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Nebraska Academy of Sciences

We believe science is essential for all Nebraskans 

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Loren Eiseley Memorial Scholarship Awardee 

Alex Kosse

Omaha, NE 

There is nothing more peaceful than being outside on a mild spring evening with only the sound of the bullfrogs and crickets in the distance. Life without nature would be an unbearable existence. As I read through some of Eiseley's essays, I begin to picture his childhood just outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. He found peace in nature and an escape from the realities of his childhood. That was where his love for nature and compassion for all organisms began.

As I prepare to graduate from high school this year, it's only natural to think back to my own childhood and the places that brought me peace. I enjoyed camping under the stars with my Dad and hiking through the woods in the dark while at a summer camp. I loved to listen to the owls and other creatures at night. Now, when I need to get away from all the stresses in life, I head out to my favorite local fishing spot. The quiet and calmness of the water and the birds' singing. The smell of the wild grasses and flowers. I imagine Eiseley having those same experiences. Through his readings, I have come to realize that Eiseley wore many hats for many people through his life experiences. He's a teacher, a philosopher, a scholar, a naturalist, and a poet. Eiseley observed the story of life and how it unfolds in history. He also educated readers about the processes of nature through his essays.

Loren Eiseley was able to write in 1960 about a topic and in a field of science that is still relevant today. His collection of essays in "The Unexpected Universe" really speaks to me and the importance of his work for the preservation of living things in the universe. He has taught me to challenge the views of science, man, and nature through his writings. We should not only accept the current modern sciences as our guide to living our lives. During Eiseley’s writings, he used his knowledge as an archeologist along with his personal experiences in life to view the universe. Eiseley believed modern man had fallen out of nature by destroying our planet. He talks of the extinction of non-human living things such as animals and plants. Loren Eiseley was green before green was cool. In his writings, he asked for people to reconnect with their own pasts to be able to respect the natural world. He is asking for an examination of how we live our lives and preserve our planet and all living creatures.

One of my favorite essays by Eisely is located in the Unexpected Universe book. The essay is called "The Star Thrower." The story portrays a person walking along the beach early in the morning. He observes a man picking up a starfish out of the sand, and he throws it back into the water. He is initially suspicious and wonders if he is simply collecting the shells for his own selfishness to keep as a collection. He then realizes that he is sincerely only interested in saving the lives of the starfish. He writes that no matter how small the creature or being, every life has meaning and one person can make a difference.

Since Eiseley, there have been numerous adaptations of The Star Thrower. It has been retold by motivational and spiritual speakers. One adaptation has the narrator questioning the man about whether he can save all the starfish that are scattered and stranded on the sand. He simply replied that even if he can make a difference in just one starfish, it will be worth it.

The story of the starfish speaks to me in my own life now and in my future endeavors. I plan to attend the University of Arkansas with a major in health sciences. I will pursue a biology degree with a plan to continue my education and attend their physician assistant program in Little Rock. My dream is to work with patients to help those in need and to make a difference in some small way in the lives of others.

Recently, I have been able to get a part-time job at a hospital in Omaha, NE. My job title is "ambassador," otherwise known as a "food service attendant." Although it is not my dream job, I decided I would give it my best effort. Until I started this job, I never realized how small my world had been. I also never realized how this simple job could make a difference in someone's day. When I drop off the meal trays, I try to assist the patient with any needs they may have. Some patients and their families just want to visit. They are looking for a kind word or someone to simply listen to their concerns and fears. I often get a smile from my patients, along with appreciation from the nursing staff, for spending a few extra minutes in the patient's room to assist them. This minor task is analogous to the starfish thrower. It's how I can make a difference in someone's life by performing a simple task.

In conclusion, I have really enjoyed getting a chance to read through Loren Eiseley's collection of essays. He truly was a man ahead of his time. He showed great wisdom and compassion for all living creatures and humanity and expressed it beautifully in his essays. I look forward to continuing to dive into more of his books in the future. Mr. Eiseley has taught me to be a good steward of nature and the universe.

Alex will be attending the University of Arkansas starting Fall of 2023.

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