MrRichards). He has also been selected to attend the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics the past 2 years at USC Santa Barbara. He won the Fulbright Memorial Fund, spending 3 weeks in lapan observing a very different educational system. There he said the kids were so focused on the competition of passing the state exam that they had lost their zest for learning. He fears that kind of competitive turn off could happen here. Pay cuts, state administration changes, end of course exams..."The target keeps moving, the benchmarks change.., administration challenges are crazy;' he explained. He'd much rather take the class out to measure projectiles from the tennis ball cannons. Some days he's happy he'll be eligible for retirement in 3 years. But then the bell rings, the classroom door closes and he and his students start their science exploration for the day. And it's all worthwhile. "Besides I can't retire...I have no social skills with adults;' he laughed. Hoby loves the Meadows Valley, with its mountain biking, hiking, and bird watching. He teaches the students to play cribbage, a family favorite. Both his children recently graduated college and married. "I am almost embarrassed to tell you how blessed my life is, wonderful kids, great students, an amazing marriage;' he admitted. He's also enjoyed great work experiences in the summers since 1989 surveying threatened and endangered species. This year he monitored domestic sheep, practicing his Spanish" working with the Peruvian sheepherders. In 1994 he took his family to teach in Africa for a yea in Cote d'Ivoire on the Hgrn of Africa. It was a tru leap of faith to go to an area of such danger and lisease. Petite Judy contracted malaria, but forturlately responded well to metications. I learned a lot bout the importance, of relationships there, Hoby recalled gratefully. He's inspired generations of students to appreciate man's place in the natural world, and excel in life. Above all he wants to say, "Thanks for letting me teach your kids. I hope I leave behind a legac that is honoring to my family, this community and to my God" We service all makes and models Quality Seice Award Winning Factory Trained Technician E Phone (208) 549-3310 - T011 Free (800) 658-5080 602 Highway 95 Weiser, Idaho 83672 www.hometownmotors.com