After asking Kathy Hocker if I could interview her for this blog, I realized that writing about her would be a challenge. She has so many talents! How could I do justice to all of them?
Then we did the interview, and I discovered that it would be easy to cover all her talents because she uses them to create the whole of who she is and what she does.
Kathy’s field is science; her college major was forest ecology. During the interview it became clear that she has her feet firmly planted in the natural world. Every one of her varied talents — art, writing, editing, teaching — become tools she uses to enhance her commitment to the observation, study, and understanding of the world we live in. Her singing weaves it all together.
Kathy Hocker was born in Las Cruces, NM in 1968. After three years the family moved to Edinburgh, Texas, at the very southern tip. When Kathy was six, they all moved to Juneau. Kathy has been in Alaska ever since, except for college and a brief time in California.
She went to Harvard, where she majored in forest ecology. She was interested in biology, and hoped to find her niche there. She got a bachelor’s from Harvard (they call it an AB.) She really wasn’t excited about a master’s in science, but she realized that the path that made her happiest was the one that allowed her to share the beauty and poetry of science. She explains as follows:
1. She sees science as a way to understand the world, calling it a natural and elegant function of our psyches. She says that the fundamentals of science flow in our consciousness.
2. It is her belief that science reveals beauty. She says, “Even during field work, you are in the middle of a wonderful opportunity to notice things of beauty. Being in a very careful state of observing leaves you open to seeing, hearing, and experiencing the beauty around us. There is beauty in the fundamental nature of the universe. You can see lovely symmetry, balance, and interconnections between all things.”
In 1992, Kathy went to California, where she taught at an environmental school. Several counties in the state have outdoor facilities with cabins. She worked with students who were all from schools in Shasta County. The program was based in Whiskeytown, California, near Mt. Shasta. Kathy took these fifth and sixth graders on hikes where she would teach them about natural history. She worked with each group of students for one week. There were enough schools in the county to allow her to teach classes for the entire school year.
In the natural history classes, Kathy taught concepts, but, more important, she taught students how to be, out in the natural world: to look and to listen. They did hands-on activities. For example, they would be blindfolded and Continue reading