My grandfather and uncles on my mother’s side were dyed-in-the-wool outdoorsmen. They hunted and trapped to put food on the table and knew which forest plants were edible or had medicinal qualities. My uncle Jim Schreiner was a passionate organic gardener and woodsman. He inspired me to get out and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. He subscribed to Organic Gardening and Farming magazine and loaned copies of it to me to read. Euell Gibbons had a standing column in each issue of Organic Gardening and Farming called “The Organic Nature-Lover.” In one of his columns titled “Stalking the Nearby Places,” Gibbons included the following poem:
I know a trail that needs a-walking,
Some friendly talk that needs a-talking;
There are some thoughts that need a-thinking,
A mountain spring that needs a-drinking;
There’s huckleberries need a-picking,
And honey-dew that needs a-licking.
Come, listen to the forest preach,
and learn what woodlands have to teach;
Learn to accept what woods will give,
Learn to relate, learn how to live.
I love this poem because it reminds me of Uncle Jim, and it captures the essence of the journey Deb and I are embarking on. Working with all of you has been a true privilege and a blessing. We will miss our day-to-day contact with you, and you will always own a special place in our hearts as you do your work helping our students transform their lives and assisting our employers in meeting their talent needs. We wish you the best with that ongoing quest. We promise to come back and help but from the sidelines of retirement. If you need a break from work, come and visit us at our cabin up on the Gunflint Trail. Our address there is 268 Soderberg Lane, Grand Marais, MN, 55604. For those of you who are pilots, like my great friend Scott Cabot, the GPS coordinates are N48.071028, W90.540222 (N48°04’15.7″, W90°32’24.8″E). You will always be welcome, and we’ll be thrilled to greet you there — but please let us know you’re coming in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Getting near to one’s retirement date tends to put you in a reflective mood. It does feel a bit strange to be “looking in the rear-view mirror” at my career instead of looking forward.
But it is also satisfying to do so with a feeling of satisfaction. A great deal of that satisfaction comes from the realization that, along the way, I’ve had the privilege of working with a great number of wonderful people who have devoted themselves to making other peoples’ lives better through the promise of a well-grounded and well-rounded education.
I am grateful to all of you for allowing me to have the honor of being part of that and helping you with that noble cause. What could be better than preparing students to make their mark on the world? It just doesn’t get any better than that!
The second 2019 UW-Stout Spring Commencement ceremony featured students from the College of Education, Hospitality, Health, and Human Sciences. Photos of graduates and their families were taken before, during, and after the ceremony
The first 2019 UW-Stout Spring Commencement ceremony featured students from the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Management. Photos of graduates and their families were taken before, during, and after the ceremony
The spirit of that quest is perhaps best captured, as an allegory, in one of my favorite John Denver songs titled “The Eagle and the Hawk.” I referenced these lyrics in my May commencement address:
I am the eagle
I live in high country
In rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky
I am the hawk and there’s blood on my feathers
But time is still turning they soon will be dry
And all of those who see me, all who believe in me
Share in the freedom I feel when I fly
Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops
Sail over the canyons and up to the stars
And reach for the heavens and hope for the future
And all that we can be and not what we are
Songwriters: John Denver / Mike Taylor
You are making eagles and hawks. Your work is amazing, extremely important and is changing the world.
Thank you for letting me be part of that.