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Alumni Feature

Each quarter we will feature a story about our Parchment alumni here.

By Dave Person

Parchment Alumni Feature Image

Each person has a unique gift which, if shared, helps to create a better world, David Drummond believes.

When you discover your gift, it s never work, but play, that you can enjoy for your whole life, he says.

Drummond discovered his gift while growing up in the Parchment school district s Northwood area.

I feel very lucky, he says, my mom helped me learn, via the Kalamazoo Nature Center, that I had something special " to teach!

And so, Drummond, a 1971 graduate of Parchment High School, began a journey to learn more about the world and to share it with others.

First stop was a year at Olivet College followed by a year living and working in Florida before he moved to Washington, where he landed a job as a naturalist at North Cascades National Park and finished his undergraduate work at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

Armed with a biology and environmental-study degree, Drummond began a career of sharing his gift all over the globe, via land, water and air.

I call Bellingham home for my stuff, and wherever I am in the moment home otherwise.

I'd rather be outside living life, he says.

That philosophy found Drummond, 65, in the Arctic this summer, and in South America this past spring.

Before that, he and his partner and frequent traveling companion, Jucelia Gil Pinton, whom he met aboard the ship, Sea Adventurer, in Antarctica five years ago while he was working with Quark Expeditions, explored the backcountry of the Ketchikan, Alaska, area.

We have traveled, hiked, camped, kayaked and biked together in Alaska,
Washington/British Columbia and Michigan, (and through) Manitoba to Churchill for polar bear and Aurora Borealis experiences " lifelong dreams for Jucelia, Drummond reported in an email, since he infrequently has telephone service available while he is on the road.

After Alaska, they went south, to South America, a three-month jaunt that included a two-week bird-watching expedition in Brazil, Jucelia s homeland.

We saw 100-plus species of tropical birds of the coast, dunes, Cerrado savanna and southern Mata Atlantica rain forest ... many of which were new life birds for us both, Drummond wrote.

Upon his return, Drummond taught classes in Washington for two weeks before he took off again, this time for the Arctic, where he worked for G Adventures as an ornithologist and naturalist for more than 100 guests on an Expedition ship.

The ship sailed around Svalbard Archipelago, where the passengers and crew observed seals, whales and polar bears. Drummond and some 15-20 passengers went ashore for four hours of exploration, during which he carried a rifle in case of a bear attack.

Along with the many lectures Drummond delivered aboard ship, he wrote and read poetry and led poetry workshops, another of his passions.

All these experiences encapsulate what Drummond does for a living.

I am a professional wildlife biologist, naturalist and educator teaching regional and world classes, lecturing on land and on ships from the Arctic to Antarctica, he describes it.

These days, in addition to working aboard Expedition ships in the Arctic and Antarctica, Drummond serves as an adventure guide/naturalist via sea kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing, river rafting, climbing and bicycling, both days and multi-day trips while working internationally for various outfitters.

He also is publishing three scientific papers on the Northwest Merlin falcon based on 33 years of research, and teaching at WWU and with various other educational institutions, government agencies and organizations such as the Audubon Society.

He and Jucelia, who are apart for five or more months at a time, are also planning additional personal vacations to South America, Southeast Asia and Africa as part of a 10-year travel plan they have developed.

They also are talking about buying a camper allowing them to see more of North, South and Central America.

Drummond says many people, in addition to his late mother, Joan, were instrumental in his development while he was growing up in the Parchment area, including many educators and coaches that he recalls, going as far back as Mrs. Ruth VanTilburg, his kindergarten teacher at Northwood.

In second grade Mrs. Niobe Hill was very supportive of my nature interest, he recalls. His third-grade teacher, Mrs. Etoile Thomas, read us the Call of the Wild, and other great Jack London stories.

I did not get to attend Mrs. Rachel Emerson's class in fifth or sixth grades, though I lined up at her door, only to discover both years that he was not on her class list, he recalls. She was a member of the Kalamazoo Nature Center and taught a Nature Study section. I was already taking classes at the KNC on winter weekends and at summer day camp at that time.

In middle school, Mr. Walter Francis opened my mind to physical science and taught me that there is no such thing as cold, just the absence of heat. Mr. John Weisgerber was my math teacher, and kept me afloat ? with his good support, presence and (he) supported my hustle in track and field in both seventh, eighth, as well as freshman
basketball. I really enjoyed this person!

In high school, I remember Mr. George MacLeod in my biology classes (I also was a teacher's assistant with him my senior year) as a very calm, intelligent and encouraging teacher and football coach, Drummond recalls.

Mr. (Dan) DeGraw was a source of inspiration on focused study, intellect and
sportsmanship; Mrs. Sandra Roundhouse taught me how to type; Mr. Ron Russell was a super supporter of my hustle and supported my interest to excel, starting me on his JV basketball team. I greatly appreciated his enthusiasm and focus in life!

Mr. (Tom) Beals was a great track and football coach. I was able to score the third highest points on his track team in my sophomore year, running the half-mile, mile, mile relay team and pole vaulting.

Also, I must say, my mom's patient and kind support and securing a scholarship to the Kalamazoo Nature Center and my dad (Paul) honing my sports skills and there is no such word as "can't" attitude, as they were pivotal people in helping me succeed thus far.

The KNC staff and fellow young people who were also weird nature geeks helped Drummond develop his interest in nature, he says. It was strange being a jock and socialite during the week at school and a closet fern feeler on weekends at the time, he says.

Drummond s father, his brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Julie Drummond, and niece and nephew, Scott and Kelly, remain in the area.

Drummond says he has been motivated throughout his life by the forces of nature.

When you realize ? that as a species we should ve remained hunter-gatherers living in balance within the regional ecosystems, then if you ve developed a reverence for life, you will do all you can to preserve the life force we all depend on, he says. Given the ever-increasing challenges, we all should be very motivated to totally change our approach to life " adapt to, don t modify, whatever is already perfect.

Drummond says what brings him joy is when we see people living a simpler life, closer to the natural rhythms of nature after (we have been) discussing life around the planet in various backcountry settings.

In his autobiographical sketch, Drummond put in a nutshell his response to that joy.

He wakes up with the birds and a quest to know and share everyday! David is passionate about world travel, adventuring and learning about life of the oceans to mountains and everywhere in between!