It was implanted in me as a youngster to be very respectful of the environment by my parents. My stepfather, who was a full blood Oglala Lakota, and my mother always took us kids out on nature hikes around the surrounding area. Locally we always visited Lake Manawa, Lewis and Clark Look Out, Fontenelle Forest, Scottsbluff National Monument, and Wild Cat Hills just to name a few places. Nationally, we would visit Black Hills (Paha Sapa), Great Salt Lake, Rocky Mountains, and Yellowstone National Park.
Please allow me to reveal some of my personal history. I endured harsh poverty during my childhood. I totally appreciate what my parents always tried to do. Ultimately, they did the right things as I would like to think I turned out to be a good and decent person. Most of my young life was spent growing up in Omaha. However, we were somewhat nomadic, and my parents would from time to time move to another city to have a chance for a better life. For instance, I do remember us being homeless and living out of a big station wagon and camping at night in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. During the day we would travel to Salt Lake City and my dad would apply for work and my mom would seek an apartment for rent. Eventually everything would come together. Times were simpler then. But, I grew very fond of the mountainous terrain of Utah and the wildlife that thrived there.
I was in Troop 31 of the Boy Scouts of America in Omaha, Nebraska. I earned numerous skill awards and merit badges. Camping, hiking, and swimming were just some of the activities an inner-city kid could enjoy. We were always taught to leave a place better then we found it. When I look back at my childhood, it is quite evident why I would eventually double major Biology and Geology as an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
My interest and sense of responsibility for the environment had grown since my youth. By the year 2005, the Governor of Nebraska had appointed me as the Minority Populations Representative on the Environmental Quality Council. I was noticed for my scientific inquiries at public meetings about the lead in the soil of eastern Douglas County left from the former Arsarco lead smelter plant located in downtown Omaha. My wife and I just bought a house near my old High School (Tech High) on 34th and Burt. And, we had young children!
Since then I have taught environmental geology for two decades at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I have served on the Governmental Affairs committee of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, which is an international body of scientists. I have mentored local minority students about the rigors of medical college. I have guest lectured about environmental racism at the local Malcom X center. I am or have been a member of the Association of American Geographers, National Wildlife Federation, Nebraska Geological Society, Sierra Club, and Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, just to name a few. Also, I have been elected twice to the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District.
I am proud to say that I have made an original contribution to science with my doctoral dissertation from the University of Nebraska, of which I recently published as a book. Dinosaurs and Indians: Paleontological Resource Dispossession from the Great Sioux Lands. I also have been published in respectable scientific journals.