The Louis D. Beaumont Dad’s Association Distinguished Professor Award has been presented to a full-time faculty member each year since 1968. Nominations are received from students, and a small group of invited students then choose from among those nominated who should receive the award for the year for displaying a dedication to quality teaching. This honor is incredibly meaningful to faculty because it is awarded by students.
This week The Woods Today continues its series on WWU professors nominated for this year’s Beaumont award with Associate Professor of Biology, Robin Hirsch-Jacobson, Ph.D. Robin has been a professor at WWU for 10 years and actually previously won the Beaumont Award in 2019.
Robin has always been fascinated with nature. He is currently in the process of replacing his lawn at home with flowers and grasses native to Missouri. Originally, Robin just enjoyed being in nature, until he took a Natural History of Birds class during his time as an undergraduate.
“That class gave me a small snapshot of the associate science applied to nature and I was instantly hooked.”
Robin’s favorite classes to teach are field classes like Vertebrate Zoology, Ecology, and Tropic Ecology. The Tropical Ecology lab is actually in Costa Rica where one of his students actually stepped on a venomous snake!
“As someone who loves everything wild, it is so fulfilling to get students out into nature for labs to enjoy and learn about flora and fauna.”
Robin’s advice for new college students is to use resources provided to you, develop good study habits early, and to talk to your professors. William Woods is a small school which allows faculty to be available for one on one help. One of his favorite things about working at The Woods is being able to design courses he’s passionate about and watching them fill up with students.
“We have such a wonderful group of students who are so interested in learning, so kind, and really truly a joy to be around. Every morning I look forward to coming to teach on campus because I know I will get energy and inspiration from the people around me.”
Learn more about Dr. Hirsch-Jacobson as he answers the following questions:
How many years have you been teaching at The Woods?
This is my tenth year
Name an interesting fact not many people know about you.
Well, I used to be in rap group for a poster! I’m also in the process of killing the lawn at my house and replacing it with native flowers and grasses.
What is your favorite memory from working at The Woods?
All of them? I can’t pull one thing out for this! I mean getting hired was pretty great; being able to design new courses I’m passionate about and watching them fill up with students is pretty wonderful; and having so many willing volunteers to help with our native pollinator garden is also fantastic.
What has been your favorite class to teach and why?
I love teaching the field classes like Vertebrate Zoology, Ecology, and Tropic Ecology. As someone who loves everything wild, it is so fulfilling to get students out into nature for labs to enjoy and learn about flora and fauna. The Tropical Ecology lab is in Costa Rica so you definitely can’t beat that!
What is the best advice to new college students?
Use the resources provided, develop good study habits early, and talk to your professors. We are a small school and very available. A lot of stress can be alleviated by working with your instructors.
What is the best or most memorable moment you had with a student?
There is no way I can pick out just one moment. I mean having a student step on a venomous snake in Costa Rica was pretty memorable. Every time I get an email from a graduate with the successes they are having scholastically or professionally feels great. And getting students who dread doing a field lab end up enjoying it are some of my favorite moments. I just thought of 10 more while typing out this answer!
What drew you to what you now teach?
I have always been fascinated by nature. It started out just wanting to be in it and spend time outdoors until I took a Natural History of Birds class as an undergraduate. That class provided me with a small snapshot of the associated science applied to nature and I was instantly hooked.
What stood/stands out to you about The Woods?
The people. I love my colleagues and especially the students. We have such a wonderful group of students who are so interested in learning, so kind, and really truly a joy to be around. Every morning I look forward to coming to teach on campus because I know I will get energy and inspiration from the people around me.