Born in Kansas in 1929, Jack Moyer first came to Japan as an airman in August 1951, in the midst of the Korean War. From day one - when, through the train window en route from Yokohama Port to the US airbase in western Tokyo, he witnessed Japanese families having dinner on low tables in their houses - he felt a strong urge to experience Japanese life. Very soon, he was umpiring baseball games for Japanese kids and having dinner with a Japanese family every evening. All the weekends and days off duty were spent collecting bird specimens around the Kanto area for the Chicago Natural History Museum.
Fifty years later, Moyer finds himself uprooted from Miyake due to a volcanic eruption in 2000 and based in Tokyo. But in a fortuitous twist of fate, this has led to the evolution of the ocean schools that he started on the island in 1987 to a much larger scale. Following the eruption, which forced residents to evacuate the island, the schools have come to be held across the country. Now, instead of just one five-day session during the whole summer, six or seven sessions are held each year, with participants hailing from across the country and spanning grades 5 through 11.
At age 74 - an "old geezer" as he jokingly calls himself - Moyer is an energetic man with a message to tell. He is a prolific writer, particularly of nature education books for children. He is always on the go, running education programs, giving lectures, and leading ecotours, and he is also involved in organizing yet more nature-related programs. "I want to do more and more and more," he confesses.
© Copyright 2009 Janet Calcote Simmons All rights reserved.