Asher Wertheimer Interview

Interviewee: Conrad Field
Place: Homer Spit docks
Slimy, sticky, sharp, all describe the creatures found in the ocean. These critters are odd, and very often scary, looking. So who would want to touch these things, who would want to spend every waking minute, getting up close and personal with these creatures of the deep? Why, only the Davey Crocket of the sea, Conrad Field. Conrad is a Biologist Naturalist. Translated to English, Conrad studies all those gooey, pointy, frightening things you see in the deep blue sea. However, Conrad was not always this way. He has spent a lot of time going around the world on multiple endeavors, practicing the art of “gypsi biology.” Which is when you go where room and board and public education is prevalent. While following this philosophy, Conrad worked as: a botanist in Canada, whale tagger in Newfoundland, and an alligator tracker in Florida. Now, Conrad, his wife Carmen, and their daughter Eryn, are based in Alaska. Conrad studied botany in Wisconsin, and decided that science was his gig in high school. He says that
it was a teacher in 8th grade who sparked his interest in biology. “I think that’s true with everyone, one person is gonna trigger you, and that was my one person.” He says, gazing at the water drenched rocks beneath his thick water boots. Soon, Conrad and his wife will be going to Japan to help with tourism, but not your usual type of tourism. On this trip, Conrad and Carmen will be lecturing on biology in the Kuril islands from Russia to Japan. They will be studying the wildlife of that area, a job that Conrad is looking forward to. The trip has many types of scientists, including, a geologist, paleontologist, ornithologist, a history major, and a botanist. Conrad first met AGLP in 1991, and began to take the participants down to the beach in 2008. Another important meeting in his life, was when Conrad met his wife. He briefly described the story, saying they met “at the University of Wisconsin studying trees.” Conrad didn’t intend to move to Alaska. He originally came here to study the organisms on Baren Islands. Then the Exxon Valdese oil spill hit, and he hunkered down, saying, “once you get here, it’s hard to leave.” At this point, Conrad was called to identify a creature, and began a lesson on the small critter, so we had no more time for an interview. I enjoyed listening to Conrad’s vast collection of knowledge, and cannot wait until we see him on the nature walk.
Asher Wertheimer

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