On September 1, 2015, I started officially in my role as Professor and Department Head in PPEM at PSU. However, since April 2015 I have been involved in or initiated a lot of activities (grant writing, position descriptions, graduate student wining and dining). My last unofficial duty was more pleasure than duty and made me feel so very welcome into my new department.
The graduate students through the Plant Pathology Association organized a canoe trip. I have not been canoeing on a river since before 1981. My last trip was on the Connoquenessing Creek with my father. My father died in 1983 and although I have spent a lot of time paddling white water on rafts since then, I haven’t been back in a canoe on a river since I was a young adult paddling with Don Bull. It was muscle (both head and arm) memory for me to be back in a canoe in Pennsylvania having someone mentor me. I learned so much about the workings of PPEM and PSU from a graduate student’s point of view. Lots of the details I needed the first week were second nature to my paddling partner and he shared them willingly. We brainstormed ideas about undergraduate engagement.
Tacit interactions are so important to our work success. Sometimes we just need the time to talk in the meandering nature of a stream to make real progress and connections. At this point I am hoping that my to do list does not get in the way of these moments. When someone reminds me next year to “go take a hike” I hope they will mean that I should connect with others in a natural setting to build on these unintentional working interactions.