In the section of The Launch, we see that Raff gets financial support from his Uncle Cyrus to attend college. He chooses Florida State University, where his longtime family friend and mentor, Dr. Norville, teaches.
While at FSU, Raff also meets Dr. Needham, who serves as yet another mentor in Raff’s life and even points him in the direction of studying the anthill at Nokobee.
Who was your outdoor mentor? If you’re like me, you’ve been fortunate to have many. My father was one of mine, along with my college entomology professor, Dr. Michael Meyer (pictured with me on the right) . His enthusiasm for the subject was contagious and his passion and wonder was something I'll never forget.
I think an outdoor mentor is an essential piece to loving the outdoors. Aside from being a helpful person to run ideas by, they can inspire us to learn more and share their love and knowledge for the topic.
Who was an important mentor in your life?
I’d love to hear about a few of them.
Fostering Outdoor Mentors
Outdoor Mentors is a program that does just that, inspiring people to pass on and share their love for nature. There are also organizations like Children and Nature Network and my own, National Wildlife Federation, that are working to empower parents, teachers and other leaders to help get kids to connect to nature and have a passion for the outdoors.
What Needham gave Raff, was not only a professional opinion but also the space to safely grow in his knowledge of entomology. Needham was so passionate about the subject that he even opened up his office to let the students partake in a group called the Bug Bash, where they drank tea, talked about timely topics and always brought the discussion back around to the world of entomology.
Needham was a great listener. When he suggested Raff study the anthill, he didn’t do so forcefully, but merely pointed out that it was an option. I think this is a great example of how a mentor gives you enough space to explore and learn on your own, while listening when you have questions and offering open-ended advice. Raff is a lucky character to have two!
"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." - Rachel Carson