By Ingrid van Dijk & Judy Wheatley Maben
I came to the zoo docent orientation out of curiosity and somewhat of an interest in becoming involved. During the course of the morning some of us attending were sitting around chatting and getting to know each other as women do.
In the course of the conversation we talked about where we live and upon hearing where I lived Judy mentioned that she used to be a science teacher at the local high school there. I perked up and then really looked at her name tag. I recalled a biology teacher named Judy but the last name was different. I blurted out the last name I remembered and she just stared at me in surprise. That had been her last name back then! So here we were, 30+ years later, teacher and student meeting up again in another "classroom"! We had a great time sharing our memories of those times. I brought in my yearbook and we both had some good laughs!
It just goes to show that you never know where you path might cross with someone from your younger years. It was great to have this common bond of interest in science still connecting us. Our time in the docent training program has been a chance to get to know each other on a new level: as equals rather than student-teacher.
I think I have always been interested in animals, but it was a report on the flamingo for a high school biology class that really got me hooked. Who wouldn’t be charmed by a big orange bird that stands on one long, skinny leg while eating with its head upside down? And so I became a biologist, although most of my study subjects in college were nasty parasites. But when I started teaching high school I realized I needed more information about natural history and began taking classes at ARC and prowling around the Sacramento Zoo.
Becoming a zoo docent when I retired from my third career seemed natural. And more classes on animals…an added plus! One of the first ladies I met in the docent class looked me over carefully and asked if I hadn’t been a teacher at Cordova High School, where she had gone to school. Ingrid was in my teaching partner’s class, not mine, but we all were together on most days of lectures and labs. I was amazed she recognized me all these years later, in spite of age lines and blond hair that didn’t used to be blond.
Granted it is a small world, but it was an extra pleasure for me to learn that someone who had been in our biology program still retained a curiosity about animals and science, and had a desire to help others appreciate nature. Getting to know Ingrid as a “grown-up” has been a delight.