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Faculty Profiles: Dave Dornbos Field Biology in Spring

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage | Feb 03, 2015

What course could possibly teach you everything about any natural environment you walk into, from sampling soil to keying out wildflowers to identifying bird songs to correctly distinguishing animal tracks? Only one, Field Biology in Spring (Great Lakes Campus, May Term), taught by Calvin College Professor of Biology David Dornbos. Don’t let David’s area of specialization (MS, from The Ohio State University and PhD, from Iowa State University in crop production and physiology, of all things, after receiving his BS in Biology from Calvin) fool you. Although his current research and publications focus on plants (domestic, wild and invasive, with studies published in scientific journals like Crop Management, Crop Science, and Canadian Journal of Plant Science), David’s natural curiosity and fascination with all things living and natural makes him the perfect instructor for a course requiring an enormous range of scientific and observational skills. David explains, “Natural systems illustrate how food production systems should be constructed because natural systems are inherently sustainable.  So it is deeply interesting to learn how these systems function and to think carefully how Christians should live, what we should eat, how we might use agroecological ideals to construct food production systems, to live out the dual command of Genesis 2:15 to ’serve’ and ’protect’ God’s Creation.”

His students agree. A former student in the course recalls “The elements of the course were wonderful. I think I learned a lot from them and they will definitely help me in my further studies. The way the instructor taught was amazing. Putting a personal touch really helped me understand the information very well.” Despite the many demands, callings and uses of his multiple interests, skills and talents, David returns each May to Au Sable’s Great Lakes Campus for another round of Field Biology in Spring. Notes David, “Every spring is unique and interesting.  Renewed joy is found when re-acquainting with ‘old friends’ like big-flowered trilliums, yellow birch trees, porcupines, common yellowthroat warblers, or a brook trout.  I am thrilled when people experience this world and find their own joy in God’s handiwork. “

There is no course quite like Field Biology in Spring, and no instructor quite like David Dornbos. Au Sable is honored that they come together every May with us. For those aiming to teach environmental education and field natural history to others, or simply learn how to appreciate and enjoy every part of the natural world around them, David Dornbos and Field Biology in Spring are the gateway to a new and wonderful world of discovery in God’s great creation.