Johnstown Independent

Licking County conservation district

Oct. 18 dinner features 'entertaining' scientist

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

For Frank Gibbs, being a soil scientist is anything but boring.

"I had this great adventure," he said, recalling a recent trek into the mountains of Tibet and a wild experience with the local terrain and culture. "Those people are amazing!"

Gibbs, who recently retired as a resource soil scientist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in northwest Ohio, is a world traveler and guest speaker at the Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District's 68th annual dinner event Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Ohio State University-Newark's Reese Center Ballroom.

With his own brand of humor, he'll present an account of his world travels to learn about the Earth's soils and the different cultures he experienced along the way. His presentation is called, "Soils, Poop and Human Rights."

"There are no trees up there, so they burn dung," Gibbs said of the people of Tibet.

Recent travels have taken Gibbs to Holland, visiting Dutch dairies and giving presentations at the University of Wageningen, and to Nepal, trekking to the highest Buddhist monastery in the world, Tengboche. In 2008, he visited the Andes in Ecuador, the Amazon Basin and, finally, western Tibet in June 2011. He said Tibet literally closed its borders to tourists a day after he arrived, making travel challenging.

"We were continually met with soldiers, guns, dogs and questions," Gibbs said. "It was heavy duty."

He said he was most impressed culturally with how the Tibetan people coped with political oppression and an amazing lack of amenities. From an environmental perspective, he had a unique opportunity to study the icy Himalayan Mountains, on which are glaciers that affect weather worldwide.

"All that's melting," he said. "The weather's all messed up."

Conservation district program administrator Jim Kiracofe said Gibbs is an honors graduate of the Ohio State University with a major in agronomy and soils. For the more than 35 years, he worked for Natural Resources Conservation Service across Ohio in various positions. He has received many awards and conducted many soil training sessions.

"I think it'll be very informative, and (Gibbs) is down to earth and entertaining," Kiracofe said. "He definitely has a different perspective on things."

Gibbs will also lecture to a COTC class before the meeting.

Kiracofe said the event is not a fundraiser, but a community dinner open to the public. Dinner tickets are $15 for adults and $6 for children age 12 and under. Tickets may be purchased online at lickingswcd.com or at the district office; they will not be sold at the door. RSVPs are required by Friday, Oct. 12.

In other news from the conservation district, Kiracofe said the district's Sept. 8 River Round Up Day, where more than 80 volunteers and committee members cleaned up sections of the Licking River, was successful despite stormy weather.

He said the group removed 303 discarded tires from the river and 22 cubic yards of trash, including shopping carts and a washing machine.

"You name it, that stuff's in there," Kiracofe said.

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