Local author hopes to bring nature back into the classroom
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 9:54 AM
After years of teaching the youth of Chatfield, St. Charles and Kingsland, Gary Erickson is once again bringing his knowledge of southeastern Minnesota to the masses with his new book "The Geology of Bluff Country Featuring Fillmore County."
For his second book, Gary Erickson focused on the geological wonders found in Fillmore County. Both of his works will be available at the Spring Valley Public Library and pdf’s can be found on his blog and Spring Valley Tribune’s website.
"I wanted to make this so schools could use it and people who had some interest in geology but no background in it could use it," said the retired teacher.
For "The Geology of Bluff Country" he kept teachers in the forefront of his mind.
"Now they have these smart boards and I sure wish I had a smart board," he said. "So, when I wrote this book it was with the smart board in mind, because I thought you know if they can download this as a pdf file then they could use it to explain how bluff country became bluff country."
The book explores numerous topics involving the creation of our area including a rock section, fossils, glacial history, valleys and bluffs, springs and seeps, caves and iron mines. It even highlights a geology road trip for teachers to use as possible field trips.
In addition, the book is filled with pictures taken by Erickson and his wife Bobbie during their years exploring and diagrams to give the reader a visual, as he understands many students can learn better by seeing.
But this book is as unique as the landscape of Fillmore County as Erickson is offering a pdf version at no cost.
"One of the things I ran as a teacher all the time was I'd want to use something but it would be copyrighted. I understand they don't want anyone to use it to make money, but they are also eliminating it as a useful tool for teachers," Erickson explained, "So my stuff is copyrighted only to keep people from profiting on it, but otherwise I want it out there so people can use it."
The Ericksons have spent the past several years showing the grandeur of southeast Minnesota on their blog Nature Notes, fillmorenature.blogspot.com,as well as with Gary's Nature Notes column found periodically in the Spring Valley Tribune. They enjoy capturing moments many of us would miss while also sharing their knowledge with the readers.
The books are based on much the same notion. His first book "Nature: A Beginner's Guide" began with the intentions of sharing his love of nature with his grandchildren then grew as a winter project last year, much like his second book which kept him busy over this year's long winter.
Both books are available on our website below this article.
As for the possibility of more books in the future, Erickson says, "I don't know where I'm going from here. People ask me if I'm going to do another one and I just tell them I don't know! But I do know I'll keep photographing."
For now, Erickson just wants to share the fruits of his labor whether it is by helping teachers expand the minds of their students or feeding someone's blooming interest in nature.