Have you ever wondered what your classmates have been up to since graduation? In this column, we track down Humboldt Alumni to find out how they used their education to lead a wild life.
featured in the Spring 2020 newsletter
Wildlife artist Cynthie Fisher is nuts about animals. Everything in her world revolves around her love and admiration for all wildlife, which is aided by her college studies in zoology and wildlife management. She chooses to share this love via her vibrant colorful paintings and scratchboards of species from all corners of the world, most of which she has traveled to, including 19 trips to Africa. Cynthie has been a professional artist for over 30 years, and has added sculpture, glass mosaics and mixed media sculpting to her repertoire.
“My education at Humboldt and my involvement with CU and the wildlife department formed the foundation of my career; the support and critiques I received from the staff and students was instrumental in helping me form the skills to become a professional wildlife artist. Dr. Harris in particular was an amazing mentor and influence; joining the conclave team and spending all that time in the wildlife coffee room and museum taught me so much that helped my career as an artist and a biologist. Not to mention, I learned taxidermy in museum technique class, which I still do to this day!”
Cynthie’s list of artistic accomplishments includes 18 duck stamp awards, many times featured artist for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Ducks Unlimited, cover artist for SCI, and many others. She shows her work every year at the Safari Club conventions in Nevada and Texas. She is a board member of the Society of Animal Artists, and currently makes her home in Hamilton, Montana.
Dick Laursen (Class of '57)
featured in the Summer 2020 newsletter
featured in the Summer 2020 newsletter
I was born in 1929 and grew up in the Santa Rosa area except for five years (age 8 through 12) with my Step-dad and Mother on a mining claim on the Middle Fork Feather River 35 miles east of Oroville, California. This mining claim was primitive living, being 1 and ½ miles from the unfinished Forest Service road into the river canyon, and six miles from the Brush Creek store. Our car had been trashed by vandals and we walked these miles for several years. This was during the great depression and many people eked out a living wherever they could. There was no school, so my Mom sent me out to Santa Rosa to live with my Grandparents so I could go to school in the fall of 1941 and the start of WW11.
I missed WW!!, but was drafted into the Army in December 1950, four months after the start of the Korean War and arrived n Korea in August of 1951. I had never considered going to college, but on arriving home in 1952, I had no job so enrolled in Santa Rosa Junior College. After two years at SRJC I came to Humboldt State University, graduating in 1957 with a B.S. degree in Fisheries Management. Thus, my association with natural resources was fully fledged, and my interest in our natural world has continued ever since. Today, I would classify myself as an Ecologist.
While at HSU, I became involved with the usual school activities such as basketball, a play, wrote a column (Fin and Fur) one year for the Lumberjack and was very active in Conservation Unlimited and was president one year. In those early years, only two studies in natural resources was available, Fisheries Management or Game Management, and although we had two titles, we were one intergraded group, the “Wildlifers”. Most students wore creased pants and dresses in those days and we were sometimes also called the “denim” crowd.
I went to work for the State and worked in four different departments, Fsih and Wildlife (Game Warden), Parks and Recreation (Recreation Planner) estimating possible recreation use at various sites along the State Water Project from Oroville to Los Angeles, a three year stint with the Governor’s office managing grant monies to cities and counties provided to help them do their General Plans, and last to the newly created Coastal Commission in Eureka. I retired from State service when I became age 50 in 1979.
It was during the game warden days that I got involved with the Western Section of the Wildlife Society and became president in 1973. There was always a good group of HSU alumni attending and we would get together at breakfast and hash out topics of interest. We discussed providing scholarships and interest-free loans. We decided and interest-free loans and that forming a CU Alumni Association would be a good way to go. Since I had brought up idea of interest-free loans and pushed hard for a CUAA, I was chosen to set it up. I set to it and prepare Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, a bank account, stationary, a motto, etc, etc. I was president 1977-78 and held the Treasurer position for the next 33 years, also writing and mailing out a Newsletter three or four times a year. In 1993, I delivered the membership list, bank book and all the past records to Brian Waters. New officers, ideas and energy has done well for CUAA.
Carol and I moved to Eskaton Village Carmichael, in January 2007, a senior center here in Sacramento where we now reside. Since being here I became a Board Member to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center located in the American River Parkway. A heart issue caused me to resign last year. The Center provides professionally led outdoor natural resource lasses to young (8 -14) students. In 2019, over 19,000 young people got one full day of information and instruction about natural resources and how our lives depend on them. A very important and worthwhile day in their lives.
I recently joined up with a group located in Quincy called, Friends of Plumas Wilderness, who have been active in that area working to get more protection around the Middle Fork Feather River. I suggested the creation of a Middle Fork Feather River Canyon National Monument. We made an 18 minute movie titled, Visions of the Lost Sierra, (It can be seen on line) and are currently gathering data to support the National Monument proposal.
Rhiannon Klingonsmith (Class of '04)
featured in the Fall 2021 newsletter
featured in the Fall 2021 newsletter
As a young girl growing up in suburban southern California, watching PBS specials about wildlife around the world, Rhiannon Klingonsmith knew early on she wanted a career in wildlife. She attended Humboldt State University from 2001-2004, graduating with a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Conservation. During her time at HSU she was involved in the Student Chapter of Conservation Unlimited, attended Western Section TWS meetings, and assisted in student quiz bowls. “I remember traveling to other states and Canada with Dr. Kitchen and Dr. Johnson to attend TWS Conferences, how exciting it was to have the opportunity to learn about what others do in the wildlife world, meet potential employers, and gain amazing friendships along the way. Many of the friendships I made at HSU are still going strong 15 years later!” Through her participation in CU and while in the wildlife program, she gained long lasting friendships. These same college friends hold an annual Hogan Cup Fishing Derby. In 2020, they celebrated 15 years of fishing derby campouts!
Rhiannon has remained a California native, working throughout the State in both public and private sectors, starting as a scientific aid doing botany surveys, trapping small to large mammals, and grew into a wildlife biologist. She lived and worked at a wildlife area and learned to hunt waterfowl. From there she moved onto the private sector which allowed her the ability to travel all over the state, seeing and working in numerous beautiful habitats. After years of high paced private sector, she has settled back into a State position as a Senior Environmental Scientist (Supervisor) where her work is currently focused in the Suisun Marsh. In addition to a great career, Rhiannon has held numerous positions on her local Sacramento-Shasta TWS Chapter board: President, President elect, Professional Development Chair, and Student Scholarship Chair. She continues to participate in the annual Western Section Meetings and makes a point to attend the CUUA meetings every time. She attributes her continued success in the wildlife profession to the knowledgeable and passionate HSU professors, amazing hands-on program, and a room full of animal heads to.