A Passion for Life—in All Its Forms
For many people, dissecting a frog at school was gross and uncomfortable, but for Bill Strond it was what set him on the path to where he is today.
“I just remember I was sitting in the front, and the teacher cut this frog’s chest open. I could see his little heart still beating from where I was, and I just thought it was absolutely amazing. From that point on I don’t think there was anything else I wanted to do.” Professor of biology Bill Strond says he remembers every birthday after that wanting to go to out in nature preserves and just look at wildlife; he was in love and fascinated with the creation and preservation of life.
It was no surprise when Strond went on to major in biology and psychology at Wilmington College, where he received a bachelor’s degree. He later went to the University of Nebraska in Omaha for his master’s in biology. Having done some teaching and assisting while in graduate school, he discvered that he loved being able to communicate with people about his work and sharing this passion.
For Professor Strond, the most significant thing he has come to appreciate is the vast spectrum of learners, and his sense of empathy and patience has been enriched through this experience. “I try to do things that will make learning possible for every kind of student that comes through my door. I want them to enjoy biology, and I want them to be able to learn in whatever way is easiest for them. A favorite classroom activity of mine is making and building physical models for the students so that they have both a visual image of what they are learning, as well as something they can feel. They have the experience of pulling it apart and putting it back together again, and the feedback has been fantastic.”
Bill is also hugely passionate about teaching Introduction to Environmental Science and the work he and the students do. Everything in this course involves Oakton’s Des Plaines campus nature preserve. Strond is always dreaming up new environmental projects to keep students engaged. Recently they were working on the pond adjacent to Golf Road in an attempt to keep it open for amphibian reproduction. They are working to make the land more capable of producing and nurturing new life. Strond is thrilled when he can get students, who perhaps would have had no such experience, excited and involved with wetland environments.
With all of the great work he does, it was a long time coming for Bill when he won the Ray Hartstein Award for Excellence in Teaching for Full-Time Faculty in 2016. “It was a huge honor. What really hits home though are the nominations, because that is really where the students are involved. I have been lucky enough to be nominated eleven times - which is amazing - so winning felt like a real crystallization of all that positive feedback.”
Professor of Biology