Kenai's Renaissance man

Posted: Friday, August 18, 2000

The knowledge and accomplishments Kenai resident Boyd Shaffer accumulated by the time he was 30 might make a Noble Peace Prize winner look like a couch potato.

Shaffer leads mushroom-hunting expeditions, as well as bird and plant walks, in conjunction with his work as an art and biology instructor at Kenai Peninsula College and founder of the Kenai Botanical Society, which is sponsored by the KPC biology department.

He describes himself as an artist/naturalist and has done everything from studying art at the Sorbonne in France after fighting in World War II, to leading ecotourism safaris to Africa and being a naturalist and photographer for Walt Disney. Originally from Utah, Shaffer has been in Alaska for 42 years. He had already lectured at the University of Utah by the age of 16 and has been a part of KPC since 1966, before it even had its own building.

"Teaching was a natural thing with me, I have a tendency to teach all the time." Shaffer said. "Every time a question comes up and I know the answer, I teach it. I can't help it."

He and his wife, Susan, plan to lead another African safari in February 2002, after which they will divide their time between Alaska, Africa and the rain forests of Belize, Central America, where Boyd will study the plant life and "everything that wiggles," he said.

"It's ideal for me because I can't name everything I see down there," Shaffer said. "I was born with a big question mark over my head. If I went down there and knew everything, I wouldn't want it."

-- JENNY NEYMAN



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