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In Person

Robert Childs

Eureka, California
High school science teacher,

When did you start caving?

As a kid in Missouri. If you spend any time in the Ozarks as a child, they draw you in.

Is spelunking the same thing as caving?

Yes, but cavers don't use "spelunking." It kind of takes away from the rebel grunge factor.

What's the scariest thing that's happened while caving?

One time with a student group, a lot of snow unexpectedly melted and filled the cave to within a few inches of the roof. To get out, we had to float on our backs with our faces scraping the surface, then completely duck under the water to get under a row of stalactites.

What's your favorite outdoor adventure movie?

They haven't made it yet. The movie will take place in the caves they've found in photographs of Mars. I'm sure I'm the star.

Malaysia established a national park based on caves you found on an expedition. Tell us about that.

As a result of the great caves that were found on several expeditions to Malaysian Borneo, the Malaysian government formed a large national park abutting Gunung Mulu National Park. It protected the surrounding rainforest, also.

Coolest thing you've ever seen on an expedition?

Imagine taking the most beautiful geode full of crystals that you've ever seen, multiply the numbers and types of crystals by 20, and then expand it to the size of gymnasium. Make those crystal 15 feet long. Just for effect, hang yourself from a rope in the middle of it.

Favorite spot to go caving?

Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico (Google it!)

Why did you decide to become an NEA member?

To give myself a more powerful voice in government decisions that affect students.

Tracey Wygal

Martinsburg, West Virginia
Middle school teacher,
Motivational speaker on fitness

You lost 120 pounds and work hard to keep it off. How do you stay motivated?

My motivation comes from family, friends, and continued improvement and maintenance of my health and body.

What food has been the hardest to give up?

Ice cream is a definite nemesis!

What is your favorite workout routine?

I love to strength train in conjunction with cardiovascular exercise. I just enjoy being in the gym! You can find more of my tips at

What has been the best part about losing almost 120 pounds?

Helping and motivating others to start on their own weight loss journey. The improvement of my health, self image, and confidence is a big bonus, too!

Has your weight loss had an impact on your teaching and if so, how?

It's made me more comfortable to step up in front of a group and feel good throughout the day.

How have your students reacted to your weight loss?

They have reacted with excitement, pride, happiness, and support.

Why did you become an NEA member?

I decided to join NEA for professionalism, information, and protection.

Short Takes

Johnny Davis
Mobile, Alabama

Former high school English teacher Davis has been volunteering for over 16 years, spending most of his free time tutoring. Davis teaches mentally challenged adults survival skills. "The best feeling is seeing the gleam in their eye once they understand something," he says. Davis also remains active in his Association, the Alabama Education Retirees Association. Recently, he helped raise money for a local library. "This community has been good to me, so I want to give back and do whatever I can to help. It's a great way to spend retirement."

Want to see your story on this page? We're looking for members with unique hobbies or interesting ways of passing their time. Drop us a line about your pursuits outside the classroom at .

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