Has it been a year since I last sat down to write my contribution? Hard to believe, but the green of spring as I look out the window suggests that it has, indeed, been that long. And of course with two young, growing children at home, it has been a busy 12 months.
We made our annual summer trip to Germany last June, spending time in Hannover with my in-laws and a month in Giessen where I did more research on heavy metals in the Lahn River floodplain. Both Christine and Nicholas, who are 4 and 8, respectively, quickly returned to speaking German, and enjoyed visiting with old friends at the university guesthouse and local school. One change from our previous year, there was the arrival of the "Euro" currency, an event that has altered the feel of traveling in most of Europe. It is no longer necessary to change money when passing from France to Germany, for example. Although this makes shopping much easier, the fun of collecting colorful currencies is gone, and with it some of the atmosphere that made each country unique. We returned to the U.S. in August, spending a week on an island off the coast of Maine with my sisters and their families before returning to Manhattan in mid-August for the start of the school year.
The fall semester saw me teaching Human Impact on the Environment, Environmental Geography 2, and Colloquium I, the latter for the first time. I was also one of three instructors for the NRES Secondary Major Capstone Course, a program for which I still serve as Director. My research activities focused on submission of a contribution on the Physical Homogeneity of the Midwest to the Encyclopedia of the Midwest and work on field and lab data collected from Germany. A post-Christmas trip to Bozeman, Montana, to visit some family and go cross-country skiing in Yellowstone National Park brought 2002 to a close. The week in Big Sky country also afforded me the chance to go downhill skiing for the first time since my senior year at Dartmouth some 20 years ago. Nicholas was proud to beat his Dad down the hill every run; I was happy just to finish the day in one piece!
In the spring I offered Geography of Kansas to nearly 120 students, the largest enrollment in the course since I began teaching it 10 years ago. I also taught EG 2 and Colloquium 2. Early March saw a trip to the AAG Meetings in New Orleans and presentation of part of my research from Germany. In the department, several colleagues and I revised the undergraduate major in geography and put together a geography "capstone" class that will be required of all senior majors starting this fall. Away from the office, I was kept busy taking Christine to dance and swim classes and Nicholas to hockey and soccer practices and games. Looming on the horizon is a return to Germany and Giessen in June, and some additional fieldwork in the Lahn valley.
If you should find yourself on campus, please stop by Seaton 124A and say "hello"! With Dave Kromm's retirement last May, I am now the faculty member with the longest tenure in the department, albeit by only one year over Bimal Paul and Karen DeBres. Yikes!!!
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