Written by Betsy Abraham, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
For the past six months, Hicksville resident Chris Collins has spent his days digging for fossils and his nights falling asleep to the sound of vervet monkeys and coyotes. As a teacher’s assistant at the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI) in Kenya, Collins got a firsthand look at what it was like to live like an anthropologist.
Collins got his first taste of Turkana last year, as a student at the TBI field school which was founded by Stony Brook University and paleoanthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey. As a student, Collins spent four months learning about archeology, paleontology, geology, ecology and human evolution. What started as a study abroad experience, turned into a life changing experience as Collins soon found himself homesick for Africa.
“I loved it so much and I wanted to go back,” says Collins.
This year, he was able to get a different experience of TBI as he returned to Turkana as a teacher’s assistant. He left for Kenya in July, and spent two months doing research before the field school began.
Collins’ research focused on pollinators and grasshopper bio mass. As part of his research on pollinators, he studied butterfly migration as well as the behavior of pollinators in vegetable patches. He also did research on grasshopper bio mass. He caught grasshoppers within the Turkana Basin Institute compound and compared them to those outside of the compound, where there were predators such as goats.
“Without the goats, the grasshopper bio mass happened to be less, which was interesting because you would think there would be more food for them within the compound,” Collins said. “But there was more grasshopper competition inside the compound so that could be why.”
Once students arrived at the compound, Collins’ focus switched from insects to college students. For Collins, this is where the real learning began.
“I learned a lot about being in charge of a group,” he said. “And it’s not as easy as you would think, especially with a group of headstrong college kids.”
He helped in the classroom, planned trips for the 17 students, and helped maintain the field school's blog. His responsibilities also included reporting information on significant findings to the National Museum of Kenya. But it wasn’t all work—Collins also got to sit in on lectures taught by experts in the fields of ecology, geology, paleontology, human evolution and archeology, and take part in digs. Some of his finds included a fossilized hippo femur and Holocene bone spear tip, which was believed to have used to catch fish.
“It’s an amazing hands on experience, when you’re going out with an expert to look at a site and do the same work they do,” he said.
Collins and the students also got to explore the area (which is in northwest Kenya) and learn more about the Turkana culture. The field school students took several trips to a local primary school, where they played soccer with children and painted a colorful mural on one of the buildings.
Collins got his undergraduate degree from Stony Brook in anthropology last spring and is now looking into research and Doctorate programs. He’s miles away from the dry heat, exotic animals and people of Turkana, but Africa is still on his mind.
“I get homesick now when I’m in New York,” he said. “I loved how simple life was in Turkana and I’d love to go back to Africa one day.”
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
Typically Asian cuisine is not associated with dessert and pastries so I was delighted by the deliciousness of the breads and pastries I found at Canaan Bakery and Cafe in Hicksville. Savory and sweet buns, Danish and Korean pastries, cookies and very good coffee can be enjoyed at the café, which is located at the entrance of the H&Y Supermarket. This is the Nassau County outpost of the four Canaan bakeries—the other three are in Flushing.
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
Linda Cafiero has been a yoga and tai chi instructor, as well as reiki master, for well over 10 years. Last week she brought her meditation expertise to the Hicksville Public Library. Cafiero hosted a meditation workshop at the library for an intimate group of individuals seeking to gain a few moments of peace and serenity in their hectic and fast-paced world.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:40
Hicksville’s Matthew Sloan faced off against the best young soccer players in the world recently, as he traveled to Turkey with the Olympic Developmental Program.
The Hicksville High School freshman started playing soccer when he was three and advanced his game to a more competitive level at age 10, when he was chosen to play with the Long Island Rough Riders. Sloan plays other sports and is on the boys basketball team, but says that he loves soccer because of the fast pace, and because of the coaches who have had a great influence on him throughout his training.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:45
The Hicksville Middle School Kickline claimed victory again recently at the Scholastic Kickline Competition held at Nassau Community College. The team competed against top kickline teams and placed second in hip hop, third in pom and third in kick. County legislator Rose Walker, an honorary Hicksville Kickline team member, supported the girls at the competition. The middle school kickline team’s season began in September, and includes dancing at football and basketball games and competing in three tourneys. Their last competition of the season was March 2 at Nassau Community College. The girls are coached by Hicksville kickline alumni Katelyn Heuser, Victoria Shannon and Laura Bueche.