“I wanted the students to meet a scientist who loves what he does, who is really excited about his job,” said Kessler. “Maybe it will inspire some of them to want to be scientists themselves.”

The week of March 14 – 20, 2016 was a busy one for field biologist Fletcher Smith. Fletcher visited the Virgin Islands as the Celebrity Scientist with the UVI program EPSCoR. It took almost two years for me to arrange this visit, but the wait was well-worth it. We visited 7 schools on 3 islands in 5 days. There were also bird walks on St. John and St. Croix, plus an evening presentation for adults on those two islands.

Fletcher presented to over 750 students, and it was truly a success. The reason I proposed this program to EPSCoR is because I thought it would be good for the kids to hear about the life of a true scientist who spends 80% of his time in the field. He’s traveled from the Arctic in NW Canada, to St. Croix, just tracking Hope the Whimbrel, the star of my book HOPE IS HERE!

It was very obvious by the quality and quantity of questions from the students that they were fully engaged in Fletcher’s presentation. His show included slides, videos, maps and a few graphs. Some kids even stayed after the class to ask individual questions. I would say that there are many budding scientists on the three islands as a direct result of hearing and seeing what an interesting and important contribution Fletcher’s field work makes.

I sincerely thank Fletcher for his hard work in making so many presentations and know for sure that he was an inspiration to the kids. And a big thanks to St. John Rotary and the Audubon Society of St. John that generously presented Fletcher with honorarium checks. Having community support like this is great, so thanks again to the Audubon Society on St. John, St. John Rotary and EPSCoR.

Learn more about Fletcher’s visit on this featured article in the St. John Source.

Excerpt from the article:

This month Fletcher Smith, an ornithologist working out of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, visited schools across the V.I. to talk to students about what he and his research team have learned while tracking Hope and other whimbrels. On Monday and Tuesday, Smith visited St. John, where he spoke with students at Gifft Hill and Julius E. Sprauve Schools.

Smith was accompanied by award-winning children’s author and St. John resident Cristina Kessler, who published a book about Hope in 2013. The two also visited schools on St. Thomas and St. Croix.

Gifft Hill School Students listening to a presentation from Fletcher Smith.
Fletcher Smith talking to students after his presentation at Julius E. Sprauve School.